8 Ways to Recover from a Financial Setback

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From big emergencies to minor setbacks, learning how to deal with money crises is a key aspect of healthy financial management. Losses are a part of life, and while planning and preparing for them can help, you can’t always stop fiscal setbacks from occurring.

When faced with financial hardship, individuals need to adapt their money plans to deal with present challenges. After all, your normal fiscal approach isn’t going to work when times are tough. Here are eight tips designed to help limit the damage of financial problems and get you and your money back on track.

1. Calm Emotions and Stay Smart.

The stress that results from financial setbacks can lead individuals to make foolish mistakes with regard to money.

“Setbacks often leave us reeling, since they’re often unexpected and can involve high emotion, and when emotion goes up… intelligence goes down,” said Robert T. Kiyosaki, author of No. 1 personal finance book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Kiyosaki went on to advise people to stay rational about the choices ahead.

According to Kiyosaki, a financial crisis represents an opportunity to learn more about money and improve your financial habits.

“Financial education and getting smarter with your money is always a great way to prepare for the future — whatever it holds, good and bad — and hedge against all the unexpected speed bumps (and potholes, and road black and detours) on the road to financial freedom,” Kiyosaki said.

2. Adopt a Problem-Solving Mentality.

When faced with financial hardship, savvy individuals face their problems head on.

Kyle Taylor, founder of the popular personal finance blog, ThePennyHoarder.com, said, “When going through a financial setback, it’s important to develop a problem-solver mentality. After all, setbacks are merely a setup for a comeback.”

While money problems might seem insurmountable, it’s important to look for ways to address financial issues proactively.

“Regroup and re-strategize when things go awry,” said Taylor. “You may need to adjust your budget and figure out additional income streams.”

3. Make a Plan.

While adopting a positive, forward-thinking attitude is essential, individuals must also create specific plans to deal with their new circumstances.

“We all have financial setbacks, but it’s how we handle these setbacks that often separates those who win with money from those who don’t,” said Chris Hogan, a retirement expert with the Dave Ramsey team. “Create a plan to help you overcome the obstacle, whether it’s a job loss, costly emergency or simply regretting a large purchase.”

When crafting your plan, one of the aims is to modify your spending behavior and use the extra money to tackle your financial setback.

“That may mean cutting back on your expenses until you’re able to build your emergency fund back up, or you may need to start budgeting so you can avoid overspending,” Hogan said. “Remember, your past doesn’t determine your financial future.”

Everyone has the power to change fiscal habits and do better moving forward.

4. Get a Money Mentor.

When you’re in the middle of a monetary crisis, it can feel like there’s no way out. To combat feelings of hopelessness, money experts recommend seeking out people who have been in situations like yours (or worse ones!) and determining how they dug themselves out of the hole.

“Get a mentor/coach to help… someone that has been there,” said Josh Felber, an entrepreneur and business coach.

This person can provide individualized advice about how to improve your situation, give you encouragement when you’re feeling down and keep you accountable to ensure you stay on track.

Here at First Financial, our first priority is helping you achieve your financial dreams by defining your dream goals and lifestyle, empowering you through financial education, building your wealth, planning your retirement, and managing your risk. Establishing financial goals is an important part of saving enough money, and being ready for the future and we are here for you! Stop into any one of our branches and sit with a representative to have an annual financial check-up for a review of your finances and portfolio. 

5. Start Saving Right Away.

While finances might be tight right now, that doesn’t mean you should abandon important money habits like saving. Even in the midst of a financial crisis, business experts like Whitney Johnson recommend that saving habits be maintained.

According to the author of the bestselling book, “Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work,” individuals should strive to save each month, “no matter how small the amount … even before you think you can.”

The truth is, you can’t afford not to save, especially while your finances are still recovering.

6. Give Yourself a Raise.

If you need to secure some extra money to tackle a big financial issue, you might be able to find it by lowering your expenses.

“Remember that you have the power to give yourself a raise,” said Jeanette Pavini, money expert and spokesperson for Coupons.com. Here’s what she means: “Spending less can be like making more.”

According to Pavini, individuals might also need to sacrifice extra luxuries while recovering from a financial setback.

“Get rid of the $150 a month cable bill, and it’s like giving yourself an $1,800 after-tax raise,” Pavini said, adding that financial stress can be detrimental to mental health and overall wellness. However, she suggested that simplifying one’s life can have positive consequences as well.

Said Pavini, “You may even find that when you simplify and learn to live without, your life becomes rich in so many other ways.”

7. Keep Your Credit On Track.

While a financial crisis can feel overwhelming, money experts recommend keeping credit ratings on track. Clark Howard, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Clark Howard Show,” advised consumers to keep an eye on their credit scores during financial setbacks and take steps to improve them.

Howard says, “If you’re suffering from poor credit, there are several surefire ways to get your credit healthy again.” He recommends that individuals take the following steps to start:

  1. “Always pay your bills on time and pay down the total amount you owe. If you forget all else after reading this, remember this one! This is the single most important rule for having a good credit score.”
  2. “Keep a low credit utilization rate.” This means keeping credit card balances low and resisting the urge to charge more to accounts.
  3. “When you pay off a credit card, don’t close the account. Doing so only reduces your available credit and drives your score down.” He also recommends keeping four to six lines of credit open, using each twice a year and paying them off right away. “That will keep them active in your credit mix.”

8. Target Credit Card Debt.

Paying off credit card debt is a key part of recovering from financial hardship. Bestselling Finance Author, Nicole Lapin, notes that charging purchases is all too easy and cautions individuals against getting behind on debt.

After factoring in interest, Lapin said, “you may end up paying $50 for a pair of socks before you’re through paying off your cards.” With that in mind, she advises individuals to “double-time” their credit card debt and strive to pay off balances monthly. Lapin went on to acknowledge that people in the midst of a financial setback might not be in the position to pay off credit card debt immediately.

“Instead, try to curb enough of your other expenses (take from your ‘fun money’ category first) to double-down on your payments each month,” said Lapin.

The money expert also recommended that those with debt get an early start on their taxes and use any refund checks to pay down credit card bills. Not anticipating a refund this year? If you racked up credit card debt with too many purchases, you can always put your loot to use in paying off the balance.

“Pull out the clothes, appliances and household items that you haven’t used in a while, or don’t want anymore,” Lapin said. “You can auction them off on eBay, or post them on your local Craigslist, and then use this ‘free-money’ to pay down debt.”

Financial setbacks are inevitable, but you don’t have to stay in debt long term. By following the expert tips above, you can get back on the road to fiscal health.

*Original article source courtesy of Elyssa Kirkham of GoBankRates.com.

9 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Own Financial Stability

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As human beings, our brains contain psychological barriers that can stand between making smart financial decisions and poor ones. The good news is that once you realize your own mental weaknesses, it’s not impossible to overcome them. Here are nine of the biggest barriers…and some good strategies for fighting them:

Scenario 1: You’re about to buy an engagement ring so you do some research on prices. Most people say three months’ salary is the general budget, so you freak out and request a credit line increase.

What’s really going on: Anchoring.

Anchoring happens when we rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered when making decisions. After encountering the “three month” rule, you find it hard to make a logical decision based your own financial reality or your relationship. You may not have three months’ worth of salary to splurge on a diamond, but you decide to spend within that range because you are anchored to that idea.

Scenario 2: You’re 27 years old, in excellent health and just got promoted. You’re so high on life that you can’t fathom a time when you’ll no longer be young, fit, and financially stable.

What’s really happening: Myopia.

Because you are unable to picture yourself in old age, bad health, or cash-strapped, you’re less likely to save for unexpected events or your retirement. Myopia can be blamed for many depleted retirement savings accounts in the U.S. “Seduced by temporal myopia in their younger years, many people get around to saving seriously for their retirement far too late in their career, in their forties and fifties in many cases, which greatly reduces the amount of money they will have available for their retirement,” says Shlomo Benartzi, a behavioral finance economist and author of “Save More Tomorrow.”

If you’re lacking motivation, try this handy experiment: Use Merrill Edge’s Face Retirement generator, which will take a photo of you as you are today and generate an image of what you’ll look like in retirement. Benartzi’s own research has shown that this kind of reminder can actually give people the jumpstart they need to start saving for retirement.

Scenario 3: You’re watching the market closely and see that a certain stock has been tanking over the last few months. You give it another month, watch it drop again and decide to sell it off before history repeats itself.

What’s really going on: Gambler’s fallacy.

When investors rely on past events to predict the future, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. If a stock is flying or floundering for a year, that doesn’t mean it will continue to do so in the next year, or even in a few months to come. The same thing happens when you buy a lotto ticket because your buddy next door just won $10,000 in a drawing. Just because he won doesn’t change the odds of you winning at all.

Keep your decision-making grounded in the real facts. Analyze your investments before making any sudden moves or following trends.

Scenario 4: It’s open enrollment season for your company’s health care plan and the list of plans is so confusing that you put it off for days until, finally, the deadline rolls around. You give up, re-enrolling in whatever plan you already have.

What’s really going on: Avoidance.

This is a form of procrastination that could really cost you. There are a lot of meaty topics in finance, most of which are about as fun to research as it is to get a root canal. But if you miss a dentist appointment, you can easily reschedule. Mess up your health care election and you could be stuck with the wrong plan for an entire year and pay dearly for it.

Another area prime for avoidance: 401(k) plans. You know you’ve got to enroll so you just skip around until a decent plan name “speaks to you.” Not only could you have signed up for a plan with high fees or the wrong allocations for your risk tolerance, but you will only wind up paying more fees when you finally realize your mistake and have to switch plans.

In addition to a wealth of helpful tools and articles online, many retirement plan providers offer free advisors who are on call to help navigate you through the elections process. If they don’t, it could be worth it to book a one-time consult with a fee-only financial advisor.

Scenario 5: A tech company you love just went public and you’re dying to buy in. You decide to do your homework, but you skirt over the negative headlines, instead clicking on posts singing the company’s praises.

What’s really going on: Confirmation bias.

Investors aren’t machines. They’ve got feelings and like any normal human being, they can’t help but selectively filter out opinions that don’t mirror their own. In doing so, they create a false sense of security that can lead to some pretty boneheaded decisions.

If you want the full picture, you’ve got to seek out information that contradicts everything you thought you knew about a company before you can hope to form a balanced opinion.

Scenario 6: It’s April 2008 and the stock market has just hit rock bottom, taking half of your retirement savings down with it. Shell-shocked and devastated by the loss, you demand that your financial advisor pulls every last investment out of the market immediately.

What’s really going on: Loss aversion.

Loss aversion plagues even the most experienced investors, making them avoid potential gains because they’re too afraid to take a risk.

Anyone who ditched the stock market for fear of further losses after the 2008 crash can blame loss aversion. The average pre-retiree 401(k) balance actually doubled since the recession. People who fled the stock market and never rebalanced their portfolios only rebounded by 25%.

Loss aversion can also have the opposite effect, causing investors to cling too tightly to losing investments. Because it hurts to admit that they picked a losing investment, they focus on selling off winners and hope they’ll rebound over time. If they aren’t careful, they wind up with a portfolio full of flops.

Scenario 7: You’re a savvy investor and you know you’ve got the goods to beat the market. So you jump in and start trading like a madman, trusting your gut and your own due diligence not to lead you astray.

What’s really happening: Overconfident investing.

It takes seriously overconfident investors to kid themselves into thinking they can beat the market when even the people whose full-time job is to beat the market fail so frequently.

Terrence Odean’s oft-mentioned study, “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth,” isn’t just a cute bedtime story for investors looking to stroke their egos. It actually shows that frequent trading caused by overconfidence can kill your returns.

Of more than 66,000 households using a large discount broker in the mid-1990s, those who traded most often (48 or more times a year) saw annual gains of 11.4 percent, while the market saw 17.9 percent gains, Odean found.

Scenario 8: You’re still working on building up your emergency fund and you just got a birthday check for $100. Instead of adding it to your savings account, you treat yourself to a new coat or a haircut.

What’s really going on: Mental accounting.

Mental accounting takes place when we assign different values to money depending on where we get it from. If you had earned that $100 by working overtime one week, chances are you’d treat it more like regular income and save it.

Mental accounting is a big reason why we spend more money with credit cards than using hard cash. It just feels “less” like money to us and therefore it’s much easier to spend.

Instead, repeat this mantra: “Money is money, no matter how I get it.” And the next time you use your credit card, ask yourself if you’d be spending that money if you were using cash instead. If the answer is no, hold off.

Scenario 9: A housing development in your county just went belly up and you’ve heard investors are snapping up cheap plots for a steal. You’ve got no experience flipping houses but you’re not about to miss out on a hot ticket like that.

What’s really going on: Herd mentality.

You’ve spotted a hot trend and you don’t want to be the only one out there who didn’t book a seat on the bandwagon. As human beings, it can be very uncomfortable standing still while the rest of our peers head the other way looking like they’re having a ball. It’s in our nature to want to join the party.

This causes a lot of problems when it comes to investing. If you’re willing to change course every time the herd moves, you’ll end up trading a lot more frequently and seeing your returns nibbled to bits by transaction costs alone, not to mention what will happen if the herd leads you astray.

Cotton on to a trend too late and you’ll just lose out when the herd moves on to hotter territory later on and your stock plummets. It’s just a vicious cycle that will only lead to selling low and buying high. The only way to profit from a trend is to get there before anyone else and the odds aren’t in your favor.

To set up a no-cost consultation with our Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial to discuss your insurance and financial questions, call us at 866.750.0100 today!*

Article by Mandy Woodruff of Daily Finance.

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