Financial Coping Strategies for Tough Times — Part One

Blended families, along with every other segment of the country, will probably experience the negative impact of the meltdown on Wall Street. No one is immune to the fallout that has caused the federal government to step in with a multi-billion-dollar bailout to stabilize financial markets and prevent a complete breakdown.

While banks and other financial establishments will avoid complete devastation with the rescue plan, the same is not true for many average families feeling the personal anguish of financial injury and powerlessness, that anxious feeling of loss of control over a situation you did not make and you are powerless to correct. The result of the crisis for most families is generalized stress as people are in jeopardy of foreclosure, ballooning mortgages, loss of employment, rising gas costs, home heating oil, food costs, as well as monthly bills and credit card debt. Blended families face increased stress as they finance dual households and child support.

Stress puts pressure on physical wellbeing with headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Relationships become strained resulting in tension and disputes that increases the cycle of anxiety. And, when anxiety is overwhelming, people often resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, overeating, gambling or drug use.

Unfortunately, were not in a position to offer an escape plan for our blended families, but we offer some plans to help you to take action and feel more in charge of your fate as this economic nightmare plays itself out.

1. Take care of your health because if you arent healthy and able to take care of your family, things will spiral downwards. be sure you eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of sleep, exercise at least 3 times each week and seek professional help if you feel you cant manage on your own, or find yourself resorting to negative coping mechanisms. Try to keep financial news in perspective and steer clear of the roller coaster ride of the daily market reports.

2. Organize a family budget if you dont already have one, and review it monthly if you do. This forces you to know exactly what you are bringing in and what you are paying out. Often, couples have only a hazy idea of their monthly expenses and are amazed at how much they actually spend on items like cellular phone service or dining out.

Check out for practical information on how to start the family budget process and how to save money on a variety of everyday expenses including health and life insurance, cell phone plans, cable bills and reducing credit card debt. For the more tech savvy, go to Next time, well give you a list of ideas on enlisting your children in the money-saving adventure, as well as an extensive list of potential places your family can cut back.