The Growing of the Green

Pot 'o GoldIf you find yourself wondering where to get a little more of the green stuff to cover life’s expenses, you’re not alone. Stories of rising prices and falling income fill the news—as if we hadn’t noticed.

Economic times are changing, but we can adapt and even improve our lives along the way. In every change, there is opportunity. Every challenge to our financial status quo is a call to re-examine how we save and spend and how our money values contribute to our happiness.

If the springtime leaves you crying in your St. Patrick’s Day beer, ask yourself a few important questions:

1. How well have you been doing at living within your means?

Rising prices will hit you hardest if you are already overextended with too much debt, too much housing expense, too little savings, and hit-and-miss money management. As Samuel Johnson said, “Whatever you have, spend less.” Although it’s a tough time to find out that you really need a budget, life is all about learning. It’s never too late to face the money music and figure out exactly where your money goes each month.

2. Which expenses creep up when you are too busy, too tired, or too down?

A fast-paced, hectic life (is there any other kind?) can cost us money. While we are hurrying-up to earn more, we might be spending more to keep our spirits up and just survive the busy weekly schedule. Take a break from the action and use a little “free” time to track how much money goes toward entertainment, eating meals out, and recreational shopping. You might be able to trim expenses and find more peace and relaxation with a walk on the beach instead.

3. What plans have you made for coping with hard times?

Although we can’t know what lies ahead in life, we can invest for the future. Building an emergency fund (no matter how little you start with) helps you feel more optimistic and in control. Keeping your earning options open is healthy. Even if you love your job at the moment, always have other possibilities for yourself on the back burner. Be flexible and have faith in your ability to learn, grow and adapt with the times.

Self-knowledge and self-confidence can keep you in charge of your fortunes in the best and the worst of times. The real “green” in your life is you—and your loved ones. And that’s better than any pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

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