Dealing with life’s problems requires plenty of planning

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By Joan Martin

Unemployment is up in Anderson County. It’s still below 7 percent but an upward trend is not what we want to see. The economy has been showing strength but recovery has still been slow.
The University of Kentucky specialists in family finance have written a short publication on Financial Strain and the Lemon Experience of Life. It’s publication # FCS5-452. You can find it on the internet by searching for that number.
This column is a summary of how to make something positive out of a negative experience.
There are experiences in life that we have no control over such as death of a loved one and sometimes the loss of a job. I’ve known long-term employees with good work records who have arrived at their place of work as normal, only to find their place of employment locked and closed forever. Bad stuff sometimes happens to good people.
We do have a choice about how we react to challenges. We can feel defeated or we can mobilize efforts to overcome the challenge. Financial pressure is something that most of us experience at least once in our lives. Think about your values that guide your decisions, including your spending choices. What are the five most important things you want to do with your life from this point on? If you only had three months left to live, what would you do with your remaining time? Look at those answers. See if there are common ideas. How can you begin to reach those dreams? What role does money play in accomplishing those goals?
Talk to your family about how you can accomplish those goals. Some people want more time together and less stuff to take care of. Some families would rather have the boat and go camping every nice weekend than have a backyard pool or a bigger home. Someone else may want to give up commuting 45 minutes to work and find something closer to home, even if it’s less money.
Develop a plan for your family to spend and save money. Prioritize your debts. Always remember to pay debts secured by your home or car first. Make a plan to not spend more than your income. Save something for emergencies and unexpected events including such things as illness, brakes and tires.
The old fashioned advice to spend less or earn more is often the answer. That part-time job in addition to your regular employment may be the answer for right now.
If bankruptcy or other legal proceedings seem like an option, then get good legal advice before you get close to the time when you must make a decision.  The earlier you get help and advice the better.
You can get financial information from the Anderson County Extension Office and the University of Kentucky. Look at the MoneyWi$e website at ca.uky.edu/moneywise. You will have access to publications and money tips as well as links to money management experts around the country through eXtension.
The Anderson County library will also have books and magazines that can help you. You can use the computers there for free to access information and prepare your resume or complete job applications.
Money Habitudes is an upcoming Extension program that will help participants look at their financial goals and habits. More information will be available this spring.

Joan Martin is a family and consumer sciences agent at the Anderson Extension office.