It's never a good sign when you get a notice from your gas company saying, "There’s no easy way to put this: January bills are likely to be higher than usual." They say the bill will be double previous years and it's due partially to an "unexpected cold snap," but I've been hearing for the past year that our gas, food, electricity, and everything else we need to survive is going up in price.
I've also heard that inflation is making the US Dollar less and less valuable which means the government will need to raise more taxes. All this negatively affects the average household who will experience their personal finances not stretching as far. These changes also negatively impact the small business owner who has been forced to increase wages at a time when profits continue to drop. Many businesses will have to cut payroll costs and lay off workers in order to remain in business which means the number of unemployed will begin to soar as well. Low-income workers will have no income at a time when everything has gotten more expensive. Many won't be able to meet their financial obligations, and like the crash of 2008, home loans will fall into default and banks will begin the foreclosure process. Sadly, people will lose everything they have worked so hard to earn.
I'm no financial planner and I'm not trained in economics, but I've been here before. If you've lived through a recession, you may have recognized the signs and begun the process of preparing for the worst-case scenario. If you have been asleep at the wheel and not paying attention to what is happening globally, it's time to wake up and start preparing for a long and cold winter for many seasons to come. After the last financial "recession" it took Americans 25 years to recover. I don't know if we will ever recover from what is coming.
It's time to start planning how to survive, literally. Here are a few difficult discussion topics to open lines of communication with your family, friends, and those in your community:
Assess where you are financially. Create a budget and look for ways to cut. the fat (unnecessary expenses).
Assess resources. How long could you survive if your food, water, and utilities were no longer affordable? What options do you have?
Assess employment. Are there ways to increase your income? Could you sell items of lower necessity in order to have the things you need? Do you feel secure in your job and are you having discussions with your employer how you could help them cut costs? How can you increase your value to your employer so YOU are not the one they chose to lay off?
Assess Family as a resource. Could young adults who are working and living on their own move back home and pool finances with their parents in order to keep the home? The individuals who were most successful in prior recessions and the Great Depression were those who had families they could rely on. If you have been fighting, now might be a good time to reconcile and begin planning for the future.
Assess community resources. There are many ways to rely upon neighbors in your community. Could you pool your resources to share utilities, internet, food, and water? Are you willing to give a spare jacket and excess clothing to give to the growing family in need? Could you offer a potluck night where neighbors could gather and discuss other options? Who in your neighborhood is a doctor or nurse? What medical supplies, medications, or tools would you need to gather now so you have them on hand if they are no longer available?
Assess your faith. It is a proven fact that those who gather to pray survive the most difficult times better than those who have no faith. Prayer offers hope in a time of hopelessness. Emotional support is needed when people are scared and feel alone. Find a local church to attend, ask a neighbor to take you to their church, or go with a family member who has faith you can lean on. Sometimes, when all else fails, faith is all that is left. The difficulty is experienced the same, but the perspective is different when you know your God is in control.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10