Taking the Deep Breath: Accepting the Financial Meltdown and Moving On

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There has been a lot of coverage about the panic of the financial meltdown, and how panic continues to drive more panic.  It seems that the Media found their big story, and they are milking it for all it is worth.  Perhaps we should be grateful, after all the content of the media is no longer being driven by political campaigns.  Honestly, I'm not sure the political campaigns really know what to do, judging by the reactions of the candidates during the meltdown.  Regardless, there is a very real problem going on within the world economy.  Credit is drying up, or banks are fostering a crazy belief that raising interest rates will actually benefit them more in the long run then keeping lower interest rates.  I've never really understood that, outside of the idea that banks expect you to default on the loan and want to soak you for everything they can before that happens.  At any rate, the end result is that no one is borrowing money, either because they can't or because it's too cost-prohibitive.  For corporations, this means less liquid capital to work with as Corporate paper is no longer good for 24-hour short term loans.  Therefore they have trouble with their day to day operations, which leads the market to believe that all businesses going bust, and so leads to massive stock sell-offs.  The spiral continues to pull us down into the abyss where nothing is solid, all is black, and people are jumping out of windows.  But let's take a step back, and a deep breath.  Is life really so glum?  I'm looking at sections of the economy with which I am concerned to determine whether or not it's time to start investing in apples to sell at 5 cents a piece:1.  Retirement:  A lot of people have their nest eggs invested in the stock market, particularly through a 401k.  These have been tanking.  The same thing happened to me during the beginning of this decade when the .com bubble burst.  I lost thousands in stock value, and it took 10 years for it to come back.  Luckily, I'm not concerned with this too much because I have another 3 decades before I think about retiring.  That gives the economy plenty of time to come back, and it will.  But I do feel for those who have retired or were just about to retire and now do not have the funds necessary do to so.  2.  Debt.  Everyone has debt, more than we want and many of Americans have more debt then they can afford (which started this mess in the first place).  Debt in and of itself is not necessarily bad, as long as you know where that debt is placed.  3.  Savings.  My savings are well below the $100,000.00 FDIC insured level, so I'm not concerned here.  What does concern me is savings for those businesses that fund their employees to come to my classes.  With little liquid funds to pay for training, training suffers a cut.  I love the proposal made by both campaigns and whole-heartedly endorsed by the FDIC to raise the insurance level to a higher amount.  Of course, beyond proposing it a week ago, I haven't heard of any progress.4.  Jobs.  Most businesses are still running rather well, though they may be in a credit crunch.  Unless you are worried about a lay-off, you should be fine.  If you are concerned about your job (and many are), check with a supervisor, or better yet someone higher up.  Test that "open door" policy and see if they are willing to talk openly and honestly with you.  Perhaps it's a good time to update your resume, if for nothing else than to keep it up to date.  But don't do it at work (or tell anyone).  You don't want to start a panic within the company.  So those are the four main concerns that I have regarding my own personal economy.  Sure some products will become too expensive to purchase, but as long as the essentials are covered I'm not concerned.  While it may feel like it based on world-wide coverage of the market meltdown, the world isn't coming to an end.  Supermarkets are still open, clothes can still be purchased, and we can all still go back to work.  So perhaps we as a nation just need to take a deep breath, take stock of what is going down hill and what you can control.  That's going to be the only way I can see of surviving this mess.