This economy has hit everyone hard. People losing jobs. Retirement funds going negative. Dow Jones hitting the biggest drop in many a year. Grocery prices soaring. Gas prices back on the rise. Foreclosures and walk-aways happening every day. Even so-called wealthy people are forced to make some changes to their lives.

One of the traps we fall into, when times get rough like now, is living paycheck to paycheck. We might have had to dip into savings. Our stored foods for emergencies are now like a grocery store jackpot. And we can’t just switch jobs because there are very few open jobs to go around.

We have to… live paycheck to paycheck.

My hubby works. He works long and hard for a little pittance of a paycheck, with the introduction of the foreign tax, Vancouver realtors like him are struggling. He takes over when the manager is gone, but doesn’t get any of the perks or a matching title. He does special projects when no one else knows how to code the system, without added benefits. If he were to look for a job now, well, we glanced around and there’s nothing anywhere near comparable.

I collect a small amount of disability. Some days I can barely move or remember my name, but I (usually) make myself get out of bed. Son and Hubby need me. As do the puppy, the dog, our garden, and you, our wonderful readers. On days I feel better, I write a few days worth of postings on the probability that I might not want or be able to get online.

We live “paycheck to paycheck”, it’s tough, but even our friend Dave Jenkins has to look into selling real estate. Even though we had savings and stockpilings, hard times hit us like everyone else. We’ve dipped into everything. So I decided to do a little research, to help us but also for those of you who may be in a similar situation:

  1. Consider moving into a cheaper living situation (if we can’t afford to pay cash for our next homestead, we’ll rent or move in with mom-in-law or do something else);
  2. Take care of your stress (see our earlier posting: “Don’t Stress”
  3. Take responsibility for your situation – whether you got laid off by no fault of your own, it was an act of god or you blew your mind and laid into your boss – it doesn’t matter. You need to move forward. Accept that it happened, it’s in the past, and now you can look to the future as a bright new adventure.
  4. Hold yourself responsible for your financial future. Even if you have a partner, each of you take 100% responsibility on your shoulders and leave it there. Consider it a nice little jacket you can wear, and you’ll shed a thread here and there as you work to beyond the “paycheck to paycheck” syndrome.
  5. Take control of the situation. I’m a list person. Here’s what I came up with for us:
  • More Income: Yard sale. E-Bay. Moving to a smaller place or renting or whatever. Writing more books. Adding to our Amazon store. Using more coupons when shopping.
  • Less Spending: Our spending is already pretty limited. We don’t have extras like cable. We both have old junky PAID-FOR cars so there’s no trading for cheaper cars. I only drive once or twice a week. We combine our errands. Our newspaper subscription is about to run out but we’re not renewing. We could use more of our stored foods (including the dehydrated produce from our last year’s garden). We WILL reduce eating out to only once or twice a week, and set a limit to how much we can spend per meal (for the three of us, we can do ok on $25 – we need to get that lower). Hmm… still thinking of more.

So far so good? Okay – next few steps:

  1. Make the decision that you deserve better. You are a wonderful person, with many gifts and talents, and a good spirit. You are on Earth as a human to enjoy the human experience, so doggone-it… enjoy it! You deserve a terrific life, and by-gum, you’re gonna go for it! You have the education and experience and know-how to get that dream job, or to start a business of your own or to sell your favorite hobby/crafts. Remind yourself why you’re so special and so wonderful. Then remind yourself that you are worth earning good money – better money! – because of your special gifts and talents.
  2. Here’s another opportunity for a list: write down (or journal) this process. Why haven’t you earned as much money as you feel your deserve? List all of the excuses, er, reasons. These are just stumbling blocks, nothing more. Limiting beliefs. Are you really convinced that they actually true? Do people who earn more think these things about themselves?

Now… are you ready to change things? To earn what you are worth?

  1. Ok… imagine yourself earning the money you decided you wanted. Does that allow you more time on your homestead? With your loved ones? Do you see your storage space filling up with ammo and dried foods and toilet paper?
  2. Start hanging out with people who see you as the valuable person you are. Your new self-image can definitely match other people’s image of themselves. If you have a “friend” who tells you you’re stupid for even thinking about looking for a new job in this market, or that you should just shut up and stay put, or that you could never make money selling your cinnamon apple trats, drop them like a bad habit. Along the same vein, do you have “friends” who would say horrible things if you suddenly began earning a good hefty amount of money? Would they be so jealous that they would find any little thing to pick on you about? You need positive people around you. The more positive and encouraging, the better.
  3. Time to get started…. do you have a list yet of what you can do? Carve wooden toys? Grow veggies for sale? Bake homemade bread for a local organic restaurant? Baby-proof a home? Train dogs? Babysit in your home?
  4. Once you’ve made your list, affix your pricing structure. Whatever numbers you calculate, add on a bit more (because believing you are valuable might be a little too new to you).
  5. Start a personal blog, talking about your personal life but DON’T give out too much personal information. You want prospective employers to see the blog and your resume and examples of your work, and KNOW that you’re the perfect person for their company. Strong, steady, personable, committed to doing a great job, etc. And you want potential clients (for self-employment) to see you are not a fly-by-night situation, and that you’ll deliver as promised. Stay away from facebook, etc. because while those are social networking sites, they are starting to get the wrong subtext going. Be upstanding.
  6. Are you going to look for a better job? Get help with your resume to update it for today’s economy. When you see a want-ad, you need to modify your resume to THAT job, because the person on the receiving end of your resume will be looking for the same key words in your resume that was in their advertisement. Make sure your resume is spell-checked, error-free, and on crisp white resume paper. The cover letter should be well-thought out, again using those same key words that were in the job advertisement, and clean/error-free. The envelope should be the same paper quality as the resume and cover letter, and typed neatly (yes, get out that typewriter if you need to).
  7. Network: use your blog, your friends, your associates, former colleagues, etc. Build up your network of contacts, and your distribution. Tell everyone your situation (looking for a job as a [fill-in-the-blank] or starting to sell your homemade [fill-in-the-blank]. If you make baskets or candles, you HAVE to market them online! Do you do any kind of training? Make a video and sell it as an immediate (auto-response) download. Word of mouth will help you.

To summarize… we’re not saying to quit the job you have because that better one is coming. Please don’t. Not in this economy.

We’re saying with a little hard work and following the steps above, you will be able to change your life without too much disruption. And it’s better than sitting and looking at the computer screen, watching your stocks tank and the corporate giants like AIG get even more bailouts! (sorry, had to get that barb in)

YOU are the only person who can change your life. YOU are the only one who truly knows what you are capable of. YOU are the best person in the world to do what YOU can do. Step it up. Do it.

Besides, NOW is the best time to change your income style because if the S*** ever (!) hits the fan, you will need to have an alternate source of income. Right?