How's your personal economy doing?

J.D. Roth

Tess Vigeland: And before we leave this notion of dealing with macroeconomic uncertainty by fixing your own microeconomics, let's hear from commentator J.D. Roth.

He's not concerning himself with the markets or the media coverage. He's paying attention to something else.


J.D. Roth: Everywhere I go, I hear news of financial doom and gloom. The stock market is crashing! The dollar's inflating! Oil is peaking and homes are foreclosing! It's 2008 all over again.

Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. I don't know. What I do know is that I've learned some lessons from past meltdowns. The national economy may be sinking, but my personal economy is ready to weather the storm. What do I mean?

First, I have no debt. I carried consumer debt for nearly 20 years, and every time the economy sputtered, I worried what might happen if I couldn't make my monthly payments. Being debt-free lets me sleep well at night.

But it's more than that. I now have emergency savings. And I keep my expenses well below my income. Meanwhile, my investments match my risk tolerance. A big chunk of my retirement is in bonds because the ups and downs of the stock market make me nervous.

So, now I'm able to ignore the bleak economic news and live my life as normal. I'm not sharing this to brag. Yes, it's important to pay attention to the financial news. But my goal is to show that while the national economy does affect us, how we handle our personal finances is far more important.

Many of my friends have learned this too. After losing jobs during the last downturn, or selling stocks in a panic when the market dropped, today the people I talk to are much more stoic. Or pragmatic. Or smart. They too have paid off debt, built savings and developed investment plans.

This is my mantra: Nobody cares more about your money than you do. When times are flush, you need to prepare for an uncertain future. Then when the next crisis comes around, you can remain calm while the stock market tumbles and unemployment rises and inflation rears its ugly head.

We can't change the national economy -- but we can control our household finances. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for the health and growth of our own personal economy.


Vigeland: J.D. Roth is the founder of GetRichSlowly.org. Send us your comments or leave them on our Facebook page.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...