Many of us share the same problem—we don't think through how our choices might play out down the line. Be it jumping into home ownership without fully understanding the mechanics of mortgages or choosing to become a stay-at-home mom when the family income is already stretched thin, financial stress can be greatly minimized with some advance planning.
Anticipate. Living in the moment doesn't mean you can forget about the future. Financial security often boils down to the simple task of anticipating the consequences of your actions. The goal is to make sure that whatever choices you make today you can handle tomorrow. If you don't have health insurance, the bottom line is that you'd better keep a lot of cash in an emergency fund to pay for life's curveballs.
Address. If you end up in a squeeze, the worst move you can make is to do nothing. Refusing to open bills or relying on hope and a prayer to bail you out of a steep mortgage won't cut it. The more committed you are to taking action now, the better off you'll be.
Adjust. If your finances have pushed you to the brink, it's time to step back and go in another direction. For example, I'm a huge supporter of any woman choosing to be a stay-at-home parent but only if it makes financial sense for the family. If it doesn't, there's still no need to jump back into the workforce at 60 hours a week; find a part-time position to help you get on better footing. Every problem is solvable if you stop holding on to the past and embrace the decisions that make sense going forward.
Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, December 6, 2013