02-19-2017  8:45 am      •     

I think it should be stressed that the United States goes into a recession every 10 years or so. For an average working family the message of a coming recession is: 'Save as much as possible for the inevitable rainy day.' 
To recession-proof your life take the following steps today.

1. Don't panic. See the silver lining. With panic comes fear, and no good decisions get made from fear. Understand that recessions are totally natural and a normal part of our cyclic economy. We just don't remember the last time because we've been living in a booming economy for several years. Remember, the economy always recovers. So keep a positive perspective. If anything, a recession affords you a good opportunity to stop and take a deep breath. You may have been living too close to the edge before and spending way beyond your means. Now it's time to re-boot your life.

2. Be modest about money. This can be hard to do because we tend to be better spenders than savers. But when the economy stumbles, you have to begin living at least within your means —and hopefully below — or you may be forced to later on. If you get a tax rebate this year as part of the "stimulus package," don't rush out to spend all of it.
See if you can save most of it, Just spend a little bit on something you truly need. Like I say, live below your means because it means you won't go broke. This is one of my mantras—whether the economy is booming or not. It will train you to save more and make more money than you ever imagined in the long term.

3. Revisit your resume. We all get lazy when we're in a comfy job. But you would do well to keep your resumes fresh and up to date so if an opportunity emerges to change jobs, or if you are among those in an industry that downshifts during a recession and layoffs begin, you will have that resume polished and ready to go. Again, don't panic. If you lose your job, understand that there are always jobs out there—even in a recession.

4. Look for deals, but watch out for snakes. Even though there may be a mild "recession" on the horizon, there are ways to make money no matter what. Someone is always buying something online (ahem, eBay). A bull is always lurking in the stock market. Recession-proof industries include pharmaceuticals and household goods giants like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, and McDonalds. And when stocks plummet that means you can find good deals. Today's high-interest rates on savings accounts also mean you can sock away money and watch it grow effortlessly. Looking to buy a home? It's a buyer's market now, so if you've been waiting to get into the real estate market and if you plan to stay put for at least 5 years, this might be your ideal time to buy. But watch out: troubled times call out the snake oil salesmen. Be brutally cautious about investing in any business or person. Scams and get-rich-quick schemes run rampant during recessions.

5. Stay focused. Don't pretend that your debts and responsibilities are not there just because "everyone is in debt" or "the economy is bad." A "recession" doesn't give you permission to lose sense and sensibility. Stay focused on continuing to pay down your debts, and keeping your wallet "fit." Get real about where you stand financially if you're having a hard time keeping up with your bills, such as your mortgage payment. Seek help before you slip down a slippery slope. You'd be surprised by how much your creditors and lenders may cut you some slack if you talk to then now, rather than later.
Farrah Gray is the author of "Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success" and the "Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out". He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. www.drfarrahgray.com

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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