ATLANTA, Ga. – Crown Financial Ministries CEO Chuck Bentley laid out a plan for surviving a fall from the fiscal cliff in an op-ed piece at Fox News this week. “I will make a prediction,” observed Bentley. “A phony fix is in the works. Disaster will be averted—seemingly, temporarily. But for those who would minimize the impact of a coming economic collapse, personal financial changes must be made.”
Without any agreement to avert the fiscal cliff before year’s end, nearly 90 percent of Americans will pay more taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. Taxes would rise an average of about $3,500 per household as almost every tax cut enacted since 2001 would disappear. And the impact of falling from the fiscal cliff could result in a drop of 0.5% in real gross domestic product, estimates the CEO.
“Don’t wait for government to act,” advised Bentley, outlining a course of action that can stave off the financial hardships that are on the horizon. Everyone should:
• Check your deductibles. Expect the fiscal cliff fix to include more taxes. This is a good time to look at your withholding declarations to avoid giving the government a free loan that you will later celebrate as a “bonus” when you receive your refund.
• Review your health care status. Under pressure from Obamacare, it is very possible that companies could choose to pay a fine rather than provide insurance or to reduce hours to lower the number of fulltime employees. They won’t do this because they’re “evil,” but because they’re trying to survive. Get to know the healthcare market so that if you need to purchase individual health insurance, you’re ready.
• Decrease your expenses. It’s clear that given Uncle Sam’s voracious appetite for other people’s money, you will find the rising cost of necessities (under pressure from rising energy prices, increased taxes and healthcare costs) will impact all budgets. Already retailers, especially in the food industry, are talking about price increases. Begin planning today to cover those costs.
• Downsize your debt. As the Bible says, “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Free yourself from the burden of debt to give yourself flexibility and more financial margin to adapt to changes in this economy.
• Diversify your income sources. About 50 percent of the global workforce is part-time. This trend will hit the U.S. as more companies are forced to cover the costs of healthcare. Multiple income streams are a hedge against losing a single full-time job. Consider a home-based business to supplement your income.
• Diversify your investments. Too many people rely largely on the stock market for their investments, unconcerned that they have 100 percent of their money in equities. Investments can be made in many forms, including bonds, real estate, currencies and commodities. This is a timeless hedge against volatility.
• Plan for charitable giving. With so many Americans hurting, consider how much more you can give and what you can do to ease the suffering of your fellow Americans. This will also reduce the amount you must pay in taxes.
• Begin a budget (if you haven’t already). Many tools are available for those who want to try planning to survive and thrive, no matter the economy. Crown is a good place to start to strengthen your finances for the turbulence ahead.
“The biggest mistake people can make in an uncertain economy is to fail to prepare,” noted Bentley. “Rather than watching and waiting to see what the government will do, reduce your uncertainty and anxiety by taking corrective action now.”
For more than 35 years, Crown’s staff at the leading financial non-profit has developed free resources along with cutting-edge tools to help people build a solid foundation that allows business and people to do well, no matter the economy. To learn more, visit www.crown.org.