Sesiapa yang mengikuti upacara mengangkat sumpah Presiden Amerika Syarikat ke 44 Barrack Hussein Obama pasti dapat mendengar dengan jelas kenyataan beliau semasa membuat ucaptama Presiden tentang ekonomi. Beliau mengakui keadaan ekonomi dunia yang teruk dan kemelesetan ekonomi yang tidak dapat dielakkan. "What we are facing are real" katanya.
Di Malaysia pun kita telah mengakui hakikat ini walaupun dalam keadaan "denial". Satu pihak mengatakan kita berhadapan dengan masalah dan dalam masa yang sama kita juga mengatakan kita "tidak ada masalah". Namun itu tidak penting. C-bOk akan mengulas tentang perkara ini di dalam catatan yang lain.
C-bOk terbaca artikel berikut tentang bagaimana kita sebagai individu hendak berhadapan dengan kemelesetan ekonomi. Mungkin berguna untuk kita semua. Sekiranya sesuai tidak salah untuk dipraktikkan.
Coping With Recession
Build an emergency fund
The most essential weapon in your armoury against hard times. Start saving. Even a few bucks a month into a savings account will mount up surprisingly quickly. Set up a direct debit from your transaction account so its taken straight from your take-home pay each month and hopefully you will not notice it too much.
Pay off high interest debts
Credit cards and personal loans are an expensive liability, with rates averaging almost 20 per cent. If you cannot afford to clear the debt, switch to a card with a lower rate of interest.
Some cards have zero per cent balance transfer deals and you can often switch from card to card for a long period, extending the time you pay no interest, which in turn makes your repayments go further. Try and clear the card in this time.
Also, try asking your bank for a lower rate. You would be surprised at how often this works. Or, when you apply for a zero-rate card from another bank, ask your own bank to match or beat the zero per cent period. When they realise you are serious about leaving, they listen -- and they're often prepared to bargain.
Set a budget
By noting down your income and outgoings each month, it is much easier to see areas where you could cut back and use that money to pay down your debts.
Get insurance through super
While you might not be able to insure your mortgage repayments against losing your job, you can -- and should -- protect them against accident or sickness preventing you from working.
And while there are policies available on the open market, there are often policies available through your super fund at a significantly reduced price.
Check with your super fund manager for details and switch policies, if necessary, to get insurance.
Reduce your mortgage
This is most people's biggest expense and biggest worry.
If you can build up a fund -- maybe an offset account against the mortgage -- it can buy you valuable time, allowing you to take "payment holidays'' and skip a few months' payments, until you get back on your feet.
It's a crucial buffer to build into your finances. In addition, any money you have set against your mortgage is earning the best rate of interest, tax-free.
That's because you are saving interest on the offset account balance at the same rate as the mortgage rate. Based on a rate of 9.5 per cent, that is equivalent to a gross return of about 12 per cent for a basic rate taxpayer.
Don't buy whitegoods
It's s classic pre-recession advice. Don't go buying big consumer items because, when the economic downturn hits -- as it already is -- retailers become more desperate for business and are prepared to bargain.
But you have to be brave, throw aside any coyness and be prepared to ask for daring discounts.
If you don't get what you want, shop around. Remember, retailers of all kinds have big margins to play with, so the right shop will give you a big discount. Playing one off against the other is a good tactic.
Sell your property
If you're looking to move, but have been holding out for a better price, be realistic and take a reasonable offer and move on.
Property prices never fare well in economic downturns because fewer people can afford the costs involved in moving and decorating.
Property prices have already shown signs that they are moving downwards and have been edging down in southern and western Sydney for some time. But the pace and scale of the falls will be much more severe, the worse the downturn becomes.
Across Sydney, prices are just about holding up, but experts say prices could fall by an average of 10 per cent or more in the next year, with the most bearish pundits predicting property price falls of 30 per cent, if recession bites.
So move now and make the most of cheaper furniture and whitegoods in the shops next year.