Cents & Sensibility — Practice optimism

Beth Peabody

Advice in last month’s column included conducting a mid-year review of your budget and savings. Another recommendation was to not panic due to news about higher inflation and this year’s extreme financial market volatility. We suggested focusing on your long-term financial goals. A significant rebound in financial markets in July is a timely reminder of this sound advice.

With headline news of wildfires, floods, war and political tensions, at times it is hard to feel optimistic about the future. Adding financial uncertainty surrounding fears of recession can also lead to higher levels of stress and hopelessness. However, having a positive outlook is important to physical and mental health. Being optimistic can lead to better relationships and being happier.

So if you can’t feel optimistic all of the time, try to feel optimistic at least part of the time. Optimism is a style of thinking and not a fixed personality trait and requires practice. Financial insecurity can lead to negative thoughts and feelings of unhappiness. How can you become more optimistic regarding your finances?

  • Savor the good decisions you have made. If you are worried about student debt, for example, focus on the successes you have had because of this commitment to increase knowledge and skills. If you have taken any steps to increase your savings and reduce your spending, be proud of these accomplishments.
  • Reframe negative thoughts. Instead of being overwhelmed with feelings of despair regarding the “state of the world,” use your time, talent and treasure to make a difference. Volunteer on a regular basis at a charity that interests you and can use your help. If you have leadership skills, seek out opportunities to join a nonprofit board or committee that could use your talent. Finally, use your treasure to send a donation — no matter the amount — to charities such as those rushing to help in eastern Kentucky (the Community Foundation of Louisville’s website lists charities to consider).

Take time to surround yourself with positive news that is inspiring and not depressing. Resisting the urge to check your savings balances on days when financial markets are down will lead you to be more optimistic and happier.

Avoid headline news that captures your attention because it is scary! Instead, seek to increase your knowledge about financial markets by reviewing history to help frame the current conditions. As an example, recent news about inflation rates may conjure bad memories of long lines at gas stations and massive employment layoffs. Instead of allowing such headlines to control your mood, seek to be more optimistic by reading past the headlines to learn that the current environment is nothing like that of the 1970s.

Action item for August: seek to use your time, talent and treasure to become more optimistic and ultimately happier and healthy.

Beth Stegner Peabody is CEO of Stegner Investment Associates, Inc., and a 1979 graduate of Sacred Heart Academy.

Previous Cents & Sensibility columns may be viewed at https://therecordnewspaper.org/editorials-commentary/cents-sensibility/.

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