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4 ways you may find a silver lining in a tough economy

Rather than getting discouraged by all the scary headlines, take advantage of the opportunities a rough economy can provide. Here are possible places you can look.

Does the economic downturn have a bright side? For some, the answer is a resounding "yes." As you rethink your budget, here are four ways that may help you make the most of a temporary slump in the economy:

1. Scrutinize your spending.

If your income has declined, focus first on where you're spending your money, and prioritize spending on items that are most critical, suggests Tom Herbruck, a retirement planning consultant with Gallagher Retirement Services. "Revisit your budget, looking for savings opportunities that you haven't examined in the past," he says. "Maybe you've never paid much attention to coupons, but now could be the time." And due in part to the struggling economy, low-cost activities such as gardening, playing board games and cooking at home have grown in popularity.

2. Consider investing in bargain stocks.

Historically low stock prices may provide you an opportunity to invest in stocks that you might not otherwise have been able to afford. The market typically increases over time and as it eventually rebounds, your purchase may provide a nice return on your investment over the long term.[1]

3. Head back to school.

Advancing in your career may require new skills, and for many, that makes additional education a logical next step. Some community colleges offer free or reduced tuition to laid-off workers. If your income is $80,000 or less ($160,000 for married couples), you also may be eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $2,500 for tuition and other expenses related to higher education.[2],[3]

4. Add to your income.

Have free time? Consider taking on freelance work. Herbruck notes that starting a home-based business — using skills you already have — can help keep overhead low.

Another thing to consider: Your attitude. Learning to adjust to and understand what you can control (your budget) versus what you can't (the economy) may be good for both your physical and mental health.

Get started.

Has the recession led you to reevaluate your goals?

Use our interactive retirement planning tool to help get back on track.

 

[1]
Mutual funds and other investment products are subject to investment risk. Share values will fluctuate and investments, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
[2]
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=218389,00.html
[3]
Contact your tax advisor regarding specific program income guidelines.

Tom Herbruck and Gallagher Retirement Services are not affiliates of the Principal Financial Group or any of its member companies.

While this communication may be used to promote or market a transaction or an idea that is discussed in the publication, it is intended to provide general information about the subject matter covered and is provided with the understanding that none of the member companies of The Principal are rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice. It is not a marketed opinion and may not be used to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, or accounting obligations and requirements.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company a member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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