Personal Finance: Surviving Difficult Economic Times

by | May 19, 2023 | Articles

Regardless of the differing views — whether there will be a “hard,” “soft” or “no landing” at all — we have entered a more challenging economic period. While we will never be able to control the timing of an economic slowdown, what we can control is how we prepare for more challenging financial times.

Indeed, it is possible for corporations to survive difficult economic periods…and even thrive afterward. A Harvard study came to this conclusion after looking at the performance of 4,700 public companies during three recent recessions — 1980, 1990 and 2000. While 17 percent of these companies performed poorly through these recessions, almost 10 percent did the opposite: they flourished, outperforming competitors by at least 10 percent in sales and profits growth. A more recent analysis after the global financial crisis of 2008 reinforced this finding: the top 10 percent of companies that performed well during this period saw earnings increase steadily throughout the recession and climb afterwards.
What made the difference? Preparation. When a downturn eventually took place, companies that had contingency plans and had thought through alternative scenarios could switch to survival mode and react defensively.
This may be equally applicable to our individual financial positions. How we survive — and possibly thrive — through a downturn may come down to how well we prepare. In this regard, here are some personal finance ideas — not just for difficult economic times, but regardless of the prevailing economic circumstances:

1. Maintain an Emergency Fund — This typically consists of the equivalent of three to six months of living expenses set aside in the event of an unforeseen financial situation, such as job loss, illness or damage to your home. While the obvious benefit is to help buffer against financial hardship, it can help to avoid taking on debt. For highnet-worth individuals, an emergency fund may be useful to prevent the need to liquidate investments on short notice.

2. Take Stock of Your Cash Flows — Having visibility over your cash inflows and outflows can help better plan your finances. For many, a personal cash flow statement may be a valuable exercise to provide a snapshot of your sources of income, as well as what you’re spending and saving. Many of us have good visibility over our income, but we may not have as clear a picture of where our funds are going. Often, when our clients undertake this exercise, they discover their expenses aren’t exactly what they thought. Once you determine how much you are spending, you can incorporate different rules for managing money. For example, some investors consider setting goals like the “50/30/20 Rule,” which focuses on budgeting 50 percent of inflows for needs, 30 percent for wants and 20 percent for saving and investing

3. Prioritize Your Spending — There may be an opportunity to increase savings by cutting back on non-essential spending. Debt-relief experts suggest that there are common ways to reduce expenditures, such as focusing on insurance, unused memberships or subscriptions and “unconscious spending.”2 For instance, consider revisiting insurance coverage to negotiate better rates through bundling (i.e., home and auto insurance), raising a deductible or dropping nonessential add-ons. Or, you may be unknowingly paying for unused subscriptions, especially if you signed up for a free trial that you have since forgotten. There may be areas to reduce unconscious spending: thoughtless purchases made out of convenience, such as one-click online purchases, expensive coffees, or food delivery that can add up over time.

4. Pay Down Debt — Historically low interest rates made it easy and affordable to assume debt. With rising rates, the cost of debt has substantially increased. If you hold debt, it may be beneficial to focus on paying it down. Consider prioritizing debt subject to the highest interest rates first, such as credit card debt, to reduce the interest paid and allow the principal to be paid down. If you hold a mortgage that will be renewing, shop around to get the best rate possible.

5. Review Your Goals — One way to help keep on track is to review your wealth plan periodically to see how you are tracking to your goals. It acts as a personalized roadmap and can consist of many elements — not just your investments — such as tax strategies, insurance planning, risk management/contingency planning, retirement planning, business succession planning and estate planning. Remember that we are always here to assist.; 2. https://www.
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Dave Cooper, CFP®, CIM®
Senior Investment Advisor Portfolio Manager
[email protected]

Tyler Cockbain, BA, CFP®, CIM®
Senior Investment Advisor Portfolio Manager
[email protected]


Justin Nekechuk, B. Ed
Associate Investment Advisor
[email protected]

 Tower Wealth Advisory
212, 1524 91 St. SW, Edmonton, Alberta T6X 1M5
780.484.5777 ext. 1 or 891
Email: [email protected]

The information contained herein has been provided for information purposes only. Graphs, charts and other numbers are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information has been provided by J. Hirasawa & Associates and is drawn from sources believed to be reliable.

The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. This does not constitute a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell securities of any kind. Market conditions may change which may impact the information contained in this document. Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. (WAPW) and the authors do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, nor does WAPW, nor the authors, assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Before acting on any of the above, please contact me for individual financial advice based on your personal circumstances. WAPW is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.