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Insurance column: How to make 2010 a better year

It is New Year’s Eve and you probably don’t need or want another insurance article, so I wanted to offer some thoughts about the economy. Specifically, what if anything, the common man can do about our economic slump to help turn things around.

Here are some ideas:

1. Pay down debt. Work toward paying off those credit cards. We all need to live within our means. A lot of credit card purchases are things we want, not things we need. By working toward the point where we can pay our credit card balance in full when it is due, we will simplify our lives and increase our savings accounts, so we can help the economy in other ways. Paying down debt includes paying on your mortgage and not walking away from your house. Foreclosures don’t just hurt you, they also hurt neighborhood home values. If you cannot make the amount of mortgage payment originally expected, see if your lender will work with you to accept a lower payment so you can stay in your house.

2. Spend what you can. Consumer confidence is slowly coming back. The more we spend, the more quickly the economy will recover. Companies that make and sell products, especially, need to have a greater demand for their product before they have to hire in order to meet a growing demand. A growing demand for anything will not occur unless we buy. But, as I said above, we need to save, so we will have money to spend and buy wisely.

3. Take some reasonable risks by investing. Putting your money under the mattress is not good for you or the economy. Investing should produce several positive results: It will increase your savings for a “rainy day” or for spending in a way to help our economy and it can increase your retirement savings account and can help create more jobs, either directly in the companies you invest in or indirectly in the companies that buy from or sell to the companies you invest in.

4. Pay your taxes. Our federal, state and local governments are hurting. Whether you agree with all the government programs or not, we have a responsibility to pay taxes as citizens.

5. Give to charities, including your local church if you are involved in one. Many non-profits are really hurting for funds, because giving is down. By spreading the wealth, you not only help to fill a real need in other’s lives but may actually help the economy recover because some of those funds will turn into spending by others. While the government does a lot of good, charities and churches need to be in the forefront because they can often respond more quickly while the government focuses on providing the infrastructure and services we cannot provide for ourselves.

May we work together to make 2010 a better year for us all.

Alden Weichel, of Bradenton Insurance, can be reached at (941) 748-0511.

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