The stock market plunged today – down around 9 percent at one point – as Greece’s financial troubles continue to weigh on the world economy. But that doesn’t mean that you need to wallow in your 401(k) losses tonight. (In fact, I recommend avoiding logging into your account to see exactly how much has evaporated.)
Here are some of my suggestions for how to stay up when the market goes down. (These tips were originally published during the market losses of October 2008.)
- Hole up. Cook, rent movies, or schedule time on your couch and celebrate the basics that you can still count on, whether it's a favorite meal or favorite person. There's something comforting about knowing that even when times are tight—and they might get extremely tight—you can still enjoy yourself.
- Make sure your money is as safe as possible. Now is not the time to get out of the stock market. But if you have savings in a bank account or money market fund, make sure you understand what your financial institution is doing to protect your cash, whether it's through government insurance or diversification. Many institutions, aware of their customers' concerns, have been posting updates on their websites.
- Find a new (free) hobby. Walking, Japanese tea ceremonies, knitting...the possibilities are practically endless. Many technical skills, such as wood burning or building a tree house, can be learned online, at no charge.
- Focus on relationships. Spend the afternoon with a friend who's going through a rough time, with your mom, or with your spouse. A long walk followed by coffee won't put you back more than $10.
- Watch the evening news, but skip all-day cable. Throughout the day, the financial news channels jump to the market's every move. In contrast, few things are more soothing than Brian Williams's calm voice at the end of the day. Even when the news is bad, he just wrinkles his brow a bit and carries on—as we all should.