Have you heard of the misery index? The calculation is actually very simple, it’s the sum of the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation. Somebody decided that adding probably the two most feared economic data points and making one number that is twice as scary should have a name like the misery index and they were right.

The latest reading of 13.0 is highest it has been in 28 years and most Americans can attest to feeling a little bit of the misery. Consumer prices rose 3.9% in just 12 months which is the fastest pace in three years and with the once again rising price of gas, consumers are left with much less disposable income, putting a damper on the pace of economic growth.

Good News… Kind of

The latest inflation reading indicates a slower rate of growth which should help keep prices at a more sustainable growth level in the coming year but this isn’t much of a reason to celebrate. The recent stall in economic activity comes from the amount of Americans who are either out of work or living with less income leaving them unable to spend. When spending stalls and demand dramatically decreases, it’s harder for prices to rise.

If you’re one of those who know first-hand the pain of the misery index, what can you do to lessen your pain?

Accept It

Financially speaking, your misery is very real but how you cope with it is what truly determines the quality of your life. There’s a better than average chance that you lost your job because of factors outside of your control so don’t allow yourself to feel like something is wrong with you.

You’re having trouble finding a job because the job market is tough. Not because you’re unemployable. You’re living paycheck to paycheck but you’re teaching your children that paying what they owe even in tough times is the right thing to do. This is a time to accept the economic conditions of the country but stay focused on the positives that are still alive and well in your life. That’s not easy to do but misery gets old, doesn’t it?

It will get better. You just have to hang in there until it does.

Make Really Big Changes

Are you serious about living better? Live like you have absolutely nothing. Get rid of the cable bill, take the bus or ride a bike, live on cheap food, and get the cheapest cell phone plan you can find. No credit card spending, and get a part time job at a local retail chain that will take up so much time that you won’t have time to miss any of those items you’re living without. Sound radical? It is but how serious are you about getting out of debt and taking control of your financial situation?

No Large Scale Changes

Even if you feel like your job is secure and your finances are stable, now isn’t the time to purchase a new car, a new home, or make other large scale changes to your financial picture. The facts are that you don’t know how safe your job is regardless of where you work or how indispensable you think you are. Stay put and ride out the tough times.

The misery index is up but that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Losers accept defeats while winners find a way. Which one are you.

Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.