Chances are, you've experienced some form of financial loss in this recession.

Maybe your home is at risk, you've lost your job or your portfolio's decline has you rethinking retirement or Junior's college plans. Even if you haven't dealt with major money troubles, the economy is, no doubt, testing your sense of financial well-being. We all need tools to cope with these worries -- both large and small.

Fortunately, religious groups, professional coaches and psychologists are getting into the financial advice business, sharing strategies for dealing with money misfortune. Here are tips from three experts.


Rebecca Thomley volunteered as a mental health responder for the Interstate 35W bridge collapse and recently held a seminar for Minnesotans facing unemployment. As a clinical psychologist, she said that people react similarly to both natural and man-made disaster. But with man-made disasters, such as our financial system's current crisis, we tend to dwell on who's to blame and what could have been done differently. In order to move on, Thomley suggests these steps:

Accept that change is a part of life. "Goals that were attainable may no longer be attainable as a result of the situation," Thomley said. Accepting that fact will help you to focus on what's within your control. For example, you may have thought you could retire next year, but your nest egg tells a different story. Accept this reality and you may find that by making lifestyle changes, your retirement goal is not as far off as you think. Or that there's a silver lining in working longer.

Take it one day at a time. If the big picture is overwhelming, ask yourself "What's the one thing I can accomplish today?" and focus on that, Thomley suggested.

Accept help from loved ones. It's hard to do, but it makes both the recipient and the giver feel better. And as more people deal with job loss or foreclosure, asking for a reference or accepting a couch to sleep on gets easier, Thomley said.


Ordained Buddhist priest Barbara Murphy leads a group dealing with financial loss at the Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul. But Murphy, who goes by the name Flying Fish in her spiritual practice, says the techniques she offers to help individuals deal with crises can work for a universal audience.

Find a support group, whether formal or informal. You'll gain more insight about how you're coping with loss by listening to others about their losses. "When people get together in a group there's a lot of wisdom," she said.

Don't mask your emotions. Accept that your loss is an authentic experience that should be embraced. When someone asks how you are doing postlayoff, "Don't say, 'I'm doing great,'" said Murphy, unless that's the truth. Say something like, "'I have the sense that I'm going to be fine, but now I'm experiencing a great loss of identity.'"

Embrace the positive that can come out of loss. Murphy said being laid off from a disliked job can bring about feelings of freedom and relief. Stepping off the workplace treadmill also affords an opportunity to "do some soul searching related to what's of value" in life, she said.


When the St. Paul Public Library asked professional certified life coach Michelle Burns to speak about addressing money worries, the founder of Design Your Destiny hesitated. "I don't have a financial background," she said. Upon reflection, she realized that the strategies she gives clients to make life changes work well on financial matters, too.

Clean up unfinished money business, if possible, whether it's credit-card debt or a messy checkbook. Be sure to purge outdated money beliefs, too, because they tend to hold people back. For example, the belief that with each job you must make more money to be successful -- even though you could live on less -- could keep good job prospects and career happiness at bay.

Dare to dream. It's important to create a vision of the future, said Burns, by transcending nagging practical concerns and daring to dream. Instead of dwelling on the downward spiral, try an activity she calls "spiraling up." Ask yourself "what if" something positive happened? Then ask, "better yet, what if" something even more positive happened? This exercise helps people to focus on possibilities instead of limits.

Remember we are resourceful. "There is tons of bad news right now, but the good news is, as a society, we are resourceful every time ... from these breakdowns, there are breakthroughs."

Kara McGuire is on maternity leave. Follow her on Twitter until she gets back: