Whether you like it or not, the fact is that there will be difficult times in life. So the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself before they come. If you do, you will survive or even thrive. But if you don’t, such times could ruin you. It’s your preparation that makes the difference.

Preparation takes time though, so don’t wait until the last moment before you start. Start early so that you will be ready when the time comes.

I’m sure there are others, but here are four essential things you need to prepare for difficult times:

1. Emergency fund.

Bad things could happen to your personal finance. For instance, you could lose your job or have to pay a big medical expense. If you aren’t prepared, such events could damage not only your personal finance, but also your health and relationship.

Prepare yourself early by building an emergency fund. Most experts say that you should save at least three months of living expenses there.

2. Network of relationships.

When something bad happens, you can get the help you need through your network. If you lost your job, for instance, you can find a new job through your circle of friends.

Start building your network long before you need it. And remember, the way to build it is by giving. Be there to help them and don’t keep score.

3. Knowledge.

Knowledge is essential for making good decisions. Why? Because it helps you know what options are available and how to compare them with each other. People often make bad decisions simply because they don’t know that there are better options. Or perhaps they don’t know how to evaluate those options.

Build your knowledge so that you won’t fall into that trap. Read blogs. Read books. Watch lectures. Don’t learn things yourself the hard way. Instead, learn from other people’s experiences.

4. Faith.

When you are in a dark time, the most important thing you need is faith. Why? Because you may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so you need faith to keep going.

A strong faith, however, doesn’t come overnight. You need to build it over time through spiritual habits. In my case, those habits are praying and reading the Scripture.

Do what works for you and start building your faith. Don’t wait. You will be glad you did.

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Photo by Sean McGrath