Millions of Americans are suffering from our current economic conditions and the hopes that things will be looking up soon often waiver, even for the financially savvy. The good news is there are things you can do to "recession proof" your finances.

One of the most important things to focus on is paying down your debt, especially the unsecured kind, like credit cards. These types of debts often carry high interest rates, which can make things worse when times are tough and money is tight. If you are struggling with debt, consider a debt consolidation plan to get out of debt more quickly without sacrificing your tightly-stretched budget.

Read on to find out how you can "recession proof" your finances!

Reconsider your Standard of Living

Many of us are living well beyond our means and using credit cards to do so. Ditch the plastic and consider paying cash. The key to living within your means is to spend less than you earn.

For many of us this simple tactic remains difficult as we struggle to "keep up with the Joneses" and our need for "things." Consider downsizing your life. Take a look at each of these expenses and see if you can create some room in your budget to pay down your debt more quickly.

* Home

* Car

* Cell phone

* Cable

* Entertainment

* Dining out

Make Saving a Priority

Now more than ever, it is important to build up your savings. When times are tough you may need to fall back on emergency savings to pay the bills. The next lay off, medical crisis, or unexpected divorce may make things even harder for awhile. Having savings to help you through may make the difference between incurring debt and needing debt help.

Make saving a regular line item in your budget even if you can only afford a small amount each paycheck.

Be a Savvy Shopper

Prices on everything from milk to gas are rising at a rapid rate. When you are struggling, it is more important than ever to shop smarter. Here are some things you can do:

* Bargain hunt when you can

* Comparison shop

* Pass on things you don't really need (Ask yourself if you can truly afford the item, and do a cost-benefit analysis.)

* Don't be an emotional spender

As consumers, we have no control over our economic conditions, but what we can control is how we prepare for and react to them.

If you are in need of a credit counseling service, don't wait. Determining your options is the first step to making things easier to deal with. Then take the necessary steps to recession proof your finances and prepare for the unexpected.