In this election year and with the election drawing closer, we hear a great deal of chatter about the middle class, which the politicians seem to have just discovered. It is extremely important that the presidential candidate receive the middle class vote along with the woman vote, another segment they seem to have just discovered.

If you are a member of the great American middle class and have been having money problems, you are not alone. In a recent study released by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of those who considered themselves “middle class” reported they were having trouble just holding on to their standard of living.

A whopping 85 percent said they were having trouble just holding on to the standard of living they have enjoyed for the past ten years. The majority of those surveyed felt the legislative bodies were partially to blame.

Now comes some so-called financial “economic experts” who predict that next year will be even worse economically than the present. They admit that the economy is slowly growing, but they have what they consider realistic reasons for concern.

Europe’s economy is not responding to the physical austerity that was subscribed; China’s economy is not as robust as it has been; the Middle East has all sorts of problems and even Mother Nature doesn’t seem interested in helping the situation.

There is little or no confidence in Congress doing anything to help the situation. There is uncertainty as to what taxes will be due next year. Voters wonder if the Bush tax cuts will be allowed to expire, etc.

For the sake of argument, say that 2013 will be tougher. How you approach the problem will make a great difference. It is imperative that your attitude be correct.

Moaning and groaning and complaining does not help one bit, but if you accept this economic set-back as a challenge, you will be considerably better off, financially and emotionally.

The prudent approach is to meet the problem head-on. Don’t wait until 2013. Act now; then if 2013 is tougher, you will be prepared. If it is not, you will be far ahead of the game with your increased savings to prove it.

Make changes in the budget and call a family meeting. If your income is the same, you know what you will have to work around. List mortgage, loan, or insurance payments that will probably remain the same, but remember that in a dire emergency, these amounts may be reduced.

List the items that can be cut. There is a great deal of difference in approaching budget cuts as a challenge instead of feeling that you are desperately trying to make a change.

This can become a game for your family; (or for you as an individual) keep careful account of where money is going.

The food budget is one that will allow you to make improvements. You don’t have to be Rachel Ray to be creative. Learn enough about food so you can substitute wisely.

Search for recipes that will save you money but give the same nutritional value. Have a breakfast meal at suppertime instead of the regular supper meal. Save bits of food for soup or stew and have just soup or stew for a meal or these items with a sandwich. You are going to be surprised how much you can save if you put your mind to it.

At the beginning of the recession, many households cut their “running around” drastically, but slowly have slipped back into the old ways of making more trips than absolutely necessary. Return to these careful trip rules.

Accept the challenge. You can do it.

Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at