The best lessons often come from overcoming challenges. That's one way to view the struggling economy.

Many people will cut spending, make sacrifices and face some of the biggest obstacles of their lives in the coming years. It's not going to be fun, but the recession has the potential to teach you skills that will help your finances long after it's over. In the coming months, you'll likely become better at:

Sacrificing: Chances are that you are going to have to sacrifice in the coming months. That can mean moving to a smaller home or keeping the thermostat lower. Accepting that you can't always have everything you want will help you live within your means.

Setting priorities: You'll probably have to reduce spending. Deciding where your money should go might keep you up at night, but it will help you understand your wants and needs. The recession will clarify the things that come first for you and your family.

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Being resourceful: If you don't consider yourself creative, the recession should prove you wrong. There will be times when you're going to make what seems impossible work. You'll find that you're more resourceful than you thought, a trait that will pay off years after the recession ends.

Creating a safety net: Everyone needs an emergency fund. Financial or professional crises arise, particularly during a recession. It's important to have money saved to cover your living costs as you work toward a solution. If you've experienced a challenge like a job loss, you'll be better prepared to face those situations should they arise again.

Knowing what's important: While having enough money to pay your expenses is important, you'll learn that money is less important than you previously thought. Recessions can often bring families together as they work to stretch their budgets and find cheaper ways to buy groceries and have fun. Plus, your children might learn to be more responsible about spending.

There may be times when your situation seems dire and you don't know what to do. But if you can survive a recession, your resolve will be strengthened and you'll be better prepared for the next economic downturn.

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