Recession Proofing Your Life

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They say no news is good news, and the fact that the news is packed to the brim with financial stories is a clear indicator that things are bad. Real bad. Most of you Babbies are employed and I am pretty sure you or someone in your family knows someone who has recently been laid-off or has had their income reduced by a loss of hours. Their are very few occupations that are recession proof (ex. Medical, Government) and even then their are no guarantees. Here are a some actions you can take right now to protect your career, job, and livelihood and a few things you can do to get ahead as well.

Career:

1) Stabilize Your Career: If you are early in your work-life and open to a new career path there are many sectors and career paths that are more recession proof than others as noted above. Health care, security, government, and education are a few sectors where jobs are will continue to be in demand. We will always need doctors, nurses, people to protect us (crime goes up in a recession, not down) and teachers. And, if you are in an area where their is significant population growth, the need for these occupations will be through the roof. These aren’t the only paths to stability but be sure when you plan your next career move take care in choosing your career path.

2) Get it right, get it tight: So you say you have a stable job and it meets your economic needs (stimulation is important too), then there is no reason that you should lose it. Step your game up and get your shine on. Take on additional responsibilities, learn new tasks, and procedures, and come up with ways to to add value to your company. While these actions may not lead you to more money tomorrow, it will allow management to see that you may be more valuable than your colleges. I see those posts on confession Friday about work. At the very least, look, engaged in the work you do and don’t slack off.  Bottom line, don’t give them a reason to dump you.

3) Pay attention: I’m not saying to become nosy Nancy, though many of you may already be there, I’m just saying it may be a good idea to watch what your boss or your bosses boss does. Tune into other departments in your company and build relationships. Doing this may provide you with hints about trends in the company (lay-offs, restructures) and can help best position you to be safe. It probably wouldn’t kill you to look at your companies press releases or quarterly filings so that you understand the “health” of company and know when things are going south.

4) Brush up your Resume: This may be the time to head back to school for a higher degree, or obtain certifications (CFA,

Money:

1) Save. Then save some more, then save some more. We (Americans, African Americans especially) totally suck at saving, myself included. Unless you have some sort of golden parachute waiting for you, no paycheck is guaranteed. Build an emergency fund in case you and/or someone in your family loses their job. To calculate how much you will need, add up all of your expenses and multiple by 6.6. For example:

Rent: 750

Utilities: 150

Cell Phone: 50

Cable/Internet: 50

Food: 150

Car costs (insurance, gas): 120

Debt (Sallie Mae, Toyota Finance, Pookies Furniture company): 360

Total: 1930

1930*6.6=12,738

$12,738!!! Yep, that’s six months of expenses plus a 10% per month overage for other expenses. Don’t fret, even though you may feel like you need all of the money right now, start saving on a monthly basis and you will soon be on your way to an emergency fund. Savings interest rates are pretty low right now, but there are some good accounts with no service fees out there such as the ING orange savings, that may fit your savings need. You can also have an emergency fund from a home equity loan, credit card, or your retirement, but there are credit and tax implications with those route. I’m not recommending this route, but if you don’t have the money and times get rough, you have to do what you have to do.

2) Spread your risk: This may be the time to rebalance your portfolio. Like mama said “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There are many professionals who can assist you with this and many companies contract out assistance, contact your benefits department to see if your company does this.

3) Cut costs and debt: Consider dropping your cable package, cutting back on the number of times you hit up the cinema, and/or your high-end salon visits. This is something that is just about easier done than said. Try to cut down on some of the debt you have on your balance sheet as well.  Start with the debt that has the highest interest and start paying down.

5) Shop: No, I didn’t stutter, I said shop, but only if you have that emergency fund in the works and you aren’t inundated with debt. We all watched the Dow fall during the fall and winter months, and most experts think stocks won’t fall a substantial amount more. This may be the time to beef up your portfolio as stocks are at a discount. There has been much talk about first time home buyer credits in the works so this also may be the time to purchase a home as real estate prices are super low (as are rates). Do you need a new vehicle? As sales are down in the car industry, cars are cheap and there are deals to be had if it is something you absolutely need, no, I’m not talking about that E-class Benz. ;)

Most of these actions are common sense, but you may not be practicing them. Take some time out with with your family to plan out a way to recession proof your life.

As always feel free to shoot me a pm with any questions you may have.  On the next installment, I’ll talk about what to do when when you do lose your job.

Posted by sweetpy   @   28 February 2009 0 comments
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