You've lost your job, you're about to lose your house, your savings account is empty and the bills are piling up â€¦ The current economic downturn is dragging more and more people into a state of financial panic. Dr. Phil and his expert recession survival squad deliver concrete solutions so you can survive this money crisis:
Dr. Phil's Survival Plan
Do not be in denial. You have to acknowledge the situation and be willing to evaluate it. "This isn't just, like, a rough time. We're down to survival mode. When you've got $20 in a pocket of a family of four, you're shifted into survival mode, and you need to evaluate what the real deal is," Dr. Phil says.
The number one priority for a family is to keep the family unit together. Financial stress can wreak havoc on a marriage. Do not let the current economic downturn deteriorate your marriage and family.
Action Toward Number One Priority
Take action toward your priority. Stop blaming your partner and fighting with your spouse. You got into this mess together; you can get out of this mess together. Maintain your relationship so you have the strength of a family unit to keep moving forward.
Deal with the truth of the situation. "This is math, not magic. If you don't have the money, you need to deal with the reality of that," Dr. Phil says. There is no room for denial. In the past, you may have been able to spend money on clothes, birthday parties and little league dues, but the reality is you cannot afford that anymore.
"This problem can either be a wedge that's driven between you, or it can be glue that pulls you together," Dr. Phil says. "You don't want to turn on each other when you need each other the most, and that would be the real, real tragedy here. This is a teachable moment for your children. It's a teachable moment for children all over America right now."
Keep in mind, there is no room for these:
- No denial
- No ego, pride, emotion
- No venting/blaming
- No off-task action
How to Build an Emergency Fund
Robert Pagliarini is a financial planner and the author of the book, Six Day Financial Makeover: Transform Your Life in Less Than a Week.
Robert recommends prioritizing your expenses. You have to have money to buy food and to pay your cell phone bill, for insurance and gas for the car. It may be time to modify your mortgage or let go of your house, cut out eating at restaurants, cut out shopping for clothes and shoes and cancel the home phone line and cable.
Robert says in this recession, everyone needs to have cash on hand. The one golden rule to survive the financial crisis is to have a big emergency account with six to 12 months of living expenses in cash. He offers tips for building an emergency account as quickly as possible:
Do Not Pay Off Credit Cards
This goes for home equity lines of credit, student loans and other debts as well. Pay just the minimum amount per month. "You need as much cash on hand as possible. If you get laid off, you need to tap into that to pay the bills and to put food on the table. So, just pay the minimums on your credit cards bills, no more. Take the cash that you would have spent and put it in a savings account," he says.
Do Not Save for College
Cash is king. It's better to have money in the bank that you can access immediately in you lose your job than to have that money tied up in a college savings account. Worst-case scenario: You need to tap into your emergency fund, and your kids don't have enough to pay for college. They can get a loan for college, but you can't get a loan to pay the mortgage. Best-case scenario: You save cash and don't need it. When things turn around in the economy and there is less uncertainty, you can always take part of your savings and contribute it to their college account.
Do Not Contribute to 401(k)
It's all about quick access. How quickly can you get money out of your savings account? About two minutes. How quickly can you get money out of your 401(k)? Who knows? Some 401(k)s offer hardship withdrawals but yours may not offer this option. Additionally, even if your employer does, they set the rules on eligibility, and the government sets a cap on how much you can take out. Once the economy stabilizes and job security returns or once you have saved 12 months of living expenses in cash, you can easily start contributing again.
Cut Expenses with P-E-R-K: Postpone, Eliminate, Reduce, Keep
List all of your expenses individually and then add them together. Include recurring monthly expenses as well as those that occur less frequently. Next to each expense, write either P for postpone, E for eliminate, R for reduce or K for keep.
Postpone: Any expenses that you can put off for awhile. For example, a house remodel project, vacation or new car purchase.
Eliminate: Any expenses that you can completely get rid of. For example, a gym membership you never use, premium cable channels or newspapers you subscribe to but never read.
Reduce: Any expenses that you are willing to cut back on. For example, going out to lunch every day or eating at fancy restaurants.
Keep: Many fixed expenses. For example, rent, insurance and food.
Get a Loan
Create a faux emergency account by getting a loan. If you have a house and you do not have at least 12 months of living expenses in an emergency fund, first try to get a home equity line of credit. If you can, then withdraw from this home equity line at least a year's worth of expenses and deposit that money into an FDIC-guaranteed savings account. If you don't have a home or don't qualify for a home equity line of credit, look at other sources of credit.
Warning: This faux emergency fund is no substitution for living within your means and trying to save on your own. And do not even think about touching this money for anything other than rent, food or utilities. This is not an I-ran-out-of-money-but-I-really-want-to-go-to-Vegas account. It's called an emergency fund for a reason!
Try these Web sites for more help:
Food stamps: www.fns.usda.gov/FSP
Debt consolidation: www.debtadvice.org
How to Find Money Hidden in Every Home
Money guru Mary Hunt is the author of Debt Proof Living: The Complete Guide to Living Financially Free. She offers tips for saving more and spending less:
Go on a cash diet: Shop with cash only, no credit cards.
Sale only: Wait for items to go on sale and use the coupon to get the rock bottom price.
Buddy buys: Upon seeing "buy one, get one free," look closer at the purchase price. Divide that by two and that is what you are paying for each. Get a buddy and split the cost, and you'll get it for a quarter of the price.
"Portal" shop: www.ebates.com has long list of stores that participate and if you choose the store through the Ebates site, you get a percentage of your purchase back in the form of a check on a quarterly basis.
Mary's grocery shopping tips:
1. Use coupons
Go to www.couponmom.com and www.thegrocerygame.com.
E-mail directly for coupons: Many companies will send cents-off coupons directly to you by simply e-mailing them from their Web sites and requesting information on how to obtain coupons.
2. Buy only what's seasonal and on sale
3. Check the unit price
4. Stock up when you can
Cheapest food: Walmart Supercenter was the cheapest because they honor competitor's coupons.
No impulse buys: Give a friend cash and your grocery list. You'll both be much more careful with the other's money than with your own and there will be no impulse buys.
Food outlets: Find a bakery outlet. They sell the large loaves of sliced bread for three for $1.99.
Liquidate Your Stuff
Go through your home and find items to sell. Sell the more valuable stuff online or in classified ads. For the less valuable items, try consignment shops or have a big garage sale.
CDs, DVDs and games: www.secondspin.com
Clothes and other items: www.ebay.com, www.craigslist.com
Barter: www.freecycle.org, www.swapstyle.com
Negotiate with Internet, cable and phone provider for cheaper plans.
Have family fun for free: Look for free museums, free zoo days. Go on hikes and bike trails. Pitch a tent in the back yard " have a staycation! Find a new hobby " create photo albums and scrap books. Play online video games for free. Check out DVDs from the library.
How to Find a Job
Tony Beshara is a job recruiter and author of The Job Search Solution: The Ultimate System for Finding a Great Job Now. He offers tips for finding a job:
Work Temp or Part Time " Now!
You need to do what you have to do to make money now. Even if it means getting a part-time job at night, like waitressing or night shift at a convenience store, while you are using the daytime to look for a full-time job.
Take Stock of All Your Skills, Past and Present
Employers are looking for people they don't have to spend money to train. Look at all of the skills you have and apply to a job that will allow you to be valuable right now, something that you can do for an employer right now.
Change Your Résumé
You won't get a job if you use the same résumé you used to get the job you just lost or got laid off from. Take stock of all of your skills and make résumés that reflect the skills you have for the job you are applying for.
Take Massive Action
You must make massive amounts of phone calls in this economic climate when looking for a job. You need to think of every friend and relative you've ever had. Call every one of them every 30 days to see if they know of anyone needing a good employee. This is a dedicated, passionate, "do whatever it takes" approach. Tell everyone you are looking for a job. You'd be surprised how many people find jobs this way.
You must approach looking for a job not from a fear of losing, but an anticipation of gaining.
Smiling and Dialing
It will take 100 to 200 phone calls to be able to speak to about 10 hiring authorities. Out of those 10, you may get about three to four interviews. That's what massive action is if you want to get a job in this economy. Only two to five percent of jobs are found on the Internet. You have to get face to face with an employer.
Be Risk Free and Sell You
You must develop a very strong presentation and practice it. One of the biggest mistakes people make in an interview is that they don't sell themselves. Tell the employer that you are the best choice because you will make a difference in their business, or you will work harder than anyone else. Tell them how you're going to contribute to their bottom line, their profitability right now. No one really says those things anymore. That's what sells you. That will make you stand out.
Watch Your Mental State
Don't read the newspapers about the doom and gloom of the economy and stay off the Internet reading about how bad things are out there. People are buying things, and people are hiring.
For more tips from Tony, including the biggest resume mistakes, click here!
Tony offers an online course for finding a great job now. Go to www.thejobsearchsolution.com.
For more recession resources, click here!