What can you do to protect your finances and your job when the economy looks grim? Two experts, Smart Money editor Stephanie AuWerter and On the Job author Stephen Viscusi, offered these tips to National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation”:
- Sock away an emergency fund, a little at a time. Put away three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a savings or a money market account, recommends AuWerter. If you lose your job, you don’t want to end up tapping your 401(k) or relying on credit cards. You’ll feel better knowing you have a cushion.
- Be valuable and visible at work. Human beings make firing decisions, so make sure others know what you bring to the table. Is there something you specialize in or do better than anyone else? Are you making sure your contributions are visible?
- Invest in yourself and your career. Spending money for additional training or to bring your skills up-to-date is a great investment, AuWerter says.
- Adjust your portfolio if you’re about to retire. Baby boomers should avoid pulling too much out of their portfolios in the first year of retirement. This is particularly true when the stock market is down. (Retirement today can last 30 to 40 years.)
- Buy a house now if you plan to be in it for at least five years. You’re better off doing that than trying to time the real estate market, which is very tricky to do, says AuWerter. You could end up sitting on the sidelines and miss a good window to get in.
- Reduce your debt. Viscusi recommends taking one or two credit cards out of your wallet. “Leave them in your dresser drawers,” he says, so you are less likely to use them.