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Surviving financial down times easier with a plan

Living on a drastically lowered budget is never easy and if you're one of the many Americans who has been affected by the economic downturn, you know this firsthand. Although the adjustment is never easy, incorporating the five tips below into your daily habits will allow you to save money and help you through this challenging financial time.

Spend your severance wisely.

It can be tempting to use any severance pay you receive to keep your current lifestyle exactly the way it is. Unfortunately, when you're unemployed your future income isn't as secure as it once was, so it is important to immediately start saving much more. You must streamline your expenses by focusing on the most necessary bills — mortgage, food and electric. Take a look at your monthly budget immediately and cancel any expenses that are not absolutely necessary, like cable TV or a gym membership.

Understand your unemployment benefits.

Each state has different rules for unemployment compensation, including how much you are entitled to receive and when you receive it. If you are working sporadically, make sure you understand how to report this income and how it will affect your payments. Your state may have more than one procedure for filing, and the one you choose may affect your future eligibility or amount of compensation. Speak to a representative or counselor from your state's unemployment agency and make sure you understand all the rules. Most states also have programs to give you free computer access, job placement and more. Remember to find out all benefits and services that are available to you!

Don't let your debts fall by the wayside.

Those credit card bills are not going away just because you are unable to make your minimum monthly payments. Before you fall behind in your payments and rack up late fees, consider seeking outside help to manage your debts from an organization like CareOne Services. You will be able to reduce your interest rates and negotiate a lower monthly payment so you can continue working to become debt free, even when you have less money in your bank account.

Get your resume in shape.

Resume writing is always a challenge. Should you use a chronological layout, a "functional" layout, or a combination? How do you make sure someone will be able to open your resume once it's emailed, and how should you list contact information? Luckily, has all this information and more. With sample resumes, how-tos, and Q & As, you'll learn everything you need to know about resume writing. If you need to refresh your computer skills, they also offer free online courses in Microsoft programs as well as Internet basics.

Start hunting.

Make looking for a job "your job," and spend time online each day searching for work. Check daily listings on sites such as and, and check out my other articles on for additional job hunting and savings advice.

Clarky Davis is a debt management expert and spokesperson for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Her expertise is founded on her own personal experience in racking up debt and learning to live within her means while paying it down and saving — and this meant leaving the bars and $15 martinis behind and finding ways to have fun, without breaking the bank. Go for more advice from Clarky Davis.

Surviving financial down times easier with a plan 01/15/12 [Last modified: Sunday, January 15, 2012 3:30am]
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