How to Handle Financial Hard Times and Be Proactive

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    • 1). Avoid focusing on news about the economy, particularly if it's negative. Even positive news can be depressing to someone if their family is going through financial difficulties. Instead, focus on your own affairs. This alone will lighten the burden, since the problem won't seem so overwhelming.

    • 2). Evaluate your employment situation. Try to determine if the company that you work for (or own) is in a position of financial strength. Layoffs are not necessarily an indicator that a company is financially weak, but it does show that the management is looking to keep only the most efficient employees. Think about your salary and whether you believe you qualify for a raise from your current employer--or somewhere else.

    • 3). Send out job applications to other companies even if you're not interested in switching careers. Any job offers you may receive will at least boost your confidence, and give you a better idea of what your services may be worth in the broader marketplace. You can even use the offers to potentially negotiate a raise at your current job.

    • 4). Cut spending as much as possible and make additional payments on high-interest debts. This will eventually free up more funds to save or to pay for more education or added expenses for children or other dependents.

    • 5). Build an emergency fund to be used if sudden unemployment or disaster hits. Keep at least enough money saved to fund 2-8 months of unemployment. Maintain this fund in a high-yielding savings account or certificates of deposit to ensure the value won't decline during market fluctuations.

    • 6). Invest in education, self-education and training that will increase your employment potential. In many cases, employers are willing to cover the costs of employee education related to job performance. Some particularly forward-thinking employers may also compensate for book purchases and other educational materials.

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