3 Ways to Bounce Back From Money Trouble
Bounce-back situation # 1: Youve Been Fired
The day you get the news, put yourself on an austerity budget, says money expert Jean Chatzky, author of Money 911. Make a list of the extras you can cut (read our lips: no new handbags!) and the essentials you cant (your rent or mortgage).
Stick to this plan until you start seeing income again. Money spent on getting out and networking is well spent. Money used to numb the pain of unemployment? Not so much.
Bounce-back situation # 2: You owe big-time on your credit cards
For each card, figure out exactly how much you owe and the respective interest rate. Then, put any extra money you have toward the one that has the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum on the rest, Chatzky says. When that credit card is paid off in its entirety, move on to the card with the second highest rate, and so forth.
And, whatever you do, be sure you make all your payments on time. If youre in way over your head (as in, your minimum payments each month total more than 20% of your take-home pay), seek debt counseling, says Farnoosh Torabi, author of You're So Money. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC.org) can set you up with a counselor to help you negotiate with creditors and come up with a budget.
Bounce-back situation # 3: Your investments have tanked
Do not—repeat, do not—rush to sell. Although the markets havent returned to their pre-recession highs, they had an incredible year in 2009, Chatzky says. So while things continue to improve, rebalance your portfolio to make sure you have the right amount of stocks, bonds, and cash for your age and risk tolerance.
Hint: Subtract your age from 100—thats the percentage of your portfolio you want in stocks, Chatzky adds. If you're not sure what to do with the rest, talk to a financial planner. Then continue to buy during the down times; these are the investments that will pay off in the future.