Q.When I got laid off six months ago I thought I'd be able to get by using my severance pay and not entirely deplete our savings. But as weeks go by, I see we are digging deeper and deeper into those accounts and if something doesn't happen soon we won't have anything left for our retirement. Are there some things I can do to cut costs until I find work again? I'm working hard at doing that and am optimistic. But in the meantime, the money is flowing out.
Ans. Ordinarily, you would expect to wait one month of unemployment for every $10,000 in salary you must replace, says Marcia Heroux Pounds, author of I Found A Job! But these are unusual times, and in this economy it's smart to figure at least twice that time. She also advises that if you haven't filed for unemployment benefits do so because there's a waiting time before your claim is approved. Most let you do that online. If you're struggling to make payments to creditors, contact them and try to renegotiate a discount. Many would rather have something than nothing. Meanwhile, sit down for a family meeting and get everyone working to cut extra expenses. Consider dropping cable landline and Internet. Use your cell phones and free Internet service at the library. Exercise will help you keep that excellent positive outlook, says Pounds.