LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas, like many other parts of the country, has seen its share of downsizing.
A job loss can be traumatic for the worker and his or her family, but there are a few actions to take to cope, said Laura Connerly, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Companies often provide resources immediately after the layoff, but the greatest financial struggles seem to hit a few months down the road,” she said. “Those are the times you have to be most prepared for.”
Here are three steps to help consumers respond to income loss:
• Reorganize and prioritize expenses. “Make a written list of all expenses, and even if you think you have a good idea of your monthly outgo, making a written list will reveal places you can cut costs,” Connerly said. “Fixed expenses, such as car payments, don’t give you any wiggle room.” She advises focusing efforts on flexible spending categories such as food and entertainment. “Look for ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary spending,” she said. Find tips for reorganizing your budget in the Extension fact sheet “Living Resourcefully with Reduced Income.”
• Compare payment options. Explore different ways to pay credit card debt. Use the online calculator at www.powerpay.org to find the best strategy for you. “Contact the creditor anytime you are unable to make a payment,” Connerly said. “Companies may offer lower payment options if they know you are really in a bind. As much as possible, be careful not to take on any more debt during this financially vulnerable time.”
• Manage stress. “Job loss can be stressful,” she said. “You may not be making your best financial decisions when you’re overwhelmed by stress. It’s difficult to think clearly when feeling stressed out. Take time to do the things that are necessary to lower your stress level. Follow healthy diet, exercise and sleep habits. Enjoy the support of family and friends. Seek outside resources when needed. To learn more, order or download a free copy of the Extension workbook — “Managing Stress: Turning Challenges into Blessings.”
The Cooperative Extension Service offers free publications for consumers who are responding to income loss. “Living Resourcefully with Reduced Income” and “Managing Stress” are available from your county extension office or download from our website at www.uaex.edu
Living Resourcefully - http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/fsfcs132.pdf
Managing Stress - http://www.arfamilies.org/family_life/stress/managing_stress.pdf
For more information about managing your finances visit www.arfamilies.org/money.htm or contact a county extension agent.