by Kelly Jo Landers
I had an e-mail from someone that preferred to stay anonymous, this week. She wanted to know why in some of my columns I sounded so much like the story of Chicken Little. She said, and I quote, " You sounded very much like you were claiming the sky was falling. I don't think we should panic. Maybe the economy will be a little less prosperous, but for most of us we won't see a huge change."
Let's think about this for a minute. Most of us are okay right now. But, how many people live one paycheck away from a problem? The number is certainly higher than any of us can estimate. On average, American families have less than $2,000 in savings. Consider your living expenses. How quickly would $2,000 disappear if you lost your job tomorrow, assuming you have that amount saved?
And, if you watch the news, you have observed people receiving the bad news all around us. What fraction of these formerly employed people are ready for the loss of one paycheck, or two? More importantly, dear readers, would you be ready?
You shouldn't panic about the economy, but please, do prepare. Whether you are in a secure job or not, all of us are one injury away from the loss of a paycheck. Companies do go out of business, move, merge with other companies; people do get injured on the job, in car accidents, fall ill with diseases. Can you assume you won't be the one any of these events will happen to? Of course not!
I challenge each of you to take the 60% test. If you suffer an injury on the job tomorrow, you will need to wait two to four weeks to receive a disability check. That check will only be 60% of what you were making before the injury. Could you make it?
Would the increased cost of gasoline or natural gas make it difficult to pay your rent or mortgage payment? Eating out and a social life aside, could you take care of your most basic needs? Would the car payment be hard to make? What kind of money would you have for groceries? You have to think about these things before they happen. If you wait until they happen you won't be ready.
I'm not trying to be a Chicken Little. I just want you to be realistic and understand that you have to take care of you. Pushing the envelope only works for fighter pilots, not for your family's budget. If you traditionally spend every penny you make, or more by using credit, you have some changes to make.
The theme is that Tightwaddery equals Freedom and Freedom equals Joy. Presented by Kelly Jo Landers.
Take the Next Step
- Are you getting the best CD rate? Use our simple CD tool to find out. It's completely private, easy to use and you'll know what rate is available to you in seconds!
- Get the interest you deserve! Compare money market rates with our best rate finder. It only takes a minute and your privacy is completely protected.
Debt from my past is preventing me from saving for my future! Tell us: Yes, debt is hindering my ability to save and I could use help dealing with it! or No, debt is not a problem but I am trying to get ahead financially!
More Money Tips & Tools
- 5 low-risk ways to earn higher interest now
- 10 easy ways to save money for the holidays
- 7 IRA withdrawals that don't trigger a penalty
- 4 secrets to maximize your credit card rewards
- How small changes to your finances could make a big difference
- Learning from our financial mistakes
- 5 ways to make finances easier
- This week's Readers' Tips