Mark Johannessen: Hi! I'm Mark Johannessen and I'm a financial planner and a member of the Financial Planning Association. I'm here to discuss job loss. Right now, I'm going to talk about creating a spending plan. A basic aspect of sound financial planning is knowing what your income and expenses are and balancing the two. List realistic sources of income for the coming months; those sources might include severance pay, unemployment benefits which are taxable, funds from savings such as a cash emergency account, a working spouse's income, temporary or part-time work, selling a collection or other items you no longer need. Rent a room in your house or take in a roommate or move in with friends or relatives and rent out or sublet your apartment if your lease allows. Mortgage unemployment insurance; if you have it, it might cover your house payments for several months. Credit card insurance, if you have it, it might cover your credit card payments while you're out of work. If you have a Universal Life or other cash value policy, you might be able to withdraw some of the cash value or take a loan against it. Tell any family members who depend on you financially how the job loss will affect family spending. This can help ease anxiety they may have. You may find debts accumulating faster than you can pay them off, particularly if you're out of work for an extended period of time. Here are some steps to help alleviate that burden. Try to further reduce expenses; don't accumulate any additional debt if possible. Minimize or avoid using credit cards. Contact creditors to see if you can reduce or defer payments briefly. Consolidate debts carefully. Consider tapping the equity in your home to pay off credit cards and cars. However, you're putting your home at risk if you can't pay back the loan. Avoid filing bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy should be viewed as a last resort. Beyond the emotional issues of filing, it will stain your credit for years to come. Exhaust all other alternatives first. Remember, losing a job is often traumatic, but it doesn't have to be a financial disaster. For a variety of reasons; job terminations, layoffs, downsizing, mergers or re-engineering, spells of unemployment are realistic occurrences for many people. Take actions to make your transition more manageable and less stressful for you and your family.