It's Your Money: Laid-off Rules - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

It's Your Money: Laid-off Rules

MADISON (WKOW)--In past economic downturns, it might've been enough to cut down on eating out and unlimited texting.  In 2009, the rule is cut back on everything.

"If it doesn't keep a roof over your head, if it doesn't feed you or keep you insured, you can probably cut back on it," says Janet Siroto of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

Two easy cuts: Replace your home phone with your cell phone, and drop your cable package.

Websites like stream thousands of TV shows and movies for free.

"You really need go into almost a financial hibernation to stretch your money out for as long as it will possibly last," says financial planner Dylan Ross.

Today's rules say save your cash.  Get a 0% interest card and use it responsibly.

"So finding a credit card with 0% interest for as long a period as possible will help you should an emergency happen, a pipe bursts in your basement, or even if you're having a hard time just week to week," says Siroto.

You can find low-interest cards on  But Good Housekeeping says keep track of when the introductory rate runs out, because after that, you'll be stuck paying interest on everything you buy.

If you need money now, retirement accounts should be your absolute last resort.  But if you must do it, tap your Roth IRA first.

If you've been laid off, sign up for COBRA instead of shopping around for cheap insurance right now.

Thanks to the February stimulus passage, you only have to pay 35% of the full cost and the government will pick up the rest of the $1000+ monthly payment.

To qualify, you must have been laid off between September 1, 2008 and the end of 2009.

The government will only pay for COBRA for nine months; so if you're still unemployed, look for cheaper health insurance.


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