Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unemployment and Mitigating Debt

I discussed investing in yourself during unemployment in my last post, and I believe the best way to invest in yourself is developing streams of income that will deliver without your direct attention, even after you find employment. However, even the employed folks out there can take advantage of the following proposal.

Another reason for developing this avenue is mitigating debt. During a prolonged period of unemployment or underemployment, you will accumulate debt. I am speaking from experience about unemployment. Debt will really start accumulating when the unemployment insurance payments stop. Yes, you may ween yourself down to the bare essentials. However, you still have obligations like the mortgage, your family, the car payment, and the utilities that must be maintained. Therefore, accumulating debt is most likely unavoidable. Developing a stream of income may not totally replace your lost income, but any income will mitigate your debt, i.e. you borrow less to pay for your essentials. When you do acquire employment, use the income stream to help pay off your debt.

Dave Ramsey has a great plan in his book, The Total Money Makeover. The plan includes a method called the Debt Snowball where you devote all available income to pay off debts in an ispiring way. Your alternative stream of income can help you build the snowball.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Invest in yourself while unemployed

In a past post, I advised people to invest in themselves while unemployed. This advice is even more pertinent now given the current recession that I heard officially announced on the news tonight. I've seen many layoffs in the triangle area of North Carolina over the past several months, and it will get worse over the next several months. The job market will be an employer's market because it will be saturated with unemployed job seekers. I experienced this state when I was unemployed back in 2003 to 2004.

I am building the Triangle Networking Group to assist businesses and professional during this time and have been recruiting volunteers. One unemployed professional I am recruiting stated to me today that she was just so busy trying to find employment 24/7 that she hadn't had a spare moment. I imagine people will go crazy if they spend 24/7 looking for a job because there are only so many stones to turn over, and open positions will be bombarded with a multitude of candidates. Therefore, you should create leverage for yourself that allows you to turn over stones while adding other value. Like in billiards, why not pocket two balls with one shot or make shots that align for the next shot. Spend some time to increase your value like learning, volunteering, or developing an alternative stream of income.

I mentioned in a past post that I have an alternative stream of income and offer the opportunity to others with no financial commitment on their part. I believe investing your time in this option is worth it. The period of unemployment will probably be more than expected. I was unemployed for a year during 2003 to 2004 and applied to about 600 job posts. A little extra income would help during this period and you may even make up your lost income. Furthermore, building an alternative stream of income that will deliver income without your direct effort increases your leverage. When employment is finally offered, the salary will probably be lower than expected. After all, it will be an employer's market. A stream of income that doesn't require direct effort while employed at the new job will supplement the lower salary. Furthermore, a safety net will exist for future unemployment. As I mentioned in a past post, North Carolina is an "at will" state with skewed legislation. Employers can fire employees within 90 days without reason.

However you invest in yourself, just do it. Don't focus all your efforts in increasing a potential employer's value. Your value should count, so don't devalue yourself.