This mom's tips for weathering tough times

This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Originally posted on Yahoo Shine 

by Vivian Steir Rabin

I recently read comparisons between the current economic crisis and the tough times in 2000-2001. I couldn't help but think back to those years and the downturn we were feeling here in the Rabin household.
Although not a technology or financial services company, my husband's
employer at the time was closing its New Jersey office in a
cost-cutting move and issued him the following ultimatum: either relocate to San Diego or else.
With five children happily ensconced in local schools, and concerned
about his employer's long term viability, we jointly agreed to opt for
the "or else" clause. And so began my husband's mad scramble to return to the practice of medicine, after four years in the pharmaceutical industry. And, more germane to this blog, so began my quest to return to the workforce.

But first, we went into cost-cutting and emergency cash build-up mode. And, based on my own experience, here's my advice on these fronts:

If you haven't already, open a home equity line of credit while you and/or your spouse is still working. Ditto for backup lines of credit on all your checking accounts. Although you don't necessarily want to rack up more debt, having that cushion of available cash is better than bouncing checks.

Take a look at your budget and try to cut everything by 10 percent. Turn down your heat in the winter, and turn up the themostat in the summer. Plan your errands and drive the speed limit to use less gas. Ditch meat and eat more chicken. Get creative with your leftovers. For
a date with your husband or significant other, forget the fancy
restaurant in the city and enjoy a simple meal at a BYOB joint nearby. Call your phone/cable/internet company and make sure you've got the most cost effective plan for you.

And here's a big one: raise the deductibles on all your insurances. Most of us don't report low-level damage to home and car anyway, because it just drives up our rates. So why pay for coverage you're not likely to use? If you own a disability policy, increase the period before benefits kick in.
Yes, if there's a tragedy you'll have to wait six months longer before
you can collect, but that kind of policy change can result in
significant savings.

If you use credit cards, pay them off in full every
month to avoid high interest charges, but delay purchases until right
after the billing cycle closes,
so you effectively get an interest free loan for as long as possible.

Those are my personal favorites, every one of which we've enacted in the Rabin household when times are tough. Now, to the top line:

Sign up with staffing firms for temporary and part-time assignments.
There are firms brokering temporary and part-time positions in
virtually every field now, not just administrative assistant type
positions. Aquent in marketing, Robert Half and Accountemps in Finance and Accounting, and MomCorps
in a range of business areas, as well as a whole host of firms placing
nurses, other healthcare professionals, paralegals, lawyers and others
in temporary or part-time roles.

Target smaller, fast-growing companies, rather than large household names. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that big companies will have more opportunities. That's not necessarily true, especially in hard times, when large companies may well be in cost cutting mode. Smaller fast-growing companies, on the other hand, often hire throughout a downturn. Look for Inc. 500 companies and other firms on a growth trajectory in your area.

If your industry is contracting, focus on how to bring your functional skills to industries that are hiring. If you're a finance whiz, for example, don't restrict yourself to looking on Wall Street. The healthcare, energy, accounting, conservation, biotech, security and certain tech sectors remain reasonably healthy. And all companies need people with finance skills.

Even if you don't earn a lot of money, remember that
every dollar earned is one less dollar that you have to pull out of
your nest egg.
For me, working also banished the feeling of helplessness I experienced initially during my husband's transition.
Instead of wringing my hands and fixating on how to squeeze more out of
the dime, I reveled in the knowledge that I was actually bringing in
some dough myself.

Consider an entrepreneurial venture. I'm not talking about something that requires a business plan and funding. Become your community's eBay seller. Take in your neighbors' kids for after school play care. Turn your scrapbooking or passion for knitting into a crafts business.

quick results on both the cost cutting and income generation fronts,
focus on small practical steps that can yield immediate savings and

Photo Credit:

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin are the co-authors of the acclaimed career reentry book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work , and the co-founders of iRelaunch
, a company providing career reentry programming, events, and
information to employers, universities, organizations and to mid-career
professionals in all stages of career break.

For more information on Relaunching, see iRelaunch and check out Back on the Career Track. Carol and Vivian can be reached at

Attention Washington, D.C. area residents: Attend the Career Relaunch Forum, an all day return to work conference on November 12, 2008 at George Washington University's Marvin Center.

Vivian Steir Rabin Carol Fishman Cohen


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