As a result of the current economic situation, millions of Americans are out of work and/or struggling to make ends meet. Featured below is some advice on what you can do to help you and your loved ones get by.

Emergency Funds Should Be For Emergencies Only
Most Americans do not have any sort of funds saved that are specifically allocated for emergency use. If you don't have any emergency funds, try and start saving some. You should attempt to put aside enough money to cover the cost of 3-6 months of living expenses. This money should only be touched during times of emergency, i.e. you lost your job, you got hurt and can not work, etc.. If you do have to spend any of your emergency reserves, look to replenish it as soon you can.

Do No Apply For Any Type of New Credit or Loans
Currently, banks have tightened their belt in regards to what credit types they are lending to and how much money they are lending. Anyone that does not have excellent credit is probably going to get denied for any type of loan or credit they apply for (unless you have a co-signer with excellent credit). And even if you are lucky enough to achieve an approval, the interest rates associated with your loan are likely going to higher. But, don't even bother applying for loans and credit when you know approval is not likely. Submitting applications for credit is going to negatively impact your credit score, making it more difficult to get approved in the future. Bottom line, avoid applying for any loans and credit during this economic crisis.

Keep Credit Card Balances Low
Credit limits have been slashed by card issuers over the past year. It is likely that if it has not already happened, you limit is going to be cut very close to your current balance. This puts you at risk for going over your limit and incurring fees, higher interest rates and a damaged credit score.

A good idea would be to check your balance and your credit limit before using your credit card. Doing so will ensure that you don't unnecessarily exceed your credit limit.

The best thing you can do is maintain a zero balance. This will all but guarantee that you don't have to deal with any of the negative effects of a decreased credit limit. Get more info about using credit cards wisely.

Be Alert of Increased Interest
Credit card companies make their money from the interest rates they charge. Most credit card agreements have a 'universal default' clause. This clause allows your creditor to increase your interest rates whenever they want, without reason.

You will receive a letter from your credit card issuer if they have decided to increase your rate. In this letter, you will be provided with the option of opting-out of the higher rate. If you decide to opt-out, you will need pay off your total credit balance (at the old rate). It is important to note that once you opt-out and pay the balance, your account is going to be closed and you will not be able to use the credit card anymore.

Always Live Within Your Means
This rule should be followed regardless if you are experiencing an economic crisis or not. A good idea would be to establish a budget. A good budget will help you with your spending. Avoid making any unnecessary purchases so that you don't have to spend any of your savings or incur debt when having to pay ordinary living expenses and bills.

Related Reading:
Dealing with a Slow Economy
Keeping Your Job
401k Investing When the Market is Bad
How to Save Money
Prioritizing Spending

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