Tough Times, Tough Choices

In a hardeconomic climate,what are youwilling to doto work?

Janice, an experienced human resources consultant, used all of her recruiting know-how to help her husband land a new gig. They sent out 100 résumés, called industry contacts, and conducted extensive searches on Websites, but their attempts were unsuccessful. “As my options started thinning out,” Thomas says, “it was Tulsa, Oklahoma, or unemployment.”

Now, just months after the move, Thomas and his wife are counting their blessings. Several of Thomas’ colleagues who didn’t relocate with the company — people with Ph.Ds and patents — are still unemployed, and his employer isn’t interested in talking to them anymore. And with Tulsa’s lower cost of living, Thomas’ salary (engineers with similar experience typically make $90,000 or more) is enough to cover the family’s expenses.

“You have to go where the jobs are,” says Thompson of Rudolph Dew. He says the employment picture is slightly brighter in the Midwest and Northwest because they traditionally have trouble attracting professionals who are typically drawn to major metropolitan areas.

The Thomases move has meant leaving behind family; but a positive change is that Janice can now stay home and raise the couple’s two children, Evan, 6, and Leah, 14 months. Says Thomas: “A lot of what we were praying for has been answered in this transition. If I had stayed in New Jersey, I’d probably still be unemployed

Maintaining Your Finances
Even if you’ve been out of work awhile, tapping your retirement money should be the last resort. You should make that decision only after money from emergency accounts, mutual funds, securities, and IRAs has been used up, says Alfred G. Osbourne, a senior financial advisor at American Express Financial Advisors in East Meadow, New York.

Furthermore, people who know they will be laid off or have significant downtime should consider some interim financial moves — before the ax falls. Securing a home-equity loan or gaining extra cash through a mortgage refinancing, especially in this low-interest rate environment, may be options. “It may be difficult to get [one] once you have no job,” Osbourne says.

Many financial planning industry groups offer pro bono advice. Chapters of the Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.com), including those in New York (www.fpany.com) and San Francisco (www.fpasf.com), and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org) are among them.

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