Ideas for putting furlough days to work
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Stacey Vanek-Smith: If you have any furlough days in your future, you’re not alone. In June, more than 6.5 million U.S. workers said they’d either been furloughed or had their hours reduced. Furlough days mean employers can cut costs without cutting workers. It can be very hard on the finances, but it does also mean more free time.
So here at Marketplace Money, we thought: Make some lemonade out of those lemons and figure out something you could do with that extra time, that would help your money situation.
First up, I called Jordan Goodman, author of “Everyone’s Money Book,” and asked him, if people have one day, what’s a project they can do to get their financial house in order?
Jordan Goodman: Well one project they can do would be to keep track of their debts. A lot of people owe a lot of money and don’t really know how much they owe, to whom, what the interest rates are, the payment periods and so on. So a very simple thing is to set up a spreadsheet, where you put how much you owe, how much is paid down, what the interest rate is — so that you can know exactly what’s happening with your debts at all times. And then once you set it up for that one day then keep it up to date, so you really have a good sense of what’s happening with your debt.
Vanek-Smith: What are some other things that someone could do in a day?
Goodman: Another project you can do is to keep track of your insurance coverages. A lot of people are either underinsured or overinsured. Again, write down on a spreadsheet how much you’ve got, how much you’re contributing to it in premiums, what your deductible is. In many cases, if you just took one day to evaluate all your insurances, you would find that you could raise your deductibles, lower your premiums dramatically and make sure you have the right coverage.
Vanek-Smith: Alright. So first 24 hours are up and debts and insurance coverage squared away. Now for the next 24 hours. Let’s go longer-term, like investments for retirement and sending kids to college. For that I talked to Stuart Ritter, a financial planner at T. Rowe Price. Hi Stuart.
Stuart Ritter: Stacey hi.
Vanek-Smith: Someone has an extra day or two a month, what can they do to help their investments?
Ritter: One of the best things they can do is finally write down exactly what it is that they are saving for. Knowing specifically what your financial goals are, naming then, writing down how much money you need to achieve them and most importantly, when you want to achieve them. Really makes concrete what this nebulous “savings activity” may have been about in the past.
Vanek-Smith: What are some other investment tips that can be tackled in a day or two?
Ritter: Start shopping around for some of the other things in your financial life. For example, you can look for a money market that has a higher rate of interest than what you’re earning right now or a bank account that has lower fees or lower ATM charges. These kinds of things can help the expense side of your household balance sheet and start bringing your costs down and that simultaneously gives you more money available to either spend or save on something else.
Vanek-Smith: A spare day is about what you need to get that resume spruced up. Not a bad idea, given this economy. For this, I called John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas. One day, job insecurity, what to do?
John Challenger: Tune up your resume. A lot of times resumes are just filled with kind of the basic information and yet employers want concrete accomplishments that they can relate into their environment. It might be that you upgraded the payroll system, it might be that you designed an e-brochure for a company.
Vanek-Smith: And once you have you resume finished, you haev to get it out there.
Challenger: Make sure that you put your professional profile, basically, a resume in digital up there: Facebook, LinkedIn and others. Today the social networks provide a great and simple way to tie into your network. So many recruiters and staffing people from companies today look through the social networks for candidates. Just get it done, because some company might find you that way.
Vanek-Smith: For more tips on what to do with your furlough day, visit our Web site. Chris Farrell weighs in and we have more tips from our three experts.
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