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Everyday Cheapskate: You should give yourself a promotion

Worried about layoffs? You’re not alone. About 6-in-10 Americans worry that they will lose their jobs because of the current state of the economy, according a recent Pew Research poll.

Losing a job can be a terrible blow especially if you were already living paycheck to paycheck. But if that loss comes without warning, the emotional toll on top of the financial loss can be devastating.

No matter your situation — whether you have suffered a recent layoff, are worried that you might, or believe there isn’t the slightest possibility that you could find yourself unemployed — don’t set yourself up to become a passive victim by default.

Become the CEO. Promote yourself to Chief Executive Officer of your life. Develop strength and confidence in your ability to take control of your life. That means have contingency plans in place. What will you do if you are laid off next Friday?

Six months notice. If you found out that you will lose your job in six months from today, what would you do? That’s the question I asked a group of people recently. While the answers ranged all the way from “Panic!” to “Celebrate because I hate my job anyway,” overall there was a sense of calm. Most respondents said six months would be more than enough time to figure out the solution and find another job.

That’s a nice thought, but in reality a six-month notice of termination is highly unlikely. Most job layoffs come with little advance notice, if any.

In your new role as the CEO of your life, you can intervene and make sure that, regardless of what happens at work, you have a built-in, self-granted, guaranteed, six-month, fully paid period of time to figure out the solution and find another job.

Establish a cash cushion. You need a pool of money that will keep you afloat in the event you and your income part company. You need enough money in the account to pay the bills and keep food on the table for at least three months in the event of a severe financial challenge. Losing your job qualifies as a severe financial challenge.

Consume less. Many of those who responded to the six-month question said that if they knew they would be unemployed in six months, they would start slashing expenses like crazy in anticipation of a dry spell. Curbing spending and paying down debt is good advice for anyone. Start living as though you are in a dry spell now.

Shield yourself. It’s a rare occurrence that everyone in the company gets a pink slip. Develop yourself into one of the employees the company cannot afford to lose. Learn to do more than one job. “Border-crossers” are more valuable to a company than those workers who are single-task oriented. Seek out trouble. If the big bosses count on you, you’ll increase your value. Stop watching the clock. Do more than is expected. Make self-discipline and reliability your outstanding qualities. Accept extra work without being asked.

Make sure you are an employee the boss doesn’t have to babysit and you’ll become that rare person the company cannot afford to lose.

Mary Hunt is founder of

You can email her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.

To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


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