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Cope with income loss by evaluating situation
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Online tools from the Mississippi State University Extension Service can help those facing reduced income gain regain financial control.
Prompt action is the most important step in achieving control.
“When income is reduced or lost, many families don’t adjust their lifestyles for six months,” said MSU Extension family resource management specialist Bobbie Shaffett. “The best chance to land safely on the other side of a financial emergency is to take control of resources as quickly as possible.”
Shaffett and other Extension consumer educators created a web page filled with resources on financial recovery and good financial health. The site, MSUcares.com provides information to improve users’ economic well being.
The series titled “When Your Income Drops” can be particularly helpful in dealing with a financial crisis. The publications and information sheets under this topic are free and can be accessed with one click of the computer mouse.
People who have lost income because of a layoff, health condition or sudden disaster may feel alone, but they are not.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most people between the ages of 18 and 40 work at least 10 different jobs and experience unemployment about five times. And at any one time, 2 million to 5 million people are out of work. These figures do not include individuals who work part-time or earn less than their potential.
Sudden loss of income often cuts across socioeconomic lines, and no one is immune from such misfortune. Help can allow a person to survive a financial storm.
“Many community organizations offer assistance and support that can make a big difference,” Shaffett said.
A positive outlook tends to attract others and make them want to help, she said. It also can lead to opportunities that make a difference.
“Loss of income can have significant and far-reaching effects on the physical and mental health of families and can damage their sense of security,” said Liz Sadler, area Extension agent based in Purvis. “If families are already economically vulnerable or attempting to recover from one event, a sudden loss of income can have an even greater impact.”
Regaining financial footing is a long and trying process, but it can be done with work, sacrifice and planning. It is important to maintain a positive attitude despite the challenges of rebuilding what has been lost.
Stay positive by learning how to take stock of finances, examine resources, account for expenses and assets, network with others and access net financial worth. The Extension web page has information to allow those struggling financially to learn these techniques.
“Don’t waste time and energy blaming yourself or the circumstances you are in,” Shaffett said. “Take control by doing the best you can with the resources available.”
Gaining sound financial knowledge can have a lasting impact.
“A crisis may be the opportunity to start down a new and more interesting path,” Sadler said.