HEAVY THRIFTING

I've been laid off; now I'll try to save money

 

bsimms@miamiherald.com

Back in March my month-long Heavy Thrifting blog chronicled my attempts to rein in my spending habits by at least 10 percent. Now, three months later, I'm again reaching for the budget ax.

But this time, there will be a couple of big differences.

First, I'll have professional financial planner Elaine King by my side analyzing every aspect of my fiscal universe and advising me on the best course of action to help achieve my long-term goals.

Second, and more importantly: I've been laid off from my copy editing job at The Miami Herald.

The McClatchy Co., parent of the Miami Herald Media Co., announced last Monday that it was paring down its workforce by 10 percent. The Herald, in particular, has been tasked with eliminating 250 full-time positions, or about 17 percent of its total workforce. I'm among those workers whose jobs will disappear.

Having edited on a freelance basis for The Miami Herald since June 2004, this February I was hired full-time for a department that produces the paper's international edition. If I remained a freelancer, I could lose my job at any moment, I was told. Five months later, however, my job has been outsourced to India. My friends who remained freelancers seem to be more secure than ever in their positions.

Considering the recent spate of industry layoffs in South Florida, my forced buyout means I may need to relocate to find journalism work -- although I'm sure that's something I'll need to discuss with my financial planner. I could very well find myself living in New York City, or even Abu Dhabi where three of my journalist associates have moved in the past six months.

Unfortunately, the job-elimination trend extends far beyond The Miami Herald. J.P. Morgan Chase, Ford, Delta, Citigroup -- all have cut hundreds or even thousands of jobs this year. But newspapers have it particularly bad. The Paper Cuts blog at graphic designr.net/papercuts reports industry-wide layoffs of more than 4,400 this year alone.

Like thousands upon thousands of Americans, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of being suddenly out of work in a sagging, unwelcoming economy. I'd say it's a pretty good time to get my finances in order.

I'd even go so far as to say it's probably a pretty good time for you to get your finances in order, too. Unless, of course, you're more fiscally responsible than this 26-year-old, three-years-out-of-college journalist.

Stay vigilant, because the Good Ship Lollipop has hit some rough seas. In this dreary economic climate you never know when or where lightning will strike. And if you have any sympathy at all, you will forgive my use of overly dramatic weather metaphors; of late, the general atmosphere in the newsroom has been stormy.

With the economy hanging at such an uncertain tilt, and my job security suddenly thrown on its head, it's really a matter of survival for me to get on top of my personal finances.

Keep me company as I shore up my financial house and look for a new job.

I'll be blogging in the No-Spend Zone, starting Monday. Follow my progress at MiamiHerald.typepad.com/no_spend_zone/.

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