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Financial Readiness: Preparing for BRAC (Base Realignment And Closing)

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The recommendations for military base closings have been released and the news is not good. If the recommendations are accepted, you will lose your job. So what do you do? Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

There is a benefit to this situation. Unlike many individuals who suffer the loss of employment, you have advance warning. This is an opportunity to prepare yourself and your family. Use this time to create a financial plan.

The importance of a budget can not be stressed enough. A budget is a tool that helps you track your income and expenses, giving you a snapshot of your overall financial picture. Know where your money goes. Identify areas where you can cut back. Knowing your financial obligations will be critical while planning for the loss of income.

The next piece of the planning puzzle is net worth. Your net worth is what you would have leftover if you sold all of your assets (what you own) and used them to pay off your liabilities (what you owe). This will require sitting down and making a list of those assets and liabilities. This may sound like an overwhelming project, but it is important that you know exactly where you are financially. Knowing your net worth is essential for planning for an emergency such as unemployment.

Ideally you will have a rainy fund that will cover six months of living expenses. If not, don't panic. Start putting a portion of your paycheck aside each month. Putting away a little money now will provide a financial cushion if you don't find a new job right away.

The last piece of advice is start paying down your credit card debt. Getting rid of credit card payments will help your emergency fund go farther. It will also save you money on interest, money that you can add to that fund.

You will find forms on this website to help you complete a budget and net worth analysis as well as set financial goals, such as setting up an emergency fund.

It is never easy to find out you are losing a job. But you do have an advantage over the worker who gets a pink slip on Monday and watches the factory get boarded up on Friday. You have time. Use this time to get control of your finances so that you will be prepared. And in the event that your base is spared, you will have significantly improved your financial picture.

Leslie Linfield is a national expert on adult financial literacy education and the consumer credit counseling industry. She has advised governmental, educational and non-profit organizations alike, and she has been quoted by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal as an expert on budgeting and consumer credit. She has also presented literally hundreds of seminars and lectures on personal financial management.

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