Business Digest - March, 2008

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Check out your local library    Green Living Tip

How to Survive a Recession

It seems that everywhere you turn, you hear talk of a recession. What is a recession? Well, it is defined as two or more quarters of negative GDP growth. Experts disagree whether we are already in a recession right now, but they all do agree that the U.S. economy is experiencing a slow-down.

Whether it is here now or later, your best bet to surviving an economic downturn is to plan ahead. You should plan on building up an emergency fund of three to six months of living expenses. This will help protect you if you face a job loss, which is more common during a recession. With an emergency fund, you will be able to weather a temporary loss of income without having to raid your 401k or use your credit cards.

If you have investments, you should be careful not to sell off your stocks because of a drop in stock prices. If anything, realize that you will be buying more stock for the money, due to lower prices. Diversifying your investments is a good way to ride the downturns in the market, as you will not have all your investments in the same basket. Having stocks, bonds, and cash helps insulate you from changes in the market.

If you are able, now is the time to cut back on unnecessary expenses. Can you do without that 700-channel cable package? Can you eat out one night a week less? Can you cancel some magazine subscriptions? Looking at your extra expenses may lead you to see ways to trim your budget. You can also shop around for cheaper insurance rates for your home and car, and can lower your thermostat to save on heating bills. Any extra money you can squeeze out of your budget should be used to fund your emergency fund and to pay down debt.

These simple steps will help you weather any economic storm that comes our way. You will have a safety net in the case of a job layoff and can ride out the downturn. Then, once things get back on track, you will be in an even better financial situation than before.

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Check Out Your Local Library

If you haven't been to your local library in a while, you may be missing out on a great source of information and fun. Your library isn't just books and magazines any more. You can find movies on DVD, music CDs, and audio books. In fact, some libraries carry ebooks for handheld PDAs. If you need access to a computer, most libraries offer use of them for free. You can surf the Internet, write a paper, or make airline reservations. Libraries offer free meeting space for some groups, children's programs and shows, book clubs, resources for seniors, and informational seminars. You can find tax forms and maps, and some libraries offer a toy checkout for parents of young children. If your library doesn't have what you are looking for, you can have your librarian search in other libraries around the country. The best part, of course, that it is all free! So stop by your local library and check it all out.

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Quick Tips: Green Living Tip

Even when your personal computer is in standby mode, it is using some energy. Up to 75 percent of the electricity used in your home can come from electronics that are actually turned off. To help prevent this loss of energy, plug your computer and electronics into a power strip with an on/off switch. At the end of the day, switch each strip off. This will help decrease your use of energy that you don't really need. Unplugging your cell phone, camera, and digital music player chargers once the device is fully charged can also cut down on your passive energy usage.

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