Here’s some discouraging news about the direction of the economy: An economist predicts that up to 400,000 government workers could lose their jobs over the next year, because state and local governments will be laying off people en masse to close budget gaps.

According to a story in USA Today, New York City is planning 4,500 layoffs

And you thought credit card companies held all the…well, cards.

Now they’re getting battered by the recession, as some consumers get smart about credit, and others get so broke they can’t pay at all. Then there are the new rules coming down from Washington.

So credit card companies are changing the way they play (a little). Lenders are actually getting friendlier…

money-benjamin-franklin-150Whether this is your first holiday as an independent adult or the cord has long been cut, it’s only natural for parents to nag about finances when everyone’s together. Expect it. No matter your age, you’re still a child to them. But, your goal should be to show them that you’re not the same crazy kid who once blew a semester’s worth of babysitting money on trucker hats (and worse, considered it a fashion “investment”).

We’re talking about showing them financial maturity, which is comprised of three things:

  • Awareness (having a plan and knowing where your money goes)
  • Boundaries (sticking to your plan even under pressure)
  • Responsibility (not sacrificing the future for the impulse of the moment)

Within that framework, here are six holiday dos and don’ts to help you be financially mature and demonstrate your status as a blooming money maven:…

money-tape measure 150With unemployment in the double digits and the holiday season kicking into high gear, saving money has never been more important—or simpler. And these days, sometimes the easiest way to save money is to simply ask. Really. Here are some tricks that we are thankful for, this holiday season:..

Christmas Gifts 3The chestnuts will still roast; Santa Claus will be just as jolly as ever—but there’s little doubt that the holiday season is different this year. From smaller Christmas trees and fewer extravagant gifts, to an increase emphasis on homemade foods and decorations, millions of families across the country are cutting back on expenses without sacrificing the holiday spirit this year.

It’s too soon to tell whether these back-to-basics holiday rituals will turn into lasting traditions or whether they’re just passing trends that’ll be gone as soon as the economy heats up again. In the meantime, we’ve put together a roundup of what’s different this holiday season.

stray dogHaving a pet is a fine balance: We love our pooches, but we know that pet hair isn’t a fashion accessory. They burrow in our purses, poke out of our car windows, and try to lick our face masks away. We’ve compiled the best insider tips to help you scratch away at your pet’s expenses—you and Junior won’t remember how you coexisted without us!

Look For Veterinary Colleges. Money isn’t a reason not to bring your pet in for regular checkups, but vet visits are expensive. Do a quick Google search or refer to this list to see if there are any veterinary colleges in your area. If so, they are probably looking for new patients and likely offered reduced rates. Don’t worry about putting Mr. Fuzzy in the hands of students—they are supervised and accredited for treating animals!…

notepad-tip-suggestion-150If there’s one thing we learned from this recession, it’s that economies tend to be cyclical. Stock markets crash and rebound, unemployment rates go up and down, and real estate prices can decrease just as quickly as they increased during the boom years. Unfortunately, there’s very little we can do about it, and an economic downturn is likely to happen again.

With an ounce of prevention, though, there are some things we can all do to put ourselves in a better position the next time around. After all, sudden job losses might not have been so crushing had we all had enough money in savings to carry us through the downturn. And spiking credit card rates might not be quite as big of a deal right now if we hadn’t been carrying such a large debt load prior to the recession’s beginning last fall. If only.

No matter what mistakes we made this time around, it’s never too early to start planning for the next economic crunch. Consider this your emergency survival guide to a solid financial future, no matter what’s happening on Wall Street…

graduation-sign-150Tuition costs are rising and financial aid funds are scarce, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and watch your college dreams go up in smoke.

Since the recession began last year, thousands of tips and tricks have been published listing ways to make college more affordable. From small shifts (like buying used textbooks rather than new) to big changes (like moving off campus to save on housing), there’s no doubt that the thousands of published ideas could save students money. But whether many—or any—of these ideas are actually feasible for the average student is another story entirely…

keyMichael M., owner of a small electronics import business in northern New Jersey, has seen his profits drop as end users of technology products continue to pinch pennies and stores buy less from him to avoid over-stocking.

Michael now realizes that he needs to re-think spending on his large warehouse and office space and focus energy on marketing his services and products in a way that encourages both his direct clients and end users to spend. So, he has started to re-fashion his business to eliminate his need for warehouse and even office space, let him work from home and gets electronics directly to stores from manufacturers…

man-comment-150According to Forrester Research, marketing budgets shrank 20% or more in the last year. Chances are, yours probably has, too. So, if you can’t spend the big bucks anymore, you might want to consider reaching potential clients through a much less expensive method: the online message board.

A message board is an online discussion area modeled after a traditional bulletin board, where like-minded users can join to talk about common issues and relay their own expertise on a variety of subjects. These forums can be found just about everywhere, and can provide fantastic public, free-of-charge marketing opportunities for business owners in a variety of industries…