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Right Size Your Lifestyle

The poohbahs say the recession is over, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is free and clear. If you’re out of work or were pushed into early retirement, hone your spending now. Don’t kid around. Nothing is more important than bringing your lifestyle into line with your resources.

Ditch your credit cards. Sell your second car, if you have one. If you’ve been helping your kids, explain that you can’t do it anymore. A lump-sum payout from your employer should go into a bank or a money market mutual fund, to keep it safe. Use no more than 4 percent to help with bills this year (if you take too much, your savings will run out before you do). Reinvest in mutual funds only when your finances have stabilized.

Even if you weren’t harmed by the economy, revisit your spending and pay down debt. Debt-free equals worry-free, in early retirement and beyond. 

Jane Bryant Quinn is the author of "Making the Most of Your Money Now."

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