Remember the old days, when conventional wisdom said put away 6 months of expenses for a rainy day? Yeah, I know, it seems so quaint now. I know people who have been out of work longer than six months. Much longer. Like the 6 month mark flew by so fast their heads are spinning. Here's the new conventional wisdom for those who are temporarily in job transition:
1. Save. Don't stop at 5% of your salary, save as much as you can. I'm not saying you should live as a miser or a hermit in a cave, although that's not the worst idea in the world. Don't listen to the economists tell you that you must spend to get the economy moving again. Screw the economy, it screwed you. Get your financial house in order. Don't listen to the commercials tell you "It's time to move about the country." It's time to look after you and your family. Don't try to put 6 months of expenses away, shoot for 6 years.
2. Learn to invest your savings in investments that you feel comfortable with. Not savings, investments. Why? Because banks are giving you 1-2% return on your savings account while making 10 to 20 times that on your money. My investment of choice is the stock market. But that's me. You choose whatever you want, but take the time to understand it. Don't invest in willy or nilly. Again, understand it, but only invest what you can feel comfortable losing. Read this blog, go to the library, Google the heck out of your browser, but learn what you need to learn. It's not rocket science. Only rocket science is rocket science.
3. Coupons. Use them. They are free money and the publishers of them count on you not using them. It's like if Superbowl tickets were going $3,000 each, but some agent was selling them for $2,000 because he knows no one is going to take advantage of it, he can continue to offer them at that price. And brag about it. The manufacturers know that probably >95% of people will ignore them, so they can offer really great deals. Take them up on it.
4. Wants vs needs. That 42" LCD looks awesome when they cut off your Comcast NFL package, doesn't it? My point is, as you go through life, look at those things that you need, versus those things that you want. Stop keeping up with the Joneses. They probably lost their jobs too. And their LCDs. And their furniture. And their cars. Want to keep up with the Joneses? Go down to the unemployment office, they're probably their in line.