For each of the six areas, place a check-mark in either the Danger Zone or the Safe Zone box:
o Danger ZoneYour job is in . . . Housing, Finance, Auto, Retail, Hospitality, Services, Manufacturing, Airlines, or you are a Low Wage Worker or a New Hire.
o Safe ZoneAny other job.
The is one of the most important areas because losing your source of income can quickly derail your finances. Unemployment is high and there may be more layoffs, especially in the Danger Zone industries.
2. HOUSEHOLD INCOME (IF YOU ARE MARRIED)
o Danger ZoneYou and your spouse work.
o Safe ZoneYou or your spouse work.
It may sound like I've got this backwards, but think of it like this: If there are two people struggling to make the mortgage and pay the bills and one loses their job, there's nobody there to help. But when only one spouse works, the other spouse can jump in or lend them a hand by getting a job -- even if it's just temporary.
o Danger Zone0-5 months of living expenses in cash/investments.
o Safe Zone6+ months of living expenses in cash/investments.
The more cash you have set aside, the stronger your safety net if you lose your job, get sick, or have unexpected expenses.
o Danger ZoneYour monthly expenses are high and can't be reduced (e.g., mortgage, car payment).
o Safe ZoneYour monthly expenses are low and can be reduced (e.g., entertainment, dining out, shopping).
If you're scraping by each month and most of your expenses are fixed (meaning you can't reduce them if you wanted to), you're in the Danger Zone. On the other hand, if you have money left over every month or if your expenses are variable (meaning you can reduce them if you need to) you're in the Safe Zone.
o Danger ZoneYou have a large amount of debt and/or your interest rates are variable.
o Safe ZoneYou have a small amount of debt and/or you interest rates are fixed.
If you have a lot of debt with a variable rate, you're in the Danger Zone. But if you have little debt or have it locked in for a low, long-term rate, you're in a much safer position.
6. SUPPORT NETWORK
o Danger ZoneYou have no family/friends nearby who can provide support.
o Safe ZoneYou have nearby family/friends who can provide support (e.g., childcare, housing).
If you have people who can help you if your car breaks down, if you need someone to watch your kids after school, or if you need a place to stay while you get back on your feet, you're in the Safe Zone. If you don't have this kind of support network you are much more vulnerable.
How to Score and Think About this QuizTwo important points: First, just because you are in the Danger Zone on one or more of the questions doesn't mean you are going to be out on the street. It just means that you have some serious potential problems that you need to recognize and address. Use your fear to motivate you, not paralyze you. Determine what you need to do to move into the Safe Zone and take action. There are plenty of free books and blogs such as those right here at CBS MoneyWatch as well as Get Rich Slowly, The Financial Samurai, The Simple Dollar, Bargaineering, and Man Vs. Debt with tips and advice.
Second, if most of your check-marks are in the Safe Zone, congratulations. Feel good about your situation but don't be too smug. As we've seen, things can change quickly. "Safe" today can be a problem tomorrow. Spend some time building an even stronger foundation. Continue to create. Focus less on the headlines and more on how you can come out of this mess better and stronger.
Are you ready to create more money, time, energy, and passion in your life? Learn how to live your best life now with these free resources:
Get the "Achieving Peak Performance" ebook and video now!
(free for a limited time)
You can also join a community of passionate people at Richer Life who want to achieve more in life and at work. With your free membership, you can participate in conversations I have with experts, celebrities, authors, and thought leaders that are laser-focused on practical ways to drive more money, motivation, and meaning into your life. Take the first step toward creating a better life by joining Richer Life for free now!
* The Secret to Success for Artists and Creatives * Fear of Failure? Three Tips to Guarantee Success * Make Money From Your Hobbies