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      Money Talks News: Steps to Take When Your Income Drops

      "I was having trouble sleeping when I lost the hours and just had to get a credit card and I didn't want to use it."

      If you've never been in Brian Watson's position, you know someone who has. A sudden loss of income left him fighting for financial survival.

      It's times like his when you have to tighten that belt and do it fast. But you can make it work, if you take it step by step.

      Step one? Assess your situation. Take stock of your income, your bills and your savings.

      If you see you're not going to make it, turn to a non-profit credit counseling agency for some free help.Step two: See where your money's going now, then look for ways to save.

      For example, food. Take a bite out of bills by cooking at home, bringing lunch to work and doing potlucks with friends instead of restaurants.

      Another place to trim: transportation. Carpool. Walk or ride your bike more. Do whatever you can to use that car less.

      "I started combining trips, which allowed me to decrease the amount of gas that I used in a month.

      Next those monthly expenses: Your utilities, your cell phone, your cable. Little things add up. Cut them where you can.

      For Brian, little changes worked. He's now back on his feet.

      "I've been able to avoid using the credit card and racking up any debt. So that's a pretty good feeling."

      Bottom line... Bad things happen to good people. That's why you should always have two things: an emergency fund and firm grip on your finances.

      Want more ideas? Go to Just do a search for "ways to save." For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.