Despite the longest bull market since WWII, low unemployment and an albeit slow, but steady, recovery over the last decade, the reality is that 'Winter is Coming'.

With many experts predicting a looming downturn in 2019 or 2020 that may be on par with the Great Recession, now is the time to start thinking about securing your future.

Having graduated into the worst recession since the 30s, I have a more than a little first-hand experience on traversing that terrain.

1. Start planning for it now.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2007 and the contagion began to spread, the biggest shock was the sheer number of people caught flat-footed. Employed one day and packing up their desks the next, thousands of people across industries were suddenly in the hunt for a new job. Many without a thought or idea about what they would do next. 

Rather than wait for it to happen again, begin to pull together a plan B now. If you were suddenly left without a job what would you do next? Move to another, similar firm? Pursue a completely different career? Finally get that Master's degree you were always planning? Launch a new business? 

Having a clear course of action reduces the shock and allows you to view it as an opportunity rather than a crisis.

2. Widen your network.

The greatest resource to a job seeker is the group of people they know. Having even a small group of professional connections in and around your industry can exponentially help the chances of landing on your feet during a difficult time. Having been rather unceremoniously left out in the cold before I know more than most the power of calling upon your peers for assistance.

If you're not already an active part in a community, it could pay off in spades to get involved. Join an industry association, the PTA, a meetup group for finance professionals in their 40s. You don't need to do anything other than show up, get involved and make some connections. Then when the hard times hit, at the very least you've got a group of people to call on.  

3. Pay down your debts.

The crippling nature of the last recession wasn't necessarily the sudden stoppage of cash flow due to a loss of job or insolvency (although that was a close second) it was the fact that so many businesses and individuals were left with insurmountable debts after gorging on cheap credit for so long. There's always some way to make more money or eke out what you have for a short period but when you're left with a large nut to pay every month to keep your creditors at bay, the molehill you have to climb suddenly becomes a mountain.

Although the fundamentals of the market seem OK for now, even good in certain industries, and the urge may be to continue to borrow and spend your way to further success, now is a better time than ever to start paying down some of what you owe. 

Stay optimistic about the future but prepared for trouble and you'll be in a much better place, if and when it appears.

Published on: Dec 13, 2018
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