The April issue of Money offers a guide to playing by the "New Money Rules," in the wake of plunging stock prices, rock bottom home values, and soaring unemployment. While traditional advice may have dictated you should buy a house ASAP or hop from position to position, that advice doesn't have the same relevance it used to. What are some of the new rules?
- Buy that house — if you plan to stay. In the long run, housing prices should keep just slightly ahead of inflation; in the short run, they may drop even more. Moving in less than five years? Maybe you should keep renting — you may not make enough on a home sale to cover your broker's fees and other costs.
- Save for a hefty down payment. If you are ready to buy, you'll need to put down at least 20 percent to make a deal. More money down, along with a 720-plus credit score, will help you nab the best mortgage rate.
- Try lowering the odds you'll get the ax. Take courses to keep your career skills current. You'll be less vulnerable in the next round of cuts and more competitive in the job market if you do get whacked. And make sure you have an emergency fund that can cover your living expenses for six months to a year.
- Give the boss a reason to love you. Just because you need to keep working doesn't mean your employer will accommodate you. Make yourself vital: know the latest technology and gain a rep as a problem solver. Plan B: go part-time, which works almost as well for preserving your nest egg as a full-time gig.