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Preparing for a layoff

Gerri Willis gives top tips on softening the blow of losing a job.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Nearly 2 million jobs have been lost this year and more cuts are coming. Could you be next? Here's what you can do if you're worried you'll lose your job.

1. Get prepared

Get some savings together. If you don't have six months worth of savings - enough to cover your mortgage or rent, food, energy and transportation - GET IT.

In this environment, when there is more competition and fewer jobs available, it may take even more time for you to find a job.

It's worth it to stop contributing to your 401(k) and sock the money into an savings account if you currently have no savings and you are reasonably certain you are about to be laid off.

2. Use up your health benefits.

Get the annual checkup, specialty exams, shots, in short, everything, because you don't know what sort of insurance coverage you might have once you are jobless.

The only thing that you can count on is that coverage will cost you more.

Use up any money in a health savings account or transportation savings account. This money disappears at the end of the calendar year. It's your dough, don't leave it on the table.

And now is the time to start reading up on COBRA coverage. Go to the Department of Labor at www.dol.gov and search for COBRA.

3. Get the forecast

Let's take a look at some forecasts.

Economy.com predicts this year we'll see 2.4 million jobs lost. And by the end of 2009, there will be 2.7 million people out of work.

All is not lost. It may be that you aren't going to get laid off, or that your employer is currently putting together the list of folks who are about to be axed.

For that reason, you'll want to continue to push your star higher at work.

Get yourself assigned to critical company projects. Find ways for the company to save money. Reestablish connections with people in different parts of the company. To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to toptips@cnn.com or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.
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