Put together your own stimulus plan



NEW YORK (CNN) -- The stimulus package is one year old and if you still are looking for work, you can look for jobs funded by stimulus spending. To find the jobs, you'll have to follow the money.

Go to recovery.gov, a government Web site designed to track stimulus money, and the section called "Track the Money." This is a database of grant recipients -- in other words companies that may soon be hiring -- and the federal agencies that awarded the funds. You can scan by state to find projects near you.

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The stimulus also provides funding for green jobs. The federal aid package sets aside $5 billion worth of spending for making homes and buildings more energy efficient. Some job titles that are in demand: energy auditors and energy efficiency technicians. There are a number of online job boards that you can look at to get an idea about what kind of training and qualifications you will need. Here are some Web sites to start your search: ecojobs.com, renewableenergyworld.com and greenbiz.com. Of course, internships and apprenticeships are a great way to find out if you like that line of work and to make important contacts. And don't forget to check out the government's database of jobs at usajobs.gov.

According to the Department of Education about 400,000 jobs were retained or created through stimulus grants, 325,000 of them are jobs in education. To find out if schools in your area have received grants -- and whether they may be hiring, and go to ED.gov and look for ED recovery act.

If you're a student, find out about scholarships at Fastweb.com and make sure you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The sooner you submit your paperwork, the greater likelihood you have of getting money. If you don't think you'll be able to afford four-year degree, consider going to a community college, where the curriculum is more tailored to what employers in the area are looking for. If you're trying to save money for college check out youngmoney.com. You can view a college savings calculator. You'll be able to fine tune your savings plan, and view expenses by year, along with the total expected costs.

If you are struggling each month to pay off your credit card's minimum payments, or you find that you're using one credit card to pay off another, it may be time to call in a professional. Don't be swayed by commercials or solicitations to consolidate or settle your debt. Get free (or, at least low cost) help from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at NFCC.org. You'll be hooked up with a counselor who can put you on a debt management plan. With this plan you generally will work with a counselor to pay off your debts in three to five years.

Take advantage of free budgeting software like Mint.com and wesabe.com. Using these sites can give you a bigger picture of your financial health. You'll be able to see how what exactly your spending trends are.

**CNN's Jen Haley contributed to this story**

You can catch Gerri on "Your Bottom Line" every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on CNN.

Talkback: Have you seen the impact of the stimulus plan? To top of page

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