Color of Money: Are you facing a loss of income? Here are four moves you need to make now.

Michelle Singletary on

WASHINGTON -- Would you be able to survive financially if you suddenly found yourself out of work?

This is a question many people are asking themselves in the new year as they face job losses in both the private and public sectors.

For example, when we hear about a looming government shutdown, we usually think of the legions of federal employees who will be impacted. But there are thousands of people working for government contractors who worry that they, too, might be pulled into the political tug-of-war.

If the government closes, many contractors can't work. And unlike federal employees, they may never get back those lost wages. Some will be able to take leave to ensure they get paid, but that means sacrificing their vacation time.

And let's not forget that there are thousands of other workers across the country who have been told they're losing their jobs in the new year.

Last week, Wal-Mart announced it's closing 63 Sam's Club stores. It's unclear at this point how many workers will be affected, because some might be transferred to other locations. But Wal-Mart said it will convert up to 12 Sam's Clubs to eCommerce fulfillment centers for online orders.


Meanwhile, 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores are slated to be shuttered this month. And Macy's expects 5,000 job cuts because of store closings.

Whether you're a federal government worker, contractor or private-sector employee, any disruption in your income can throw you into a panic. It's tough making ends meet. More than three-quarters of workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to research by CareerBuilder.

And it's not just low-earning workers who are worried. One out of 10 survey participants earning $100,000 or more said they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, as well.

In the CareerBuilder survey, 20 percent of employees said they've missed a payment on some smaller bills. Seventy-one percent of workers are in debt.


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