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Resist the Impulse to Panic Over Finances
Daugherty, executive editor of Consumer Reports, put out by Consumers Union. “You will inevitably do something wrong.”

The first thing to do is take stock of your life. Determine how secure your job is, which, in these uncertain times, may not be easy.

If your job is relatively safe, step back and look at your financial situation.

It may seem overwhelming, but there are a few basic steps everyone can take to achieve some peace of mind. Since most banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, your accounts are insured up to $100,000. In addition, most individual retirement accounts and Keogh retirement accounts held by those institutions are insured up to $250,000.

“The F.D.I.C. is about as safe as it gets in this world,” Mr. Daugherty said.

Next, take a hard, realistic look at your debt.

It may be somewhat painful, but now is the time to ask some difficult questions. Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, suggests starting with these: Are you having trouble keeping up with

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