NEW YORK – While many Americans have been unemployed, even more have been “underemployed,” a term that refers to those who have taken part-time or temporary work, often for a lower salary.

This type of situation can easily take its toll on your bill paying and money management, as you must learn to live with less income than you are used to. But more than that, it’s stressful to deal with the lack of job stability; not knowing when your precarious situation might come to an end.

The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, an umbrella organization of consumer-advice groups based in Fairfax, Va., has some tips to stay afloat until better times arrive:

Don’t use your credit card as if it’s a debit card. This may be difficult and require extra discipline, but bills can snowball quickly on credit cards and overwhelm a tight budget. Studies have also shown that shoppers spend more and with less responsibility when using credit cards.

If you know you will have difficulty paying bills, contact your creditors and try to negotiate a new payment schedule. Don’t wait until after you are late with payments.

Take this job and do something with it. The job market won’t be bleak forever. Get as much as you can out of your current position: Make yourself valuable, learn new skills and continue to seek a new position.

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