It’s time to face the music, as the odds of a recession have grown, and major decisions regarding lifestyle, investments and exchange traded funds (ETFs) will have a greater impact.

In an effort to prepare, Kathleen Pender for San Francisco Chronicle offers up the financial industry’s equivalent of an earthquake (or for those of you on the East Coast, hurricane) preparedness kit. Many of us have learned the hard lesson of waiting until the problem is already upon us before taking preventative action: you often wind up stranded in a picked-over grocery store. Those who planned ahead, of course, are at home relaxing with their ample supply of bread and milk.

Don’t wait until the middle of a recession to begin taking action. There are things you can think about now to stave off trouble down the road. Among Pender’s suggestions:

  • How is your job? Assess your situation and if you’re feeling vulnerable, consider looking into or training for a new career.
  • Build an emergency fund. You should have three to six months of living expenses somewhere safe (no, the jar in the back yard is not safe).
  • Curb your spending on non-essentials, or if you’re unwilling, get another job.
  • Pay off your credit cards. They are not your rainy day fund.
  • Don’t go out and buy a second home before the first one has sold, and don’t quit your job before you have another one lined up. The housing and job markets are among the hardest-hit industries at this time.

To all that, we would add: don’t forget to check in with investments and ETFs. Review your holdings and assess your exit strategy.

Prepare to hold on tight for the ride. Although most recessions aren’t recognized until months or years after they happen, some economists say one has begun. Employment, real personal income, industrial production, real manufacturing and retail sales all peaked in November and December, suggesting that in January, we entered a recession.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.