FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – With five days to go before Congress goes “off the fiscal cliff,” a Fort Worth financial advisor has suggestions on how North Texans can prepare for it.

“It’s making prudent decisions,” says Roger Whitney of WWK Wealth Advisors.

He warns we still don’t know what the fiscal rules will be in 2013. But if the Bush-era tax cuts expire, we’ll all likely feel it.

A modest income of 43-to-50 thousand dollars will see a 4% tax increase, he says.

“If you take the $50,000 earner, their taxes are going to go up by $3,000 a year, which is $250 a month. Now, that may not seem like a lot, but it is. When you’re already working on your cash reserves and trying to provide for your family. It just creates more economic stress.”

For higher incomes, 70-to-140-thousand, expect a 6% hike.

“And as a family of four making $80,000 it’s hard. It’s hard. I have two teenage children,” he offered, “It’s hard to cover their expenses and manage the household when you’re going to have $5,000-6,000 less in money.”

Whitney worries the combination of tax increases and dramatic spending cuts could throw the economy into a tailspin.

“And if you have that type of money coming out of the economy with the taxes going up. That’s less money for individuals to spend, if you have mandatory spending cuts for over a trillion dollars, that’s less money to spend and buy things and purchase things.”

He suggests families work on a checklist now.

“They don’t know what their tax rate is going to be, they don’t know what the health cost is going to be, they don’t know what the viability of the job market or the wage growth is going to be; so it makes everybody tighten up.” He adds, “Decide what your financial priorities are. Because everything is a tradeoff.”

Do you really want expensive custom coffees? Do you need premium cable channels, or cable TV at all? What about family cellphone plans? Whitney won’t buy any more apps. He says the average smartphone has 41 apps, and spread over a family of four that equals 264-dollars.

His bottom line? “I can’t count on the government or the economy or my employer, all I can do is focus on what I have some reasonable control over.”

Living within your means, having some cash in reserve, and limiting debt are Whitney’s keys to financial stability in these cliff-hanger times.

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