Pink Slips: First You, Then the Help

At first, the Cliftons cut the sitter's weekly schedule down to two days a week and let her know they might need to lay her off soon.

"I feel worse because I'm a working mom too," Clifton said. "When we really had to let her go, I cried."

On (Not) Stimulating the Job Market

Does the growing phenomenon of the hand-me-down pink slip mean that we're all doomed to throw a wrench in the gears of our already-spluttering economy?

Not necessarily.

There are some steps you can take to help those you're axing line up new work, not to mention ease your guilt.

Besides giving domestic workers ample warning, tell them how much you appreciate the job they've done for you, give them the "it's not you -- it's me" speech and "do it with a reference letter in hand," advised Clark. Even better if you can refer them to anyone else who might need their services.

There's also a lot you can do to cut costs on services you can't drop because they're integral to your job hunt (child care, car repairs and the like) or your peace of mind (house cleaner, dog walker and the like). But that doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar. Clark offers these money-saving suggestions:

Follow the coupons. If, for example, you can't get around wearing dry cleanables, "loosen up your loyalties to one provider and bounce around to find the best deal," he said.

Swap services. If ever there was a time to barter, it's now. Swap child-care duties with friends and neighbors. Or offer to update your mechanic's Web site, pressure-wash his parking lot or anything else you know how to do in exchange for that much-needed tune-up.

Hire a student. If you've decided that having your dog walked each Monday while you're out cruising the job fairs is integral to your well-being but you can't shell out the $25 a week the pros are charging, look to your friendly neighborhood teen for a lower price.

Sure, it's not as ideal as employing the service providers or small businesses you know and love at top dollar. But a little money thrown back into the economy is better than none.

And if it helps with the guilt, pass along a dinner invite to your laid-off nanny or housekeeper.

Just make sure you don't ask them to do the dishes.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" and "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" (October 2008) -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog,

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