Even if Washington is still hesitant to use the “R” word, we all know how things are headed. Most of us remember the drill from 2001 and the early nineties. At least that should be one comfort to us all — the fact that a slumping economy is indeed cyclical and the most recent recessions were short-lived.

Yes, we will eventually find our way out of this mess. The trick is to make it through the recession unscathed so there won’t be too many broken pieces to pick up.

Here are five tips for getting through a recession with nary a mark on you:

1. Increase Your Emergency Fund – You have probably heard this advice many times before, but it is more important now than ever. You should have three to six months worth of living expenses saved for an emergency. Is this realistic for the average debt-riddled American? Perhaps not, but now is the time to become frugal and start saving as much as possible.

2. Reconsider That Second Home – One of the worst things you can do right now is buy a second home before you sell the first one. The housing market is going to get worse before it gets better. Even if you qualify for a second mortgage and can eat two mortgages for a while, do you really want to live with that situation for an indefinite amount of time? The truth is, mortgage lenders are being extremely careful these days. Even if you can find willing buyers, it is hard to find buyers that qualify for a loan.

3. Start Training for Additional Job Skills – The most recession-proof industries are health care, education, security, energy and the environmental sector. Whether you work in one of those industries or not, you should try to increase your “hireability” by training for additional skills. Perhaps your company offers additional job training or there are adult education courses you could take at night.

4. Keep Your Resume Updated – Just as you should be increasing your work skills, you should be dusting off the old resume. Even if there has been no hint of lay-offs at your company, you never know how things could turn within a few months. You may even decide to start looking for a new, recession-proof position if your company starts to suffer. Don’t be caught off-guard, only to realize that you haven’t looked over your resume in years.

5. Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt – This is a goal that we should strive for during any kind of economic climate. However, a recession is the worst time to carry a lot of credit card debt. For one thing, you need an emergency buffer if something unforeseen should happen. A maxed out credit card can’t really help you out in a pinch, can it? Another reason you should pay down the debt is to help out your credit history. Again, lenders are being extremely tight-fisted these days, so you need to improve your income to debt ratio.

*This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is an industry critic on the subject of best balance transfer credit card. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.