Ominous headlines about layoffs. “For sale” signs and plummeting stock markets. Everywhere you turn lately, you see a test of your financial faith. Never fear. Here are common-sense tips to survive the current money crunch: Sorry, we know you’ll be humming the Fleetwood Mac song for hours. Still, tough financial times shouldn’t keep us from pursuing future plans such as college savings. If today’s sluggish economy proves anything, it’s that you need to arm your little cherub with a college education to survive when the time comes. There are two basic options in Michigan. The first is the Michigan Education Trust, a prepaid tuition plan that essentially functions like an insurance policy. Pay up front (learn more about the tax-deductible contracts at http://www.michigan.gov/setwithmet) and you’re covered for the future, regardless of how much tuition rates soar. The only catch is your child must attend a public university, college or community college in Michigan. Another option is a 529 plan such as the Michigan Education Savings Plan (http://www.misaves.com), which functions much like a mutual fund. You contribute, the money is invested and grows tax-deferred over time to cover the costs when the time comes. When should you start saving? “As soon as your child has a Social Security number,” Zale said.