Losing your job can feel like the end of life as you know it. Not only are you losing the comforts of your daily routine and the camaraderie that’s often found in workplace relationships, you are losing what is often your sole source of income. And that can strike fear in even the bravest of hearts.
And while freaking out may happen despite your best intentions (Don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal.), know that you can absolutely handle this. All you need is a plan.
In Part Two of our Surviving a Lay-Off Series, we discuss a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to tackling your finances should you find yourself facing an inevitable lay-off.
DO take the time to sit down and triage your finances .
To do this, you’ll need to take stock of exactly how much money you’re spending each month and where you’re spending it. Start with a detailed review of your latest bank and credit card statements to have a clear picture of your current spending habits. Make a list of all of your recurring payments, as well as a list of the one-off items you tend to purchase each month. You need to know where every dollar, quarter, nickel, and dime are going, so be as thorough as possible in your review.
DO pare down as many expenses as possible.
Obviously easier said than done, but remember this is temporary. And a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. Once you have a full accounting of where your money’s going each month, you’ll then want to divide expenses into Needs vs Wants. Doing so will help you determine the extras that you can live without.
Expenses such as posh gym memberships, cable (Come on, streaming’s where it’s at anyways.), premium subscription services, etc. can all go on the chopping block. Consider which expenses can be completely eliminated and which ones simply need to be pared down.
For example, if going to the gym is something that you need to preserve your sexy and your sanity, then it might make sense to simply find a cheaper gym membership rather than get rid of it altogether.
The point is to cut and reduce as many expenses as possible to make this bump in the road a little less bumpy.
DO negotiate your debt.
When facing a job loss, it’s important that you remember that you are not without help or resources. MANY of the companies that you buy services from offer hardship programs of some kind including auto financiers, utility companies, credit card companies, your student loan lender, and others. Consider what kind of help you need and don’t be afraid to seek it out.
You might be surprised to find out how willing people are to work with you when you’re honest with them about your situation.
DO CONSIDER OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME OR ASSISTANCE.
As you’re figuring out ways to cut and reduce expenses, you’ll also want to look into ways to bring in income and/or help with expenses that might not be as easy to cut or reduce. One possible solution is to turn those doeful eyes of yours towards the sharing economy. Have an extra room or guesthouse that you can Airbnb? Have a car that you wouldn’t mind renting out on a site like Turo or Getaround? Or maybe you have some super-handy skills that could be leveraged on Task Rabbit.
In today’s digital app age, the sky is literally the limit when it comes to finding resourceful ways to bring in some cold, hard cash.
DO stockpile your cash.
If you’re fortunate enough to receive notice weeks or months ahead of a lay-off, start saving. Reduce or pause any and all contributions to investment plans such as your 401-K. Start paying the minimum amount on your credit cards to conserve cash. And begin cutting as many expenses as you possibly can.
DON’T DELAY WHEN IT COMES TO DOCTOR VISITS.
Similarly, if you receive advance notice of an upcoming lay-off, stop putting off all those doc visits that you missed because work kept getting in the way. Take care of any needed visits while you’re still fully covered by your employer’s insurance.
DON’T DELAY FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT.
This is a big one. A lot of people tend to think that unemployment (UE) funds are available the day you lose your job, but that is often not the case. Many states impose a minimum waiting period before UE benefits can begin. Also, UE payments can sometimes be delayed for weeks or months, depending on how quickly the state is able to process your claim. So, do yourself a favor and file for those benefits IMMEDIATELY so that you continue to have cash flow of some kind.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP.
Whether that means leaning on friends and family and/or dialing up your financial planner for some emergency advice, don’t be afraid to reach out to others during this time. Friends and loved ones can often help you gain the perspective that you need to weather the storm with a clear mind.
Additionally, know that there may be community and/or government programs that can assist you during this time. Again, there is absolutely ZERO shame in needing and asking for help. So, take the time to identify and research neighborhood, city, county, state, and federal programs that may be available for you to tap into.
We know how hard it can be to deal with a lay-off, so below are a few links to resources you may find helpful as you tackle your financial concerns.
Making Sense of Your Cents – Anab Abdill for AmPopsy
Laid Off? Take These Steps to Get Help – Kelsey Sheehy for NerdWallet
How to Get An Unemployment Deferment for a Student Loan – Justin Pritchard for The Balance