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What To Do If You’re Laid Off

Posted by Freedom First Credit Union on Feb 16, 2023 12:00:00 AM
Freedom First Credit Union


As you scroll through the news headlines, predictions of a looming recession are becoming more frequent. If you were in the workforce during the Great Recession of ’08, you know the one word that usually follows “recession” is “layoffs.” Add in the rising interest rates caused by inflation, and many debt-heavy businesses are likely already looking at staff reductions.

Even if you feel secure in your job, crafting a strategy to deal with a hypothetical layoff never hurts. Doing so will help familiarize you with the steps to take, and you could assist friends and family members who aren’t so lucky.

The following guide will walk you through steps you should take if you face an unexpected job loss.

Part 1: The Mental Checkup

Finding yourself suddenly unemployed can send you into a panic. In addition to your current financial obligations, it can often feel like a part of your identity was taken from you. If you can afford to do so, take some time to get yourself back in the right frame of mind.

  • Clear Your Head.

First, it’s important to remind yourself that layoffs are rarely personal. Personnel costs are usually a company’s largest expense, so it’s more of a numbers game that affects people at all salary levels. Second, don’t feel undervalued. The business hired you initially because they saw your merits – it’s their loss in having to let you go.

  • Focus on You.

Use this time to reevaluate your goals. Perhaps this move is a blessing in disguise. For example, you might have been working at a job, but now you can pursue a career you’re passionate about, and that excites you.

  • Boost Your Value.

 As you begin looking for a new position, invest a portion of your time in yourself. Take online courses, earn certifications in your field, or learn a new skill. You can also tap into resources online or locally to fine-tune your resume and expand your network.

Take a step back, recharge, and rediscover what you want from your next position. New opportunities will soon surround you, and you must be mentally prepared to act on them.

Part 2: The Financial Checkup

The tallest hurdle you’ll face when suddenly unemployed is managing your money. Even a short pause in receiving paychecks can throw your finances off track. However, with a bit of preparation, you can devise a plan to ensure you’re still able to meet your financial obligations.

  • Assess Your Finances.

Review all your current financial accounts. List the balances in your savings, checking, and investment accounts. Then, itemize your existing debts – from auto and home loans to personal loans and credit card bills. Your goal is to get a bird’s-eye view of your finances. If you received a severance package from your employer, factor in those funds as well.

  • File for Unemployment.

Research the unemployment process in your state and file as soon as possible. These funds could provide much-needed relief as you begin your new job search. Even if you feel you can find another position quickly, it never hurts to start the process.

  • Review Your Healthcare Options.

Employees laid off typically have the option to retain the same healthcare coverage for themselves and their families through COBRA. However, because your employer was likely paying at least a portion of your health insurance, COBRA plans can be costly when paying as an independent. Alternatively, many major health insurance providers offer temporary family plans that are much more affordable.

  • Revisit Your Budget.

Spend some time going through your monthly budget. If you don’t currently use a budget, now is the time to create one. Review several months of past account statements to ensure you include all your monthly expenses. Then, begin looking for areas to cut back temporarily. Try to free up as much money as possible while pursuing new employment opportunities.

  • Consider Other Income Sources.

If you have an emergency fund, now is the perfect time to put it to use. Next, you might explore liquidating some of your investments. If you decide to go this route, it’s wise to consult your financial advisor first. You’ll want to avoid pulling from tax-advantaged retirement accounts, if possible. Doing so can result in costly penalties, and you’ll be responsible for applicable taxes.

  • Use Credit Wisely.

If you’re having trouble making ends meet, relying on credit cards can be tempting. However, the higher interest rates of traditional credit cards can create a debt cycle that’s hard to escape – even after you land a new job. If you’re considering outside financing to help boost your spending power, opt for a personal loan from the credit union. With lower interest rates and fixed monthly payments, you’ll generally pay less interest versus traditional credit cards.

  • Ask for Help.

Sometimes finding a new job can take longer than expected. If that’s the case and you’re worried you might miss a loan payment or be late on a bill, don’t fret. Typically, most financial institutions and vendors (such as utility companies) have solutions to help those facing financial setbacks.

However, it’s vital that you contact the business BEFORE your due date for two reasons. First, they’ll generally have more options available the sooner you reach out. Second, their solutions could prevent negative marks on your credit report.

Keeping your finances organized during a period of limited income is crucial. Spend time reviewing your accounts, updating your budget, and creating a plan to manage your finances as you seek a new job. If your job hunt takes longer than expected, contact the credit union to explore low-cost financing options.

We’re Here to Help!

Facing an unexpected job loss can be a stressful experience. While finding new employment will be a priority, don’t underestimate the effect of taking time to clear your head and refocus on your goals. Then, create a plan to manage your finances as you look for a new position.

If you’re interested in a short-term personal loan or want to explore assistance programs, we’re ready to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or contact The Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center.


Topics: Tips & Tricks, Personal Finance, Debt Management

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