What To Do When You Lose Your Job

After losing your job, you might find yourself tempted to wallow, and avoid confronting your situation. Don’t do it. Yes, everyone is entitled to some grieving and processing time, but the most beneficial things you can do are realistically reassessing your current situation and planning for the future.

1. File for unemployment benefits.

Whether you realized it or not, a chunk of your paycheck has always gone toward unemployment. Now, it’s your turn to collect on the money you put into the system and the sooner you file for unemployment, the sooner you can collect your claim.

The exact process of filing for unemployment benefits varies between states, but most will allow you to you’re your claim online. Some states, such as California, require you to complete a phone interview with an employment counselor if you were fired, resigned or left due to trade agreements. Other states have no such interview requirement, but may ask you to describe the conditions surrounding your job loss in a paragraph or two.

Arrange the pieces of information you’ll need before you sit down to file the claim. Most major employers will give you a packet of information when your employment is terminated, including your previous salary, official duties and position title.

2. Talley Your Current Monthly Expenditures

It’s easy to forget how much money we spend each month until we do the math. List all your monthly expenses with a notation of the total amount spent per item each month. This includes everything from you’re your mortgage and cell phone bill, to your pet’s food, gas and your gym membership.

Be honest with yourself. In other words, don’t forget to list the little things like spending $50 every other week to get your nails done, or $89 to play a round of golf. This list will help you make reasonable, rational cuts in your spending.

Hold this total monthly amount against your severance package and your unemployment benefits. A realistic comparison helps you think rationally. It also prevents you from taking drastic, sometimes detrimental, measures, like immediately selling your family’s second car or placing the house on the market.

3. Cut Costs Sensibly

Now that you know the difference between your income and your spending, you’re ready to cut costs. Prioritize in several different groups for easy assessment and with an eye on protecting your credit rating.

Non-Adjustable Expenses: This includes things like your car payments, your utility bill and your mortgage.

Adjustable Expenses: These are expenses you can’t necessarily eliminate entirely, but you can adjust the monthly cost. For example, eliminate any unnecessary features in your cell phone plan, such as wi-fi access, unlimited texting service. Scaling back on your cable or Internet plan is another way to reduce costs.

You can reduce your total grocery budget by making a meal plan for each day of the week and only buying those items included on the meal plan. Finally, don’t discount the value of clipping coupons- the weekly circulars, and a little brand flexibility, can easily cut your grocery bill in half.

Unnecessary Expenses: You don’t have to eliminate all unnecessary expenses entirely, but you would be wise to consider scaling back your weekly golf game or “date night” to once a month or less. Only you can determine what is truly unnecessary, but for most people this includes some of the following:

-Eating out

-Going to the movies

-Getting your hair and nails done every few weeks

-Maid service or housekeeping service

Keep in mind that this is stressful time for you children as well. Pare down child-related expenses in a way that affects them the least. For example, keep the activities your child really loves, such as dance class or baseball, but scale back on things like getting ice cream every week after soccer practice and unecessary new outfits.

4. Secure Your Health Insurance

Especially if you have a family, health insurance is incredibly important when you’re unemployed. Even if you find a job within a few months, anything you or your family develops during the interim likely won’t be covered under your new insurance.

Depending on your termination contract, your former employer may offer to pay a sizable chuck of an otherwise expensive COBRA plan, or some other type of health insurance. Sit down and figure out which plan makes the most sense for your family, based on co-pays and deductibles.

Regardless of the specific circumstances, your age, or the position you previously held, losing your job is a deeply unsettling experience for anyone. Although it feels overwhelming and insurmountable now, losing your job is but a small, temporary bump on your professional road.