Tips for a Sudden Job Loss

SC&C Money-Saving Tips during UnemploymentWe’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again (and again, and again) until we get the message through: Right now, while you’re still employed, start building your emergency fund. But just this once we won’t belabor the point, and assume that you’re actually in trouble because you don’t have an emergency fund, and you’ve been abruptly let go.

First Steps

Insurance

Don’t panic! Apply for unemployment insurance, today. Check to see what Medicaid benefits are available for you, today. Explain clearly if you need a prescription refilled within a couple of days. They are much more likely to be understanding and expedite the whole process.

Recommendation Letter

A couple of days later, certainly within a week, contact your former manager to ask about a letter of recommendation. Surprisingly, irrespective of the circumstances under which you left, they are often willing to supply such a letter.

HR Department

In addition, contact the HR department and determine how long your benefits (medical plan, dental plan, life insurance, etc.) will carry over. This is often three months, but most people fail to inquire or take advantage of any benefits.

Creditors

Contact your creditors and apprise them of the situation. You’ll be amazed how many of them are willing to accept simple interest payments for a few months, until you are back on your feet, rather than forcing a default. They want to get their money back, not to engage in expensive collections, so you’ll find that they’re willing to work with you. Not keeping them informed is the worst thing you can do.

Second Steps

SC&C Money-Saving Tips during UnemploymentCut Expenses

Proceed calmly to immediately cut all your expenses down to the bare bones. Suspend your housekeeping service, your gardener, your pool cleaner, if you have such luxuries, but don’t hide the situation from your family out of pride. Tell them they can no longer spend $300 a month per person on instant messaging and unlimited data on their telephones. Tell them “allowances” are suspended.

Reduce Cable and Phone Extras

Call your cable company and reduce your bazillion TV channel package to the basics (which doesn’t inspire service-cancellation fees). It will still provide entertainment for the family, but at a trivial cost compared to dinners out, or movies in theaters. It might even be more economical to do away with the cable TV Service entirely and rely strictly on broadband data and Wi-Fi for your entertainment. Much of our entertainment is now mobile available.

Adjust Thermostat

Adjusting your household thermostat by 5° in the “wrong” direction could conceivably save you $100 a month, at the cost of shedding or donning a sweater. Decreasing the temperature on the hot water tank by 10 or 20° could save you even more, and everybody should be further restricted to military-like showers to minimize use.

Thrift Stores for Clothes

Tell the kids that you’re “going retro” and take a family trip to shop for unique clothing items at the local thrift stores. It can be a fun excursion instead of a painful or embarrassing “emergency measure.” Finding a kitschy sweater for $5.00, and a cool hat for $1.00 can actually be a fun and exciting adventure. And quite surprisingly, there are number of really good suits that can be worn to job interviews!

Of course, there are all sorts of job-search strategies out there so we won’t go into that. But there are ways to save money during that search.

Third Steps

Job-Search Savings

Don’t go to Kinko’s and get 100 copies of your résumé printed. Get a couple to use for reference while filling out application forms (consistency is important) and to use at an interview, if your interviewer asks.

Tangible copies are generally passé and essentially, a waste of time. On the whole, to potential employers, they’re actually more work to process, and some won’t even be bothered. Employers want electronic copies that can be processed by their ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) programs and sending résumés electronically costs you nothing.

SC&C Money-Saving tips during unemploymentNext, consider how you’re going to get to your job interview. Taking your car, including the expense of gas and parking, could cost between $20 and $50 when a roundtrip bus fare might be had for under $5. A couple of interviews by car in different places might mean not eating that night, or living on rice for a week.

Don’t use the job interview as an excuse to go to a fast food restaurant. Stick a couple of sandwiches and a thermos of soup in your briefcase (and a toothbrush so you don’t have any lettuce stuck in your teeth).

Network

Reach out to friends and relatives for support. You may think you’re doing fine when suddenly it hits you that you’re unemployed, and your situation is overwhelming. Burying yourself in your job search is one technique. Meeting a friend for a coffee is another and can have a really stabilizing effect.

Call 2-1-1

If you don’t have 2-1-1 Service in your area, go to the 2-1-1 website. They can help you locate community resources to help you find employment, food pantries, training, care for an aging parent, and all sorts of other ways to help control your expenses while you are looking for a new job.

It’s not hopeless. It never is. There are systems, social structures, and individuals who are willing to help. It may only take a trivial amount of research, but that is only useful if you know that the resources are out there. And now you do.

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