With the ever-changing economic climate and the tendency for manufacturing jobs to go overseas, layoffs have become all too common. One day you might be going in to work as usual, and the next you could be sent packing.
Unexpected job loss can really take the wind out of our sails. Not knowing how we will provide for ourselves and our families is a horrible feeling. It can emotionally and mentally paralyze us, leaving us ill equipped to get back on our feet.
If you lose your job, don’t panic. If you keep a clear head, you can keep your personal finances in order until you find another job. Here are ten things to remember.
1. When you find out that you are going to be out of work, talk to your employer about severance benefits. You may or may not be entitled to a severance package, depending on your company’s policies and your employment contract. But in the case of a layoff, an employer could decide to provide a severance package anyway. If not, you may be able to negotiate and get one.
2. Apply for unemployment. If you were laid off, you should be eligible as long as you’ve worked and earned enough in the past year or so. You may also be eligible for unemployment under some other circumstances, except if you were fired for misconduct. As long as you are truthful about what happened, it can’t hurt to apply.
3. Consider your health and dental insurance options. You should be able to continue the health coverage provided by your former employer in most situations, but may have to pay the entire premium yourself. If your spouse has group health insurance, signing up with that plan might be a cheaper option.
4. Roll over your 401K. You will have a specified amount of time in which to do this before your employer writes you a check for the balance. After that, you have sixty days to deposit it directly into an IRA before you incur taxes and penalties. Even if you may need to use some of the money, rolling it over first will prevent you from having to pay taxes and penalties on the amount you don’t use.
5. Polish your resume and brush up on your interview skills. The job market is more competitive than ever, but if you present yourself well and let potential employers know what you have to offer with confidence, you can increase your chances of finding a good position.
6. Take advantage of any job search help that’s available. Your former employer may provide assistance in finding a new job. If not, your local job service offers lots of free services.
7. Find alternative ways to make money from home to help tide you over. Have a garage sale, sell stuff on eBay, or clean houses or do yard work part time. You can make some money without forfeiting your unemployment benefits.
8. Re-evaluate your budget. Even if you receive unemployment, you’ll be living off of much less money than usual. Eliminate unnecessary bills and expenses, and determine how long you can make it on any income that you have.
9. Utilize your savings with caution. Ideally, you should have some savings put away for situations such as this. If not, you may need to withdraw money from annuities or retirement accounts or sell your stocks. Each of these options can cost you money in one way or another, so use them only if necessary.
10. Talk to your creditors if you’re having trouble keeping up with necessary bills. Going to them before you get behind will make it easier to negotiate lower payments or reduced interest.
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