This is a guest post from Hope of Hope Eternally.
Less than one month before Thanksgiving I was laid off. It has been devastating financially. As a single mom of four, I have been on a serious debt payoff journey these past couple of years and completely neglected building an emergency fund. I felt confident in my job as I had been with the same company for eight years so it was a big shock.
Instead of panicking, which was my gut reaction, I chose to breathe…and then I started making lists. I hope that two of my lists will help you if you are ever in a similar situation.
Five Financial Things to Do After a Job Loss
Note: I suggest doing these in order.
1. Take stock of your resources – put it on paper or in my case an Excel spreadsheet. Count your current bank account balances, available credit on your credit cards, and even the cash in your wallet.
2. Review your monthly budget – make sure your estimated outlay is realistic. I’m not saying to make any changes, just make sure that like your resources, your monthly output is on paper or recorded on a spreadsheet.
3. Look at your calendar – there are always events that cost extra and won’t always be included in your monthly budget, so look at what’s coming up in the next couple of months and then go back to your monthly budget and put a dollar value on them. (In my case, it was Thanksgiving and Christmas, not to mention a few of the kids’ activities!)
4. Take a breath – you have done the hard work now, gathered all the important information, now take a few days and just breathe. No big changes. (It is a great time to play hooky.)
5. Tighten the belt – now put it all together and make the necessary changes not just to your written budget and monthly commitments but also to your mindset. Again, it’s important you be realistic here. If like me, you are feeding a family of 5, you can’t cut your grocery budget to $100 per month, not even $300 will cut it in most cases; however, you can probably cut your cable or Netflix bill, maybe even some other discretionary spending.
Losing a job, especially as the sole provider, is very scary. Following these five steps really helped me get a grip on a financial plan for the coming months as I faced a job search and the holidays! But really, the financial plan was just the beginning, the next step was to make sure I was taking care of myself physically, emotionally and mentally during this time of uncertainty.
1. Tell someone – it is important that you have someone on your side to be your shoulder to cry on, cheerleader during the struggles, and someone to celebrate the successes. It also helps to take the stigma of negative feelings away when you share your burdens.
2. Exercise – go for a walk, go to the gym, punch a bag, do something to release the endorphins that can naturally stimulate peace and joy even during the toughest of times. And don’t just do it once, do it daily. Now that you are unemployed, you don’t have the excuse of being too busy…believe me I tried it.
3. Ask for help – this was the hardest part for me. Pride just made my gut twist with shame as I realized just how quickly I would run out of resources to support my kids – feed my family. I had to apply for food stamps, ask for help paying my rent and even get some guidance on doing my resume. But I promise you that as soon as you voice the need, there will be hands who will reach out without judgement.
4. Get an education – no, I don’t mean go back to school, well, unless that’s really something you need to do, but use this unexpected downtime to learn some new skills or get a certification in your area of expertise. Essentially add value to you! This can be via library books, training programs, online classes – it doesn’t have to be expensive and you’ve now got the time! (As an IT contractor, I am constantly trying to add to my skill set but also learning more about running a small business.)
As I am writing this I am knee-deep in a job search. It’s scary and nerve-wracking, kind of like riding a roller coaster you didn’t choose to get on and you can’t wait to get off. The bright side is that by following my lists, I am managing my stress and negative thoughts and focusing on the positives of this transition: extra time with my kids over the holidays, a chance to update my skills and unlimited options as to what is next!
And if I can just give you one more suggestion during your time of job transition…Count Your Blessings! (Finding things I’m grateful for was something I learned early on when my marriage failed.)
I would love to stay in touch with you. Please stop by and say hi at my site HopeEternally.com.
Single mompreneur Hope blogs about homeschooling her four kids, the challenges and joys of being foster/adoptive parent and small business ownership plus all the other roller coaster rides that life presents over at HopeEternally.com. Always a cup half full kind of girl, she loves life, is motivated to do right and strives to live by faith! You can follow her on social media at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.