I very vividly remember the day I lost my job. The company I was working for closed. I packed up my desk, loaded everything in the back of my car and drove home.
I was working for a small newspaper outside of Atlanta in the summer of 2008. One afternoon our paychecks were handed to us. But when my coworkers and I went to deposit the checks we were told there were insufficient funds to deposit. Our paychecks had bounced.
Needless to say we had a LOT of questions. We received few answers. We were told to take our computers in lieu of payment and that the company we were working for was now closed. The end. Game over.
We were actually asked to stay on for a little while and see if the company could bounce back. In case you weren't following, we were asked to WORK FOR FREE.
I drove home very slowly that day. I didn't know what I was going to d- what my husband and I were going to do. That was on a Wednesday. That Friday my husband came home to tell me he had taken a large pay cut at work.
This was the beginning of a pretty difficult two-year period of our lives. It felt so uncertain. I felt to insecure within my own life. Like sitting in the front of a roller coaster without a safety belt to hold me in place.
I didn't know how things were going to turn out. If you've read this blog for any length of time then you know, 3.5 years later we had a baby and took a new job. You know we paid off our debts. You know that chapter of our story ended on a happy note.
But I've not forgotten the fear and uncertainty that I felt in those months and years. I wish someone had reached out and told me it was going to be okay.
Before Jason and I faced out respective pay cut and job loss, we could pay our bills. But we had accumulated credit card debt and were living a lifestyle we couldn't afford. And we didn't have an emergency fund. Basically, we were really dumb kids who had made a bunch of really dumb decisions.
When facing a job loss, the best piece of advice I can give you is, face the situation head on.
1. Check on any benefits you might be eligible for
Of course when facing a job loss, go ahead and apply for any unemployment or insurance benefits you might need. I don't have any information for you on this process, so check what your state has to say about that.
If you're unsure whether or not you qualify for unemployment check out this article from Learning Vest.
If you're wondering about your healthcare benefits read this article from Healthcare.gov.
2. Set your immediate priorities
Make a list. Just like you would make a to do list on a hectic day, make a priorities list of how you should spend your funds.
- Basic utilities like water, electric, and gas
- Gas to get to work
- Your creditors and other debts
Focus on your family's immediate needs first. Don't pay off your credit card and have your lights cut off.
3. Make a budget
Now, more than ever, you need a budget. You need to tell your money where to go and how to work in your favor. First you have to get started. It doesn't have to be a complicated process.
Grab a piece of paper a calculator and a pencil. At the top of your paper write your monthly income. Then below it list your bills: mortgage, utilities, food etc. etc. You get the picture. When you get to the bottom make sure it all balances out. All of your money should be allocated.
If you've tried a budget before and it didn't work for you, try again. Here is a post that might help you troubleshoot why your budget failed to begin with.
4. Figure out who you owe money to
After you get that settled, it's time to look at your financial picture. Sit down and list out your debts. I know that may be the LAST thing you feel like doing right now, but trust me, it's important.
It is important when paying off debt and deciding to get in control of your finances to see what you're dealing with. This brings a level of sanity to an otherwise insane situation.
5. Get current on your bills
If you're dealing with a sudden loss of income and you don't have an emergency fund to fall back on (that's not a budget I HAVE BEEN THERE) you might worry how you're going to pay your bills.
It's important to stay current on your bills. But if you've fallen behind on paying your bills there are some things you can do to get back on track.
Don't be ashamed. This is temporary and more people have been there than you probably realize.
Pray. Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
If you're a Christian, pray and ask God to help you through this time. It's not going to last forever. If you're not a Christian and you want to know more I recommend this site to you.
Know you're going to get through this. Don't lose hope.
What about you? Have you been through a job loss?