Thursday, July 9, 2015

10 Ways to Survive a Job Loss Financially

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

10 Ways to Survive a Job Loss Financially [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
You can survive a job loss financially with careful budgeting.
When you lose your job, you lose a paycheck. This situation is scary, especially if you have little or no savings and no other wage earner in your family. So when you become unemployed, start focusing on your job search. At the same time, use the following 10 ideas for financial survival. 

Some of these suggestions may sound harsh and almost impossible to implement, but it is critical that you take action to hold your finances together.
  1. Create a budget to track all your expenses and income. If you have a family, sit down together to discuss what everyone will do to stay within the budget. Learn all you can about budgeting and other good personal finance habits.
  2. If you receive severance from your former employer, be sure to manage it carefully. Make your severance last as long as possible.
  3. File for unemployment insurance with your state. In addition, if you are in a dire position, ask about other government assistance, such as expedited or emergency food stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--SNAP). Find a local American Job Center (which may be called by a different name in your area) to get started with unemployment insurance and government assistance referrals; all services are free, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
  4. Weigh your health insurance options. If you cannot be insured through a parent (if you are under age 26) or a spouse/partner, look into obtaining health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace at or through your state’s insurance exchange if offered instead. You may be eligible to receive a tax subsidy based on your income to immediately lower monthly health insurance premiums. If your income is very low, you may be directed to Medicaid. If your family income is too high for a subsidy or for Medicaid, COBRA is an option. Through COBRA (which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), you continue to pay premiums for the health insurance formerly provided through your past employer. 
  5. Avoid dipping into your retirement accounts. Hands off! Your retirement accounts are for your retirement. Any withdrawals you make may be penalized, although exceptions exist for certain financial hardships. But, if you pull out money now, how will you ever make it up for your retirement years? 
  6. Don’t be rash with your cash. Just spend less. You can do it! Stay away from restaurants, big stores, malls, online shopping, movie theaters, concerts, casinos, and anywhere money seems to evaporate. Get inexpensive haircuts. Make gifts instead of buying them. Shop at low-cost grocery stores. These changes will add up.
  7. Cut your bills as much as you can. Examine all your monthly bills to see what you can eliminate. Look into bundling, trimming, or cutting services and fees; eliminating unneeded insurance coverage; raising car and home insurance deductibles; and selecting cheaper phone, Internet, and TV options. Cancel your health club membership and start walking. 
  8. Avoid and manage debt. Call your lender about your mortgage to learn if you can arrange lower house payments while you are unemployed. Avoid piling up credit card debt because it may take years to pay off at high credit card interest rates. Use cash instead of credit cards to spend less.
  9. Raise income in multiple ways. Work part time, get a temp job, do odd jobs, take on seasonal work, or find freelance or consulting work. Sell items you don’t use or need. Perhaps you can rent a room or your garage.
  10. Become frugal. A thrifty lifestyle can benefit your wallet and other areas of your life. Cook at home, use the public library, enjoy free parks and events, take public transportation, buy used clothes, and repair clothes.
Economizing after a job loss is never fun and takes discipline and commitment. But it is often necessary to survive until you get rehired. In addition, you may develop personal finance skills, gain savings habits, and learn financial lessons that will benefit you for the rest of your life. 

Your ultimate goal should be to never again let your life be upended by a financial emergency. Aim to always have a healthy savings cushion, a budget, little or no debt, and a good grasp of your financial situation. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't Take a Vacation from Career Planning

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

Map Out Your Career Route and Destination for Success [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Map your career route and
destination for success.
It’s the time of year to take vacations. Even if you like to wing it on vacations, you probably do some planning. For example, at a minimum, you need to decide where you are going and how you will get there. More detailed planning includes where you will stop along the way and what you will do when you get there. Many tools, such as online trip sites, guidebooks, and travel agents, can help you with vacation planning. I find vacation planning, although time consuming and tedious, to be worth the effort. It helps me make the most of my trip and catch must-see sites. Plus, I like activity-filled vacations, so planning is key.

I’ve read that people spend more time on vacation planning than financial planning. Based on all the career unhappiness I see and hear about, my guess is that people spend even less time planning their careers than they do planning their vacations or their finances. If this description sounds like you, I suggest you spend time planning your career for greater work satisfaction and success.

Just like vacation planning, with career planning you want to decide your route and your destination. Through a variety of tools, such as career assessments, career coaching, career books, career websites, and self-examination, you can get started with career planning. Also talk to people in careers of interest and explore the education and training you need for possible career paths. In particular, read my recent post on Planting Seeds for Your Career Growth and Satisfaction for helpful resources and ways to get started. Then act and modify your plan as you go. Career planning is a lifelong process, and it will take you far.

Enjoy your vacation this summer!