Losing your job can be one of the hardest times of your life. Over the last few years, innumerable people worldwide have found themselves involuntarily out of work – often through no fault of their own. This year, many may again.
Since no one is immune from layoffs, it makes sense to plan ahead. Most financial advisers recommend keeping six months’ salary aside for contingencies.
If you’ve been a diligent saver and have investments that can be liquidated quickly, staying afloat might be easier. However, most of us don’t think about these possibilities until we are laid off. So what do you do if it happens to you, and you’re not prepared? Try these steps.
Step 1: Handle your emotions
It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of anger, self-pity and helplessness. Remind yourself – change is the only constant.
#Focus on the future: One day you could be looking back on this time with gratitude. Was it a chance to re-evaluate your life? Were you able to spend extra time with your family and teach your kids about budgeting?
#Don’t burn bridges: Resist being frustrated with your employer. They could be a reference for your next job or may hire you for part-time work. Stay professional, even if others don’t do the same.
#Buy yourself some space: Negotiate a severance package. Check with HR how compensation is calculated for unused holidays. Request a later date of termination and delayed visa cancellation. This gives you time to stay in the UAE and look for another job.
Step 2: Prepare a budget for the blow
You’ll hopefully be unemployed for only a short time, but cutting down on your spending never hurts. If you get a job quickly, you would’ve collected some savings for the next contingency.
#Take stock: Tally up monthly expenses and create a survival budget to get a sense of how long your savings can keep you afloat. Divide your budget into weekly increments so it’s easier to stick to.
#Cut back: An obvious move – look for expenses you can eliminate. Consider cancelling cable, movie subscriptions; Reducing data and cell phone plans. Try to car pool if possible.
#Family on board: Your children don’t have to understand the minutia of finances and debts to appreciate the importance of cutting back. Get them to participate. Maybe your spouse can pitch in with part-time/full-time work for a while.
Step 3: Handle payments
It’s never wise to let bills go unpaid, but if you’re in a money crunch, know which ones to pay first. Your priorities are – rent or mortgage, utility, food, and health.
#Don’t pay off debts right away: The psychological weight of debts often tempts people to pay them off and shut accounts. But most financial experts recommend against this. Not only are you dipping into survival savings, but if you need more money you won’t get a new loan – since your credit worthiness is compromised without a job.
#Call your creditors: This may seem counter-intuitive, however it’s better to be upfront with your lender. They are more likely to help if you’re honest, before missing a payment. Consider discussing minimum or freezing payments for a few months. Also check if your current loan can be restructured to make payments more affordable.
Step 4: Say goodbye to your unemployed status
How you respond in the wake of a job-loss sets you apart from others when it comes to finding a new job. A proactive and positive mindset will make all the difference in how lucky you get at unlucky times.
#Don’t overspend for a job search: You don’t need an expensive haircut or new shoes to impress at interviews. Be wise with what you spend on and focus on the bigger picture.
#Find part time work: Stretch your savings by getting temporary work. Your hobbies and interests may also offer possibilities for generating income. But remember – your primary agenda is to find a new job. Temporary work should allow time and flexibility to do that.
#Network smartly: Skip frivolous outings in exchange for meetings with potential employers or people who can refer you – And always have your resume handy.