A good friend of mine asked for my advice on a financial issue her family is facing.
She, her husband, and their baby girl had been living in a town that they loved, surrounded by lots of family and friends. They built a beautiful house, and thought they would stay in this area forever.
Until her husband got an offer to move to a different state to pursue an exciting career opportunity.
Even though they hated to leave their family, friends, and beloved town, they made the leap. That was 6 months ago.
Then he was laid off.
Naturally, they are upset that this opportunity didn’t pan out, and that they are now far away from the support of their family and friends.
They’re scared, which is very understandable! They need to take care of their family while he’s looking for a new job.
In order to help my friend, I came up with a number of suggestions for her and her family.
Here are my first 5 tips for regrouping after a job loss:
1) DON’T PANIC!
When my husband and I were vacationing along the East Coast this summer, we saw many warning signs about rip currents. The signs taught us that in order to escape a rip current, the first step is: DON’T PANIC! The next step is to swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of this fairly narrow current.
Losing your job is shocking, scary, and may seem like the end of the world. It’s like you’ve suddenly realized you’re in a rip current – your 5 year plan for your career seems to be quickly getting further away.
Take a deep breath and realize others have been here before you and have come out the other side just fine – sometimes even better for the experience because they’ve had to get creative.
Now, start swimming parallel to the shore. Start re-visioning ways you can get paid to do what you had been doing. Can you become a consultant in your field instead of working in the same office each day? Or can you think about your field upside down or backwards and come up with a new service you can offer?
This also might be a great opportunity to start that business you’ve been dreaming about!
2) Fiscal Fitness
Examine your monthly expenses to see what you can cut. You’re looking for “luxury items” that you pay for each month that might seem like necessities but aren’t. You may consider cutting out cable, large cell phone plans, magazine subscriptions, gym membership, daily coffee runs, eating out, music subscriptions, clothes shopping, and dry cleaning (most items can be dry cleaned at home using special kits available for sale in Walmart), to name a few. Just stick to essential expenses for right now, and try to avoid large expenses, if possible.
An important point to note is that this cutting back is just temporary!
Don’t get discouraged thinking that you’ll never be able to watch your favorite cooking shows on the Food Network ever again! Once you’re back on your feet, you can add back in expenses that you missed.
Don’t be surprised, though, if you find that while you may miss cable when you first cut it, after a while you may find a peace in your life without it. You may have extra time in your day to read, pick up a favorite craft, or spend time with your family. When you get a new job, you may make the decision not to get cable again – and that’s ok!
3) Don’t seclude yourself in your house!
Don’t completely cut out your entertainment budget. This may seem like a complete contradiction of the tip directly above, but hear me out. This time is probably scary and frustrating, and you can’t job search 24/7 – you need to keep your sanity!
Maybe you don’t buy the expensive concert tickets, go out to fancy dinners, or go to the movies every week. Your entertainment budget will be much smaller right now, but that just means that you have the opportunity to get creative so that your money goes further!
Here are some ideas to use with your new entertainment budget: enjoy a picnic dinner with your family at a local park, find discount movie tickets, rent a $1 movie from Redbox, eat dinner at home and go out to ice cream, find discount meal coupons to a favorite restaurant, look for free activities in your area (like outdoor movies during the summer, festivals, etc.) and frequent those, and suggest a pot luck game night with your friends.
4) Your local public library
When you’re cutting expenses, if you find that you have to cut out the internet, remember that there are lots of places that offer free Wi-Fi these days.
Even though Starbucks, Panera, and Barnes & Noble offer free Wi-Fi, I recommend checking out your local library. They will not only provide you with free Wi-Fi for your job searching needs, but tell them about your situation, and a librarian will be able to direct you to other resources to help with your search.
5) Your health is your most important asset
Maintaining your family’s health is so important! I know it may be tempting to buy only noodles and beans & rice for your family, but you don’t want to run the risk of lowering your resistance to colds and other ailments. You need to bring your A game – staying healthy will help you do that.
Buy good quality food on sale! Look at the sale flyers that the grocery store sends around each week and find the healthy and nutritious items on sale. Build a menu for the week around those sale items, and write down your shopping list. When you go to the store only buy the items on your shopping list!
Stay tuned for more tips on regrouping after a job loss. In the meantime, try to keep a positive attitude – everything is working out. You may not see how right now, but one day soon you’ll look back on this experience and see that the path worked perfectly.
Have you or someone you know ever been in a job loss situation? If so, what did you do that helped you recover? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Fun fact for today – The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has two facilities – one in Washington, DC and the other in Fort Worth, TX. Together, they use 9.7 tons of ink each day! (Source: http://www.federalreserveeducation.org/about-the-fed/structure-and-functions/financial-services/fun_facts.cfm)
PS My friend just told me that her husband accepted a new job today! How exciting!