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Laid off from job, now what?

Updated on May 29, 2012

Cut back on your monthly bills

Get rid of your smartphone and sign up for a less expensive call and text plan.
Get rid of your smartphone and sign up for a less expensive call and text plan.
Switch from a high-priced cable plan to an over-the-air antenna.
Switch from a high-priced cable plan to an over-the-air antenna.
Stop paying for the fancy labels and sleek marketing and buy generic food brands instead.
Stop paying for the fancy labels and sleek marketing and buy generic food brands instead.

Being laid off from your job or knowing that it is likely to occur can take a heavy emotional and physical toll on a person. I remember when I was laid off, the first thought in my mind was, “what am I going to do now?”

For weeks afterward I think I went through all five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I had countless sleepless nights, suffered terrible headaches and lower back pain, which I contributed to the weight of the world suddenly on my shoulders.

But, I maintained hope and a belief that a higher power was trying to give me the push and motivation I needed to refocus my life and that better things were on the horizon. My only regret was not being smart enough to use the time I had while bringing home a steady paycheck to develop skills that I could use to start a new career path in the event I lost my job.

It’s not too late for me, or you, to start taking the steps to make getting laid off a little less stressful.

Things you can do if you believe that you could be laid off
Start taking college courses or work toward a new degree. For example, I was a newspaper page designer with a bachelors degree in journalism. I was always interested in going back to school and getting a degree in graphic design, which would open many more doors in marketing, public relations and other careers which need graphic designers. I also considered becoming a teacher and obtain a degree in elementary education. I should have acquired more skills or sought another degree.

The more skills you possess the more valuable you will be in the job market. Do everything you can to get an edge over the millions of other people who are unemployed.

It seems today that there are very little fields that have job stability so get working on a backup plan in case your position is eliminated.

Things to do after being laid off
Take a deep breath and start weighing your options. Are there any job opportunities where you currently live? Is there a chance you’ll have to move? How much of a rainy day fund do you have saved to help you make ends meet until you find work? If you’re married, does your spouse make enough money that you don’t have to work for awhile, or if you have children is it possible for you to become a stay-at-home parent? A lot of companies offer severance packages to employees who have been laid off. The severance is typically based on how long you’ve worked for the company. In my case, I got four months salary.

Once you know whether you will receive a severance, go down to your local unemployment office and see what you are entitled to receive and for how long. Receiving your severance and signing up for unemployment payments will help you keep afloat financially for awhile.

These are all things that you will have to mull over, but let me give you some every day things or lifestyle changes to help cut down on monthly bills and expenses.

Cut the cable cord: Get rid of your cable TV service. I know having more than 1,000 HD channels, including HBO and Showtime, and a DVR is awesome, but if you buy a decent antenna you can get all the major networks, including a few others completely for free over the air. However, keep your Internet service. You will need easy access to the Web to search for new jobs and email to communicate with potential employers.

Hang up your smart phones and data plans: Let me ask you this, do you really need to check your email, post a status on Facebook and surf the Internet while waiting in line at Taco Bell? Gadgets such as iPhones, Droids, Blackberries and other high-tech gizmos are luxury items that you don’t need. Sign up for a plan that offers a good calling and text service instead. You will save a lot of money.

Leave the name brands on the shelf: Trim your grocery budget by buying generic brands instead of the overpriced, heavily marketed merchandise. For example, A regular 10.5 ounce bag of Lay’s potato chips can cost more than $3. However, the same size bag of Great Value chips can be purchased for under $2. Same chips, same great taste but with Lay’s you’re paying extra because of the label. This is just one example, there are many products that you can get for a lot less by choosing to not be tricked into thinking that the fancy ad slogans and logos make those products better.

You can put those same shopping habits into your wardrobe. When is the last time you’ve ever been to a Salvation Army thrift store or any other place that sells used or donated clothing. You can find a lot of great stuff for a fraction of what you would pay at the mall. Go to a few garage sales one weekend and see what people are selling. You would be surprised how easy it is to build a nice collection of work clothes at goodwill and thrift stores and garage sales. Just be sure to give the clothes a good washing before you wear them.

Entertain for less: Everybody enjoys going out to dinner and seeing a movie at the local multiplex every now and then. And just because you're unemployed that doesn't mean that you can't do those things anymore, but be smarter about it. Turn date night into date afternoon to early evening. Go to a matinee where movie ticket prices can be half the price of later showings. Then, after the show head to your favorite restaurant to take advantage of its early bird specials, they're just not for senior citizens. Plus, by going to an early dinner you will have lots of time to enjoy happy hour.

Having fun doesn’t have to have a price tag: I think people sometimes forget that having fun doesn’t have to cost anything. There are lots of activities that you can do that doesn’t require a stop at the ATM. Spend the day at a park, take a hike or walk along a scenic path, play Frisbee golf. I could go on but you get the point. There’s no price tag on enjoying life.

Making big lifestyle changes is hard and frustrating because you’ve grown accustomed to living a certain way. Don’t let vanity and pride get in the way of being sensible and financially smart.

Good luck. I hope this helps others who have been laid off.

And don't go all Milton Waddams on your former workplace


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      Sara 5 years ago

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      cptnrg 5 years ago

      This is a good set of guidelines to use. My wife is coming up on two years without steady income after losing her job, and we have done many of the things you've listed here. Another thing to think about if you have teenagers in the home is to get a landline phone again. They can talk their ears off, and we don't have to worry about blowing the budget because lowered cell phone minute packages that often come with dumping a smart phone and data plan. And we're amazed at how far we can stretch our food budget by sale and coupon shopping in addition to going to one of the big box stores to buy groceries. One more -- if you have a freezer, lay down some dollars and stock up on a variety of meats so you don't have to lay out for that burger or chicken you enjoy on the summer grill. By buying in bulk, you can save a lot per pound (bonus, the meat is often better quality thru a meat market), then you can restock the freezer when you come across a smoking deal at a local grocery store.

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      jm72writes 5 years ago from Missouri

      This was an informative hub. I especially liked the money-saving tips you included. Those are beneficial to everyone, even if you have a job.