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12 Tips on Surviving a Job Loss

Updated on November 26, 2012

Downsized, laid off, fired? What do I do now? Help!

Corporate America can be harsh. Regardless of your job title: Mailroom Clerk or Executive Director, there is no promise or security in the job markets. Millions of people have found that out the hard way. Don’t assume just because you are loyal, or that you’ve been with your company for several years, that it can’t happen to you.

If you’ve lost your job, first off, take a deep breath and access what’s just happened. This could turn out to be an opportunity to land a better job or a new career. Don’t make any hasty financial or emotional decisions that could cause you to regret later. Far too many people ‘do now’ and ‘think later.’

So how can you financially survive a job loss? The following are 12 tips to make it through a rough period of time for you and your family.

1. Start Looking for Work Immediately
Don’t assume you’ll find a job and decide not to look for a job right away while taking a mini at-home vacation. Tap into your resources. Search for job leads. Ask around – friends, neighbors, the mail man, the UPS truck delivery man, the grocery bag clerk, whoever. Usually, somebody that knows somebody else can provide you with some kind of lead.

Spend a whole day and do nothing but sign up for employment at temporary agencies. Or spend a whole day on career sites like:,,, or You can also type in the word ‘Jobs’ in the search engine of Google and you’ll find several online job resources. Phone, Email, and fax your resume to those jobs you think you qualify for.

2. File for Unemployment Benefits
If you were fired or laid off, you likely qualify for unemployment benefits. Contact the US Department of Labor site: File a claim for unemployment insurance benefits under the state you live in. In some states, you can look forward to receiving a check in a few weeks, but it may take longer.

3. Weigh Your Health care Options
As far as health care is concerned, most companies will still offer healthcare 30 days after termination. After this period of time, you may be eligible for COBRA, which is a federal program that may allow you to continue group-plan coverage for up to 18 months and in some situations as long as 36 months. However, this indeed will be at a higher cost to you, then you were paying, but it is still an option if you would like to keep your health insurance.

If you are 65 years or older you are automatically eligible for Medicare. Click here for more information:

You may qualify for Medicaid or another health insurance for low income called CHIP. Contact your local state office or locate your state by clicking here:

For more healthcare options, visit Health to get updated information on other health care and pricing options for you or your family.

4. Reassess Your Career
Do you really want to continue to work in the field you were currently working in? Are you qualified to work in a different field? Do you have skills that would be better equipped in a different job? Could you afford to go back to school to pick up a new trade? Many schools offer job placements while going back to school. There are also financial assistant available for people who do go back to school.

5. Start Your Own Business
At age 50, Jane Adams had a high-paying job with a Fortune 500 company. She was employed for 19 years. She was devastated when she lost her job due to corporate downsizing. She ended up starting her own flower shop. It had always been her hobby and she turned it into a business that is very profitable. She’s excited when she tells people that she makes more now then she ever did at as an Executive Director.

Because the job market is not secure, many launch out and start there own businesses. There are many tax benefits, it’s flexible and you are your own boss. What skills, hobbies, education, something you’re good at or experience do you have that you could start up a business with? There are thousands of ‘Start your own business’ opportunities on the web, but be leery, because some are scams or just a waste of money.

Search and type home business in there search engine. Or visit the public library and search the many books on starting your own home business. The 200 Best Home Businesses: Easy To Start, Fun To Run, Highly Profitable by Katina Z. Jones, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business (2nd Edition) by Barbara Weltman are among some good books to start with.

6. Dip Into Your Retirement Fund, 401(k) or Insurance Policy (This is definitely a last resort.)
A cash value life insurance policy is an excellent source of liquidity, if you’ve build up enough cash in the policy.

On the other hand, you could take from your retirement plan or 401(k). However, be aware of restrictions, penalties fees and income taxes that will need to be paid on the withdrawal amount at the end of the year. This should be done only if you really need the money. Typically, you can cash out, roll the money over to your new employer, or roll the money to an (IRA) individual retirement account. Check out your options with your last employer or the investment company your retirement plan is with.

7. Consider Government Assistance or Private Assistance
Local food drives are in every community. The Emergency Food Assistance Program, better known as ‘Food Stamps’, Housing Vouchers, Cash assistance are all aid from the government. Any of these programs can be explained and applied for at your local county building. The following is an excellent site for information on various government assistance program located in each state: . Click on ‘locate benefits by state’.

8. Spend Wisely, Consolidate Debts, Work with a Credit Counseling Service and Defer Payments
Many receive a severance package when laid off. Prioritize and spend that money very wisely. Depending on the type of bill, you could be eligible for a deferment or extension of a month or two. If you don’t ask, you won’t know what is available to you.

Are there some bills you can do without temporarily? For example: Your cable; lawn service; doggy daycare; high speed internet; cut out eating out all together, etc.

Could you tap into the equity in your home, or refinance to pay off credit card debts, a car payment or other bills? Mortgage companies may offer an option to defer your mortgage payments, but be assured that you will be charged fees. To minimize debt burden you could also contact a credit counseling service.

9. Contact a Financial Planner
Certified Financial Planners will usually collect a client’s data (check stubs, checking & credit statements, titles for homes, tax returns, insurance policies, etc.), prioritize your financial goals, examine resources, make recommendations and implement a financial plan according to your needs. To find qualified financial planners in you area, call Financial Planning Association at 1-800-322-4237 or search online at:

10. Have a Garage Sale
Need some extra money while looking for a job? This one may sound strange, but after you think about it, it just may be an excellent idea. Everyone has junk or stuff they would like to give away, pawn or get rid of. Go through your closet, garage, whatever.

You don’t have anything to sale? Well, what about placing a small ad in the newspaper or post a flyer in your community/neighborhood asking anyone if they have any stuff or junk they would like to get rid of? If so, drive and pick it up for free. Place there stuff or junk in your garage sale and make some extra money.

11. Think Creatively
Don’t focus on the fact that you don’t have a job. Focus on looking for a job or on ways to make some extra money until you can find a job. Could you shovel someone’s snow for them? Could you mow someone’s lawn? Could you babysit a neighbor’s child? Could you run some errands for someone? Could you take on a seasonal part-time job?

If you are renting, could you temporarily move in with a family or friend until you get back on your feet? Could you have someone move in with you? Don’t neglect your local community newspaper. Many people place odd or temporary jobs in those papers. Could your spouse or partner take on more hours at his or her job? Could your teenager or another adult in your family perhaps help out financially? Think outside the box and stay focused on finding a job.

12. Stay Positive
So what does this have to do with surviving a job loss? A lot. Staying positive will help you maintain persistence, faith, and staying on the grind. Stressing out is not going to find you a job, but appearing positive definitely looks good in a job interview. Read positive books, listen to positive audio CD’s.

Stay optimistic. Picture yourself in your mind finding the job you want. This may sound like a waste of time, but it helps tremendously. You may get a job over someone else, simply because the hiring manager thought you appeared more uplifting and positive then the last women or man he interviewed.

In summary, a job loss is serious business, and the stress from it could see overwhelming and frustrating. This is especially true if you have mouths to feed. Don’t give up. You can survive a job loss financially. There is a job out there for you or at least another source of income. Be wise, think clearly, and take advantage of all your resources.


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