Completely out of your control, things happen. You get a great job after military service and the position evaporates. Or perhaps, your supposed job does not materialize after your service. You learned how to take immediate actions in difficult combat situations. Now you must look for a job and protect your finances, simultaneously. It is time to harden your financial security posture. To make your survival easier, here are some immediate actions in ABC order:
- Acquire unemployment benefits. No time for pride here. Many laid-off workers overlook their eligibility, others are too proud. There is no cookbook for this. Every state’s unemployment procedure is different. Most states have employment assistance centers and websites. Get to them immediately.
- Budget/Cut Expenses. Frivolity must halt. Spa treatments, shopping sprees, car detailing and dinners out must come to a stop. Happy hour with the guys is over for a bit. Instead, you need to create a budget that brings expenses in line with savings (and unemployment, if applicable). You must preserve any extra cash.
- Consider COBRA and TRICARE eligibility. COBRA is expensive, yet it allows workers to extend their health benefits after they’ve ended their employment. You may very well be responsible for 100% of your coverage during this period. However, if still eligible, TRICARE under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) is good for up to 180 days and may be a better value. Do the research and find the right choice for you and your family.
- Downsize your credit card payments. Start paying minimums on your credit cards. Generally considered a bad idea, but in critical financial times pay the minimum. This will help you to pay other bills while maintaining your credit rating. Remember, paying minimums will take longer to pay off balances. Watch your total balances due, as well as credit limits so you do not exceed them.
- Engage your creditors. Upon learning of your layoff, it’s a good idea to contact your creditors (mortgage lender, auto lender, etc.). Inform them that you will attempt to make payments, but your financial situation is about to become wobbly. Depending on the company you work with, and any plans or insurance coverages you’ve obtained, you may be able to work out a deal to decrease or stop payments temporarily.
- Find Online Jobs/Take Less Pay. Companies are hiring stay-at-home workers in increasing volume. If you have a significant skill, apply for jobs/gigs that will allow you to work from home. This way, you can save on gas and clothes while still bringing in an income. If you do decide to work out of the home, don’t be afraid to accept employment that offers less pay. Also, you might even try temp work so that won’t leave you feeling obligated to stay somewhere you don’t want to.
- Garage Sale. Most of us have items laying around we don’t use anymore. Take this opportunity to clean out the clutter and increase your savings without leaving the house!
- Head Back to School. The post 9/11 GI Bill is an excellent way to not only get an education, there is also tremendous assistance with the associated stipend. This immediate action will help you now and in the future by strengthen your resume. Additionally, you will be able to network with folks and find out other information about the job market and potential jobs.
- Inspiration and Imagination! It is important to keep a positive attitude. Use this time to read and learn how to inspire yourself and others. Get to know your family better. Use your imagination to come up with ideas for free activities you and your family will enjoy.
- Just do it. Save money everywhere. Coupon, go to deep discount stores. Find the least expensive dentist. Have a friend or family member cut or dye your hair.
- Keep up your fitness program. Do not compromise. It is so important for your physical and mental health.
Everyone dreads being laid off, but it is a reality for millions. You will survive the layoff. Believe in yourself, go back to basics and use these immediate action drills. Harden for survival – come out victorious!