Unemployment is disorienting and sometimes hard to navigate, to say the least. Not only does the change in routine make it hard to get your bearings, but the negative feelings that come up after losing a job can make it hard to figure out what steps to take.
Still, even though no one ever wants to have to worry about getting back on track after losing work, the sooner you start making the right moves, the faster you will minimize the negative effects of unemployment so you can focus on finding a new job.
Read on to learn our helpful tips on what steps to take immediately after you lose your job so you can stay afloat during unemployment.
1. Apply for Unemployment Benefits ASAP
It can be a shock to go from getting a regular paycheck to nothing at all, and this can be particularly scary if you have no savings to back you up. This is why you need to apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible after you lose a job.
The rules for filing weekly unemployment claims vary depending where you live. However, there are certain general criteria that you need to meet if you want to claim benefits.
One of the most important requirements for unemployment is that you must be unemployed (or working reduced hours) through no fault of your own.
This means that if you were let go because of bad work performance or inappropriate behavior, you may not be able to receive benefits. If you were let go as part of a mass layoff or your department was downsized, etc. then you may still be able to receive unemployment assistance.
It is important to remember that your benefits will depend on your previous wages, as well as the criteria for each state, so it is wise to check your unemployment claim status regularly and report anything that looks incorrect. If you are receiving too much money because of a clerical error, for example, you may have to pay it back eventually.
Most people will be eligible to claim for between 26 and 39 weeks, but this money will not be paid if you fail to file a weekly unemployment claim, which includes details on your availability to work, any income and any job offers you have refused.
2. Calculate How Strict Your Budget Needs to Be
If you have lost your income, it goes without saying that you will need to rethink your budget. Depending on any savings, you may need to be quite strict when doing so.
One of the first things you should do is calculate your income and expenditures, including any benefits you may be receiving. Make sure to differentiate between essentials like rent and non-essentials, like eating out at restaurants.
This process can be made easier through the use of a free budgeting tool which can help you track your monthly spending and avoid going over your budget.
There are a variety of smartphone spending apps that can provide great budget help and even deliver notifications to your device every time you make a purchase. One great example is Mint, which comes as one of the top recommended budget helpers at present.
Additionally, you may decide to compare some of the free online budgeting tools using websites such as Nerdwallet, which give you the pros and cons of each as well as laying out the features to make selecting one much simpler.
3. Consider Side Work While You Focus on Your Main Job Search
The internet offers people a wealth of opportunities for earning money, and this can be especially useful when you find yourself out of work. While your main job search should remain a priority, searching side hustles on Reddit or signing up to a part-time job website can bring you that much-needed extra cash.
Some of the best remote part-time jobs include being a virtual assistant, online customer services and creating online content. For the most part, these jobs require few qualifications and allow you to work around your job search.
Additionally, there are a wealth of delivery services that continually require drivers and applying to be an UberEats delivery driver is an excellent way to earn a little extra to keep you afloat. In some cases, you may need to take on more than one side job until you get yourself back on your feet.
These virtual part-time jobs will, however, need to be declared when filing for unemployment as not doing so could leave you with a hefty fee or have you charged with benefits fraud.
4. Try to Reduce Your Monthly Debt Payments
If you are without a job, there may be ways to reduce your monthly debts. One of the initial steps to take would be to contact your lenders or loan servicers and find out how to lower your payments temporarily.
Some companies may be compassionate and cooperative when you lose your job. They may lower your monthly payments or even allow you to go into forbearance or deferment. In the case of student loans, these two options can completely eliminate your monthly payments for the time being.
The type of debts you have will depend on how you tackle this. Your mortgage is something that must take priority, and a debt counseling service will be able to help you think through your options. When looking at debt counseling options, opt for free services whenever possible. There are certified nonprofits that will help you learn about budgeting, contacting your lenders and other essential steps to take.
Additionally, these organizations may help you come up with a free debt management plan by taking a holistic look at your financial situation and helping you come up with a payment plan that suits you, freeing up more cash for your daily needs.
This can make it so that you do not have to resort to more drastic measures to make ends meet, such as taking out a high-interest loan or withdrawing cash from a retirement account.
Finally, you may be able to access a nonprofit credit counseling service, many of which can be found at credit unions and other community organizations.