What would you do if you lost your job today?
It is the course of wisdom to be prepared.
Losing a job carries a financial as well as an emotional impact.
Therefore, more is involved than simply paying the bills.
Following are some guidelines that have helped others to keep financially and emotionally stable when faced with the loss of a job.
1. Do not panic
When Dominick lost his job, he had to give his house back to the bank and move his family in with his mother.
His advice is to remain calm, no matter how extreme the situation may appear.
“Job or no job, you won’t dry up and blow away,” he says. “I honestly had to learn that we weren’t all going to die.”
Rather than flooding the mind with worst-case scenarios, calmly work at productive solutions.
2. Think positive
Jim and Donna have four part-time jobs between them.
However, they earn less than Jim alone earned at his previous full-time job.
In spite of this, they have accepted it as a teaching experience for their five children.
“Without the problems they’d have been better off in a material way. But they’d have missed the pitfalls that teach you how to live.”
3. Open your mind to new types of work
Even white-collar workers can choose to change professions and start over in new work.
“People don’t look at alternatives until they are forced to,” said Laura, who was fired from an administrative job.
“This days,” she noted, “people have to learn to be more flexible.”
Trying to get the same type of work you are accustomed to—or the same pay—may only weaken your chances of finding work.
This may at least partially explain why it often takes white-collar workers longer to find work than it takes blue-collar workers.
So open your mind to the possibility of new types of work.
Many have had success offering some kind of service to others, such as house cleaning.
4. Live within your means
A powerful tool in advertising is to create a “need” that did not previously exist.
Often you are made to feel that everyone else (except you) is informed and acting upon that need.
‘This is the style everyone is wearing [except you].’
‘The movie everyone is talking about [so why haven’t you seen it?].’
‘The car everyone is driving [when will you buy it?].’
Similar persuasion may affect how we view and spend money.
A friend takes an expensive trip.
Suddenly you need a vacation.
Another friend purchases a new car.
Suddenly your car seems old, inadequate.
Becoming envious of what everyone else is doing will only make you spend money you do not have, buying things you do not really need.
Avoid such self-defeating comparisons.
Jim, the laid-off worker mentioned earlier, observed:
“People crash when they can’t maintain the lifestyle they think they want. You only need to worry about food and shelter. The rest is truly irrelevant.”
5. Keep the family united
In a survey of 86,000 people, more than a third said that money was the number one problem in their marriage.
Another study found that money caused the most fights.
“Differing attitudes toward money can strain relationships,” said financial consultant Grace Weinstein.
Even a seemingly close-knit couple may have widely different views of money and how it should be spent.
One may be a fanatical saver, the other a voracious spender.
If not talked out, money matters can snowball into family fights.
And while discussing financial matters, try to understand and accommodate your mate’s views.
6. Keep your self-esteem
Grace Weinstein noted:
For the man or woman who is no longer earning an income, there is the emotional problem of diminished status and reduced independence, both resulting in loss of self-esteem.”
Do not quickly conclude that you were laid off because you were not valued as a worker.
Twenty-nine-year-old Rani was laid off just three weeks after receiving the highest possible raise in her level at her annual review.
While being an honest, trustworthy worker may keep a person from being laid off, this is not always the case.
So one need not take being laid off as a personal affront to his worth.
Valued, reliable workers may be affected too.
7. Set up a budget
Many cringe at the idea of a budget.
They feel that it represents confinement, something that will restrict them from buying what they want. Not so.
A budget is a tool to help you achieve your goals, not restrict you.
It is simply a system of control, a laid-out plan to tell you where your money is going and how to make it go where you want it to.
Surprisingly, many have no idea just where their money is being spent.
Instead, they fall victim to impulse buying and then lament: “Where did it all go?”
The need for avoiding such spending is especially important when times are difficult financially.
To follow this advice, keep a written record.
Write down everything you spend for an entire month, categorizing your expenses.
Also, keep a record of how much money is coming in.
If you find that more is flowing out than is coming in, look at your expenses to find the source of the problem.
Once you know what you spend and where you spend it, you can gain control of your finances.
Keep your budget flexible.
In the first few months, mistakes will be discovered, and some expenses may be overlooked.
Make adjustments and corrections until the budget fits your needs.
A good budget will thus be your servant, not your master.
8. Something more vital than a job
Accepting the transitory nature of jobs is easier said than done. Why?
“Money is the universal measure,” notes Psychology Today regarding common attitudes toward money.
“We keep score by it, often even to ourselves.”
The obsession with acquiring money has led even those with good jobs to suffer chronic anxiety, depression, and other ills that have been humorously grouped under the catchy name "affluenza"
But there is something more vital than money.
Wisdom includes the ability to exercise sound judgment when we are confronted with challenging circumstances.
When we are faced with job loss, sound judgment should tell us that life’s true value is not measured in dollars and cents.
Sound judgment will also help us to keep our priorities straight, in focus.
What do you put first in life?
Is your job worth more than your marriage?
Is your home worth more than your children?
Is money worth more than your health?
Each day we make decisions based on our incentive system, our priorities.
When faced with financial problems, such priorities will dictate our course of action.
What are your priorities centered on?