Question: Every day I read about more layoffs, and I’m afraid my time is coming. What can I do?
Answer: Today’s column and several future columns will offer suggestions for how to handle your finances and how to keep yourself upbeat and fully functioning if you are facing a job transition. I suggest that you read Katy Piotrowski’s "On the Job" column in Sunday’s Coloradoan for excellent tips about finding your next and hopefully best job.
If, in fact, you do receive notice that your job is being eliminated, take a deep breath and count the positives in your life – family, friends, health, skills and interests. Just as Barbara O’Neill mentioned in a past column, when you face a crisis, just being alive is worth celebrating.
The major scare for most people is how to handle everything that your salary has been covering – mortgage payments, food, utilities, car payments, health insurance and so on. Your first challenge is to look at your obligations and do a transitional budget. Include everyone in your family in the discussion. When family members participate, they can offer healthy and positive suggestions for dealing with change. If they are left out, they may respond with fear and anger and create an environment that is tense and energy draining.
A budget or spending plan does not have to be complicated – this transitional budget will not last forever. Start by listing basic categories that you must fund. The categories may include food, housing, personal care, gas, utilities, gifts, pets and miscellaneous. You should also include something for entertainment. (Future columns will suggest ways to have fun with less money.) Enter how much you are spending now. Now estimate how much income you will have from unemployment insurance, spouse’s paycheck, children’s work and other sources. With this information, you and your family can make intentional choices. Where can you adjust the budget to cover necessary expenses? What is going on in the community that offers low or no-cost entertainment for you and your family?
This is the time to use the creative, resourceful side of your brain. Most of us can do about anything if it won’t last forever. This is a transition challenge that you can successfully address.
I’ll cover unemployment insurance, health insurance, paying your bills and consumer tips in more detail in future columns.