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What to Do If You Lose Your Job? 7 Ways To Get Back On Your Feet

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No one wants to hear the unfortunate news that they no longer have a job to go to anymore. The unemployment rate is 4.1% (as of December 2017) which means 6.6 million people are out of work.

The average time of unemployment lasts over six weeks depending on the industry. That’s a long time without any money coming in.

Whatever the reason behind the job loss, one starts wondering “what’s next”? Here are 7 things you can do when you lose your job:

1. Apply for Unemployment Benefits

Apply for unemployment benefits in your state as quickly as possible. This avoids any processing and paperwork delays as well as shortens the time without any incoming money.

There are several requirements you need to meet before you qualify for unemployment benefits in the United States:

  • You lost the job due to no fault of your own (layoff, closings, downsizing, etc.). If you were fired or you quit, you’re not eligible to receive benefits.
  • You meet your State’s requirement for time worked or wages earned. To find the different requirements, look up your state on this map.
  • You must be actively seeking employment. (Some states allow you to collect benefits while training for a high-demand job).

What you’ll need to start your application:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Information on the last employment you were let go from. (A pink slip helps here)
  • List of all former places you were employed at
  • A current State photo I.D.

Other information you’ll need for your application varies by state so it’s best to check your state’s .gov page.

2. Work Part-Time

While you are waiting for your unemployment benefits to begin, and while you’re seeking a full-time position – get a part-time job.

Working part-time can be crucial to staying on top of your monthly bills and prevent you from going into deeper debt.

Some states will reduce your unemployment check by a percentage (or a set amount) for every dollar you earn over a set limit, and other states will let you earn a certain amount from part-time work as a supplement to your check before they reduce the amount.

When you earn money over the benefit’s limit,  you won’t receive your check that week, but this just means you have an extra week of unemployment benefits.

Just remember, having a part-time job is not something to be ashamed of. You may gain some experience that will help you in the long run, or it can open the way for a full-time position in the same company.

3. Enact a Spending Freeze

Now would be a great time to start a spending freeze. You’ll need to save as much money as you can because you don’t know how long it will take to find another job, or when your unemployment benefits will begin or how long they’ll last.

A simple explanation of a spending freeze is to completely stop all of your unnecessary spending – eating out, entertainment, splurges, and other extras you find in your budget – for a set period of time.

This will be uncomfortable to do but desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. Turn the uncomfortableness of this spending freeze into a propellant to work harder and faster to gain that full-time job.

4. Start a Side Hustle

Start a side hustle or two to bring in some money while searching for full-time work. The types of side hustles can vary widely on what and where you want to start one – online, in person, on your smartphone, creating stuff, selling stuff and even renting stuff.

The easiest side hustle to bring in money is on your smartphone with Money Making Apps and by answering surveys. These two activities done regularly can bring in hundreds of dollars a month.

Why not make a little cash while sitting in waiting rooms before job interviews? It might help with the nervousness too.

A great place to find online work is through a freelancing site like Upwork. It’s free to create a profile and bid on projects and they only charge a small fee after the project is completed.

There are projects ranging from blog writing and graphic design to virtual assisting and voiceover work.

More ideas you can do from home to earn money are listed in this article. Who knows, you may find a great fit and make enough money to not need a full-time job outside the home.

5. Return to School

In the off chance you don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, (or your state approves benefits while training), returning to school is a great option to pursue.

You can obtain further training in your current career field or decide to try something completely different. Attending a college does not have to be expensive (and in some cases – free).

Don’t be too hasty to jump into this option quickly. Do your research on the right school, what your chosen job field’s outlook will be, and the financial burden this will be for you and your family. If all possibilities are optimistic then by all means go for it!

6. Downsize

If you’ve done all the above and still are having trouble finding suitable work and money is getting tight, you may need to consider downsizing.

I’m not talking about changing your cable package to get less channels to save money. That should’ve been done in your budget a long time ago as well as during the spending freeze.

I mean a drastic downsizing:

A Smaller Place

You may need to find a cheaper or smaller place to live to save money. A smaller place means saving on mortgage and rent payments; lower property taxes and home insurance; having lower utility bills; and in the process of moving – less stuff (which can be sold for some needed cash).

If you have an investment property that you’re renting out, you can do two things – sell it or switch houses (live in the smaller place while renting out the bigger one for a higher profit.

A Smaller Car

Consider a smaller more economical car to drive. This will save on gasoline and insurance. If you’re the typical “2 car family”, then downsize to one car. An even more drastic measure would be to sell the car altogether and use public transit.

Fewer Amenities

Sell off your amenities – whatever “extras” you own will need to be sold off for money to live on. Any extra properties and vehicles such as a timeshare, boat, ATV, and so on, will help you more with their cash value than sitting in your backyard.

I know this is an extreme step but it is necessary when all other options have not panned out.

7. Relocate

The last step you may need to take when you lose your job and the area you are living in doesn’t offer much in employment opportunities, is to relocate.

The advantages of relocating are:

  • More opportunities – A bigger city may provide more job opportunities to apply to.
  • Better income – Applying to a job in your career field but in a different place may provide a larger salary than your previous job.
  • Lower costs – A different city can give you a lower cost of living and help you save money overall.
  • Fresh start – Moving away from your comfort zone and making a fresh start somewhere new can rejuvenate you overall.

Whether you’re moving to the next city over, across state, or even across country, it’ll improve your chances of employment, financially, and even emotionally and mentally.

Losing a job can have a big impact on your life, but with determination, a positive attitude, and diligent work on these steps it won’t be a long period before your new paycheck comes in.

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