I saw a meme last week that said, “The words ‘Coronavirus is gone’ is starting to sound a lot like ‘You’ve won the lottery!’” From day to day, coronavirus continues to affect our decisions. People have changed how they work, shop, exercise, socialize, and worship. Many businesses are dramatically impacted. Some have closed down permanently, and others are reducing their workforce to offset lost revenue.
It seems more and more likely that the far reaching effects of coronavirus will result in a recession. As the economy is disrupted, unemployment rates increase. Perhaps you have confidence in your job security. Or, like many people, perhaps you don’t.
If you are less confident, here are six actions for you to take now.
- Go through your spending for the last 3 months. Make a list of your expenses, then categorize them as Needs (i.e. Housing, Utilities, Food, Clothing, Transportation) and Wants (i.e. Cable, Eating out, Memberships, Subscriptions). For those items in the Wants category, prioritize which you will cancel/cut out to conserve cash. You can consider less expensive alternatives such as Netflix or Prime in place of cable television.
- Increase your Emergency Fund. Standard advice for emergency savings is 2-6 months of living expenses. To calculate this, multiply your reduced expense list from step one by the number of months you’re targeting. If you’re the single income earner in your home, I highly recommend six months – longer if you are in a senior position or industry with a smaller job market.
- Prepare a list of your creditors and how to contact them. Even if you have sufficient savings to carry you through several months of payments, be proactive about communicating a potential layoff with them. Many creditors may offer modified payment plans during unemployment. Know your options.
- Research your state’s unemployment benefits. Different states permit a different duration of unemployment usually between 12-26 weeks. The pandemic driven CARES act extends these benefits for up to 13 weeks.
- Determine if your company offers salary continuation for displacements. Many corporations will pay you for several weeks or months after termination, if that termination is not related to an ethical violation or poor performance. Note, that unemployment cannot start until salary continuation ends.
- Update your resume and refresh your social media presence. This includes updating profile pictures and experience summaries for public sites like LinkedIn. As a bonus step, think about where else you might like working and reconnect with friends or colleagues already working in those locations. If you don’t have a connection to that company, try forming one through LinkedIn by searching for its Recruiters.
Layoffs can be frightening. Just like coronavirus, a job displacement puts a spotlight on our inability to fully control our lives. The one thing we can always control, however, is our reaction to our circumstances. We minimize fear by having a plan and taking action on it. Be wise and stay safe!