David J. Perrotto
7 smart money moves to make after losing your job
Once you have overcome the setback of losing your job, and, for many of us, your main source of income, getting your finances in order can have a calming effect on the chaos of being out of work. The quicker you make a plan, the smoother it will be to prepare and change your circumstances.
Let's face it, being fired, demoted or anything that has a negative impact on your financial state does not have to be a frightening situation. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show a historic decline in unemployment, roughly at 3.9%, this means that chances do exist for you to improve your place in your given career.
While you may be getting your resume updated, and reaching around old friend's for referrals, and interviewing, let's go over some financial area's that can ease your wallet while you are hitting the pavement.
First thing's first, file for unemployment. Right now. This should be the very first thing you do, the day after you lose your job. There usually is a 2 to three week "waiting" period before you get your first check, so the longer you wait, the longer you will not get a check. How do does unemployment insurance figure out how much you will get paid? Well, the amount you receive is based on a percentage of your earnings over the last year, and there is a top limit determined by each state. Here in NY the NYSDOL determines your weekly unemployment benefit amount by dividing your earnings for the highest paid quarter of the base period by 26, at most of $420 per week. While a payment like that is unlikely to replace all your income, it will make a difference if you had no income at all. Also remember, set a reminder to claim your benefits every week. If you do not claim your benefits, you will not get an unemployment check. You can do it on most states websites, such as NY's which is here, or by calling your given states unemployment hotline.
Next, you need to reevaluate your health coverage. If you've been on your employer's healthcare plan, you most likely qualify for a COBRA extension of benefits. What COBRA allows, is for you to keep your health benefits, but with a catch. You'll pay your part and the employer part of the premiums, plus an extra percentage for administration fees. For most people, they can not afford that, so your next step should be to contact an insurance agent, like me, to help you find more affordable health care options. Losing a job is considered a "special enrollment event," so you have the freedom to enroll in a spouse's plan or sign up for a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace and take advantage of tax credits and reduced out-of-pocket expenses. You should do this right after you sign up for unemployment insurance. Seriously, you only have 60 days to make a decision on a new Marketplace policy or COBRA, and even worse you only have 30 days if you sign up for another employment-based plan, such as your spouse's coverage, so make sure this is done quickly. Having some type of insurance is better than no insurance.
What you are probably thinking right now, and it's extremely common, is hey wait a minute, I have a nice nest egg with my 401(k) if there's an emergency I can always dip into that until I get a new job and I'll just double up contributions when I get a new job. Trust me, it might be intriguing to simply cash out your 401(k) when you're feeling the financial pressure of unemployment, but do not do that until you know all your options. Cashing out the retirement savings before you're 59 1/2 means you'll have to pay ordinary income taxes on the money as well as a penalty(usually 10%) for early withdrawal. This could mean half the money you take out would have to be used for taxes, which means if you need 5,000 for the month, it means you would have to take out 10,000, and so forth. Before you do anything with your 401(k), visit a financial advisor, someone like me, to be able to figure out what the best way to maximize the potential of the 401(k).
One thing that will have to be cut out until you get back on your feet is the weekly entertainment. The average American consumers spend nearly $240 per month on entertainment. In New York, if you were on employment, that is half a week of your max benefit. Some items like restaurants and movie theaters will be clear but look carefully for automatic deductions you've set up for subscriptions such as Netflix (Time to jump back on your parents) and Hulu. Be determined. Some services are notoriously difficult to cancel, and you might need to get your credit card company involved to stop the automatic deductions.
With tech being the way it is today, many companies have powerful screeners when you submit your resume online, so it may be a good idea to pay a professional resume writer to review and present your skills, education, and experience on a single page for scanning into prospective employers' applicant tracking systems. Because rates vary depending on the writer's experience and areas of expertise, do your research and get quotes before you hire. every dollar matters at this point. A good place to start is Resume Scripter. Also remember to set money aside for transportation, dry cleaning, and a haircut. The human unconscious mind makes a decision on if it likes someone in 4 to 8 seconds, so make sure you dress your best to make the best first impression.
You may have student loan's out, and those payments will definitely fall to the wayside, to other things that are more important, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, etc. But do not fret, there are income based plan's that are available to help you weather this tempory storm. Head over to studentloan.gov and complete the application process, it takes less than 10 minutes.
With a plan in place, and a budget in place, and a professional resume, you will be on your way to a better job in no time, and surely, one that pays you more than your last job.
If you have any questions. don't ever hesitate to call me at (718) 551 - 7131 or email me at email@example.com