If you turn on the news these days, you are likely to hear some reference to the number of people still unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the unemployment rate has dropped since the beginning of the pandemic, it is still hovering around 10%. Even with many states opening up, businesses are still struggling to figure out a way to bounce back. And there is a lot we don’t know about how the virus will affect jobs as we head into the fall. If you are lucky enough to still be employed, it might be a good time to take a few steps to create a plan to minimize any financial hardship you may encounter in the event you become one of those unlucky few who are added to the unemployment stats.
- Make sure you are aware of your cash flow coming in and out of your financial world. Take stock as to what you are spending money on. Can you reduce, pause or eliminate any unnecessary expenses? Are you paying too much for services? Can you DIY certain things to help cut back on money going out the door? Once you get a handle on all the money you have to work with, you can take any extra cash you find and put it aside into savings to help buffer the brunt of a sudden job loss.
- In the event you do lose your job, you may also lose health coverage. While you could maintain coverage under COBRA, it will likely be more expensive. Therefore, if you are still employed take advantage of your current health plan to take care of any medical concerns you have right now. Get your yearly physical and refill any prescriptions you may need. If possible, get your prescriptions filled with the multi-month option. This will save money in the event you are unemployed.
- Get your resume ready. This means updating your recent employment, courses or certifications you have, and securing strong references with contact information. And don’t forget to also update your LinkedIn profile as well. Now is not the time to cut back on networking. The more you stay in touch with key influencers and business associates the better. You may even consider looking on job sites to see what skills and qualifications are needed for your particular career, as they may have changed since you last updated your resume.
- Know your back up plan. If you are unemployed, is there a side hustle you have been thinking about that could provide you some extra cash if needed? Or is there some sort of part time work you can engage in to keep the basic bills paid? Remember, no job has to last forever. It may be possible to find temporary work for the time period while you are looking for full time work. You might also consider freelancing or consulting as an option. This keeps you engaged in your industry while you are looking for a more steady gig.
- Don’t neglect self care during this time. Losing your job can sometimes affect more than just your bank account. It can also make you feel a little down and out. Take time to focus a little effort on self care. Being anxious about what will or won’t happen can take a toll on your health, which is the last thing anyone needs right now. So, take that walk around the block or read that book on your nightstand. Do some special things for just you to keep your spirits up.
And finally, be prepared to file for unemployment. Check your state’s website for information about the criteria needed to qualify for benefits so that you are knowledgeable about what to expect. Knowing can help you mitigate any further surprises.
No one likes to be unemployed—it doesn’t tickle—but having a plan can give you the comfort in knowing you are prepared in the event it does happen. And try to stay as positive as you can. Be grateful for what you do have and before you know it that next opportunity will be knocking at your door.