These Tips Will Help You Get Organized and Protect Your Family as You Decide What to Do Next
Being laid off is a shock. One day you have a routine, a plan and a schedule. The next day you are unemployed, undirected and often stuck on how to move forward. You will have to get a job search started but you don't have to do that today. This article will give you five specific tasks to take care of immediately. These tasks will help you protect your family, start a plan of action and also give you a little room to plan for the next phase of your life.
1. Start the Unemployment Benefit process - Don't delay!
In the current economy many states are overburdened with new unemployment claims. For some states it may be 10-12 weeks before claims are approved. It you are not able to start your claim on line or get through on your state's provided telephone numbers, find your nearest office and go in person. Be sure to bring the social security numbers of your dependants, your employment start and stop dates and the details of any severance packages that you received.
2. Get health insurance
Having a plan for medical insurance for yourself and your family gives you the room to look for the right job, not just any job. COBRA plans are notoriously expensive, however, under the recent stimulus bill you may only have to pay 35% of your COBRA premium. Look for information about "ARRA" or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in your COBRA documentation. You have 60 days to decide to activate COBRA, (and you will be covered retroactively) so this buys you a window while you research other options. Check out independent plans purchased directly from a health insurer, if you are generally healthy the fees may be manageable. Also check out group health offerings through small business services.
3. Understand your expenses
Financial planning experts tell us that a solid understanding of your actual expenses is the first step to a sound financial plan. If you are like most people, however, you really don't have a true understanding of where you spend your money. Now is the time to take a total inventory of what your expenses are. Be sure to include sometimes hidden expenses such as money spent on gifts, donations, children's needs and daily pocket spending such as coffee or snacks. A realistic understanding of what your expenses are will give you clarity on what you really need to earn and will give you insight into where you can shave expenses if necessary.
4. Make a project list
Right now you have more time than you have money. Make a list of all this projects that you've been meaning to get to but didn't have the time for. Are there home improvement projects that have gone unfinished? Do you have pictures piling up that you plan on scrapbooking? Have you been meaning to walk more to lose those extra pounds? Write it down. When you have your list completed, prioritize you top 5 projects. When your day is unstructured or the job hunt is getting you down, turn to this list and get busy!
5. Take a vacation Seriously
You have been given the gift of time, don't waste it. Yes you have to job hunt but you can't and shouldn't job hunt 24x7. Don't be so anxious about your job loss that you waste the chance to use this time to have some fun. Do you have frequent flyer miles that you could use for a "free" getaway? Do you have a road trip destination and a tent? Do you have a kid's pool, a lawn chair and a book? Get creative and it doesn't have to be expensive. If you are using your time off well, your job hunt will be more productive.