I love statistics. Last night I decided to go on a hunt to find out about unemployment rates in the United States. What I found didn’t surprise me. Unemployment rates are up. And Oregon has the second highest unemployment rate in the United States at 12.1%. (Find out where your state stands in the right sidebar of the linked page.)
Statistics like that are depressing. So what’s a person to do? Well, you could take a reactive approach and hope unemployment doesn’t hit your household. If it does, you deal with it then.
Or you could be proactive. Prepare for unemployment as if it could happen to you. Hopefully, it won’t. But if it does, you’ll be better prepared. So what can you do?
Make a Plan
Now is a good time to assess your budget. How much money is going out of your bank account each month? Where is it going?
Find areas of your budget that you can easily cut, if you have to. You don’t have to cut them yet. But if you know that you can lose the satellite, landline, and Netflix account if your income is lost, you will be able to quickly take steps to slow the outflow of money, if you need to.
Save, Save, Save
How is your emergency fund doing? If it’s anemic, it’s time to start beefing it up. Try to find ways to save a little more each month.
As someone who’s been through unemployment before, I know that a nice savings account can soften the blow of losing a paycheck. Ideally, you should have 6 months of expenses in your savings account, but any amount is better than nothing.
Between unemployment benefits and a savings account, you’d be surprised how long you can make money stretch.
Be a Model Employee
Make yourself indispensible at work. Show up on time. Be a team player. Do your job to the best of your ability. If your boss is having to make a choice as to whom to lay off, you want to be the one he keeps. If you’re a hard worker with a good attitude, you increase your chances of staying.
Explore Alternate Streams of Income
Loss of income from a job is easier to take if you have other streams of income. Are you a good writer? Freelance on the side. Like sports? Referee soccer on the weekends. Love animals? Offer to pet sit.
Granted, none of those jobs alone will likely pay the bills, but they will help you beef up your savings now, and if you lose your job, some income is better than no income.
Update Your Resume
If you fear your job is in jeopardy, start working on your resume now. You’ll save precious time in your search for a new job, if your resume is ready to go, as soon as you need it. It’s easier to take the time to proof for errors and make sure your resume stands out, when you aren’t under the pressure of finding a new job RIGHT NOW.
Take a Deep Breath
There’s only so much you can humanly do to protect yourself against job loss. If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ve done a lot. The rest is out of your hands.
While that might not seem encouraging, I’m a big believer in rolling with life’s punches. My family learned firsthand that losing a job is not the end of the world. In fact, it can lead to even better opportunities.
The best you can do is take charge of what you can. Try not to worry about the rest. Even if unemployment becomes a reality for you, it’s something you’ll get through in time.