Dealing with debt is hard when the bills keep coming, even though your paycheck doesn’t. Emotionally, allow yourself a few days to adjust to your new jobless status. The economics of unemployment are hard to separate from the emotional fallout, so take some time to realize that it’s not you; it’s the economy.
Losing your job is a temporary setback. The difference between those who survive and those who don’t is that those who quickly take control of their debt will automatically feel like they are in control of a situation that, otherwise, renders you powerless.
Step 1: Filing for unemployment benefits
If you are eligible for unemployment, file immediately. Most states offer online registration, which eliminates a trip to the local office of employment and streamlines your weekly benefit filing routine. It also saves on gas which is one of several places you will need to be cutting back on expenditures to reduce your daily debt.
Step 2: Do the math
Gather up all your current bills and get out a notebook. Separate your bills into piles rent, utilities, credit cards, loan payments, and insurance premiums. Calculate the number of your monthly expenses then break that down into the amount of money you need weekly just to cover your living expenses.
Now, consider your assets how much you have available in savings and checking accounts, as well as Christmas or vacation club accounts. If you haven’t yet tried online banking, this might be an ideal time to set up a free bill pay account with your current bank. It’s an efficient way to track your monthly payments and schedule bills to be paid on time, thus avoiding late payments – which is a common but completely avoidable waste of money. It also saves on money you would otherwise be spending on postage and envelopes and reduces paper waste. Depending on the urgency of your financial situation, you might consider speaking with a financial advisor about the pros and cons of tapping your 401K. The biggest drawback here is that you will pay the penalty for early withdrawals. However, if it makes the difference between losing your home or car, it might make sense in the long run.
Step 3: Tighten your belt
Remember that the easiest place to cut back on your budget is food shopping and household goods. No matter how thrifty you think you are, there are countless ways to slash your weekly grocery spending even more. Clip coupons, switch to store brands, buy in bulk (but make sure you check the unit price on the shelf.