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6 Critical Things To Do After Losing Your Job

6 things to do after losing your job

Joanne Poh

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After all that complaining you’ve done about your job, you would think you’d be happier with it out of your life forever. Unfortunately, when you finally lose your job, you’re more likely to be found crying in your room than throwing a big party to celebrate. Here are a couple of things you should do until you find a new job.

1. Downsize Your Budget

Now that your income is effectively zero, like someone with a wife who’s addicted to Chanel, every cent you spend is going to eat into your savings.

This means you should try to bring your budget as close to zero as possible without killing yourself in the process. Let’s just say it’s a good thing they haven’t found out how to charge for oxygen.

Your recurring expenses are going to suck the life out of you if you’re not careful, because you still need to pay for them even if you’re living in a box and dumpster diving.

In cutting costs, your first step should be to examine all recurring expenses like cable TV, magazine subscriptions and gym memberships and see if you can cancel or downgrade any of them.

Next, cut down on your daily expenses. This should be much easier as the pain you feel every time you take out your wallet will remind you to be frugal.

Even so, you should be able to cut costs even further by creating a written plan. Some things, like cooking at home instead of eating out or always making sure to catch the last bus home benefit from advance planning.

I’m not going to lie. You’re going to feel like the world is ending for the first month or two, but after a while you’ll start getting used to your new downsized life, and this might put in place frugal habits that will continue even after you find another job.

2. Find a Temporary Source of Income

An emergency fund can take a long time to build up. Just recall all those isolating weekends spent staring at the TV because all your friends flew to Denmark for some rave, or all those friendships you resigned yourself to giving up because you didn’t want to attend their weddings.

Finding a temporary source of income before you snag your next job can help you to keep your emergency fund intact. Aim at least to cover your monthly expenses.

If you have a side business, now is the time to ramp things up and really hustle for all you’re worth. Whether you’re pimping your web design portfolio online or trying to persuade your tuition student he needs extra lessons “to prepare him for the exams”, it’s time to go all out.

Don’t shrug off part-time gigs like F&B or retail work either. Just earning $50 a day from Monday to Friday works out to a respectable $1,000 a month. Well, respectable in my world anyway….

3. Call Up Your Creditors

Calling up your creditors when you’ve lost your job isn’t the same as calling up your grandma. Don’t start talking about the weather or raving about how beautiful the bank’s new branch is.

You should, however, explain to them that you have lost your job. Not for a shoulder to cry on, but because they might be able to help you ease the strain.

While it’s true that banks just want your money, it’s bothersome for them to come after you if you default on your loan repayments. So they are usually quite amenable to making things easier on you for a limited period of time.

If you’ve taken out a home loan, student loan or the like, ask if an alternative arrangement can be made during this period of joblessness. This might involve reduced repayment sums or even temporarily stopping installments altogether.

If you have unpaid credit card bills, call the bank and ask in a conciliatory tone if it would be possible to lower the interest rate and work out a repayment plan.

4. Check if You Qualify for Retrenchment Benefits

If you’ve been retrenched rather than fired and have worked for the company for at least three years, you might qualify for retrenchment benefits. Be sure to ask for retrenchment benefits even if your employer sneakily says nothing.

There is no fixed amount that has to be paid out in retrenchment benefits, and it is up to you to negotiate with your employer.

While you’re not entitled to retrenchment benefits if you’ve worked there for less than three years, have a word with your boss and see if the company will consider giving you an ex-gratia payment.

5. Take a Workforce Development Agency-approved Course

You’ve read about it in the news and now it’s happening to you. Yup, it might be time to check out the WDA’s Workforce Skills Qualifications courses for a dreaded “skills upgrading”.

Seriously though, don’t scoff at their courses—there’s everything from mobile app development to cooking classes. I’ve actually thought of taking some of these courses for fun.

The WDA Career Centre can help you with the practicalities of searching for and getting a job, from interview tips to salary negotiation.

If you’re over 35 and earn less than $1,900, you might qualify for the Workforce Training Support (WTS) grant, which can get you a 95% discount off WSQ courses, ITE courses and diploma courses, as well as skills-training courses.

If you’re under 35 and earning less than $1,900 a month, you might still get funded for 90% of the cost of the course.

In addition, you might also qualify for a training allowance of $4.50 an hour. While you might have sneered at that sum before, when your salary is $0 you don’t turn up your nose at any amount. Take it from someone who’s survived on a salary of $1,300.

6. Tell the World

When everyone else on Facebook is bragging about their vacations at some South African safari resort that appeared on the cover of Condé Nast Traveller, talking about your job loss is a bit of a downer.

But if you want to find a new job as soon as possible, swallow your pride and tell everyone. You’ll be surprised at how sympathetic your friends are, and how quick to offer help in the form of job leads and useful contacts.

People are strange that way. Win the lottery and half of your friends will end up feeling alienated, but talk (not whine) about an unfortunate incident and all of a sudden, everyone comes out of the woodwork to help.

Have you ever lost your job? Tell us how you dealt with it in the comments.

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.