There tends to be a stigma with job loss that makes it even harder for those who are suddenly unemployed to cope with their new reality. The statistics show that even before this year, 40 percent of Americans will be laid off at some point in their lives, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a matter of your company changing strategy or downsizing, but whatever the reason, losing a job is hard to anticipate and even harder to accept.
In most cases, especially in the wake of an unprecedented event like Covid-19, a job loss can be difficult to deal with. It’s understandable to not know what steps to take after an unforeseen event, and this is all the more true if employment options are severely limited. If your job has been affected by Covid-19, know that there are resources available to help you manage your finances through this unprecedented time.
When times are uncertain, focusing on what you can control can be a great way to stay grounded and positive. So after you ensure your finances are in a good place, here are some ways to focus on the positives of this unexpected situation:
1. Simplify Your Life
Lifestyle creep means you’ve likely picked up small expenses that seem like nothing, but over time increase your cost of living. For example, you may have become accustomed to eating lunch out, and buying locally-roasted coffee from the store. Though small, little lifestyle changes can add up over time.
A job loss can be a way to reevaluate the things and expenses in your life that are truly useful, and which are actually wasteful. This can mean more than cutting a subscription service you know isn’t essential, but actually diving into where your financial priorities have been — and where you want them to be. Maybe you’ve been spending more than you realized on drinks and clothes to keep up with friends, or you’re eating out often when you want to live more health consciously.
Either way, you can take this time to make sure your month to month spending makes sense for the long-term goals you want to achieve.
For help cutting expenses, try our interactive spreadsheet here, or print out these budget prioritization sheets:
2. Figure Out What You Really Want
Working full time, you don’t often get a moment to reflect on the particular aspects of your job that you find fulfilling. Use this time to look back on your job experiences to understand your favorite kinds of projects to work on, how your environment helped or hindered your productivity, and what you found most fulfilling. If you weren’t in a career-driven job, or realized that a career path simply isn’t for you, your dislikes can be just as strong indicators to what you’re really looking for.
From there, you can set intentions for what your ideal next job would look like and what type of environment would help you achieve your goals.
3. Start a Side Hustle
If you’re someone who needs to feel productive or simply needs the extra income, the loss of a job may be the perfect time to start a side hustle. These days, many don’t even require you to leave your home.
Consider which of your skills could easily be done on a freelance or contract basis. Freelance job search site FlexJobs reports the top job categories:
- Computer and IT
- Software Development
- Accounting and Finance
- Project Management
- Administrative (assistants, etc.)
- Online Content
- Education and Training
- Medical and Health (claims analyst, adherence specialists, etc.)
There are many opportunities outside these top industries, so if you’re passionate about illustration or fine art, for example, there’s sure to be a way you can monetize your skills while doing fulfilling work. With the extra time on your hands, there’s no reason not to look into your options.
4. Learn Something New
If you realize your current career path isn’t what you want, you may consider going back to school to get additional training. There are many online school options that are affordable, even on a budget. Even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to going back to school, there are many courses available online and through your community (even virtually) that allow you to explore or discover a new interest.
Whether you sign up for an online course, teach yourself something through a video platform, or enroll in a degree program, learning something new can help you feel more empowered to make progress toward a long-term goal.
5. Spend Time With Loved Ones
With your extra time, you can reconnect with your friends and family to appreciate those who mean the most to you. It’s easy to underestimate how much talking to a friend can lift your mood.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed during this time, catching up with a good friend or family member can be a great way to get your mind off of what’s worrying you. Plus, it’s likely your parents or friends have been where you are at some point, and can provide help and support you through a difficult time. You can also talk to professional advisors or therapists if you feel you need more support financially or emotionally.
Try spreading the support and love around by letting your loved ones know you’re thinking of them and you appreciate them. Sometimes, the best way to work through some of your own problems, is to focus on helping others.
6. Make Time for Self Care
You don’t have to go straight from working at a job to working on yourself. It’s important, especially during difficult transitions, to take time to do activities that only serve to make you feel happier and at peace.
In some cases, self-care may mean finally learning to paint, or going for a run, but in others, it may simply mean lighting a candle and watching your guilty pleasure show. You get to define for yourself what self-care should look like.
To help you practice self-care on a budget, check out these printable activity sheets.
While it’s understandable to be stressed or worried during this time, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. From financial planning tools to your close friends and family, there are resources out there to help you through this rough patch. The bright side of losing a job is that you have more time to reflect on what makes you happy, comb over your budget — or do nothing at all. It’s entirely up to you to decide.