Do you know someone that has lost their job? Like me, you probably do. There have been a lot of layoffs happening due to the recession.
The unexpected loss of income can be very difficult to handle. In addition, getting fired will have some negative emotional consequences.
If the person losing their job is your spouse, then you’d better be ready to help or things could go downhill quickly!
How to support your spouse after they have lost their job
No matter the circumstances, losing a job can be very upsetting. It can cause feelings of insecurity and bitterness. Of course, neither of these is helpful in regaining employment.
If you husband or wife has lost their job, then it is critical that you immediately become very supportive. Here are some suggestions:
1. Reassure your spouse that they are valuable and smart
A layoff can make a person start questioning, “Why me?” It can undermine their confidence and stir up all kinds of insecurities. Be sure to spend ample time reassuring your spouse that they have a lot to offer. Point out contributions they made at their former employer and remind them of their strongest talents.
2. Help your spouse to look to future instead of dwelling on the past
Most people get angry when they get laid off. This is natural. It is okay to be upset for a couple of days, but it is important to move on. Help your spouse by focusing their thoughts on the future instead of continually dredging up the past. There is very little to gain in rehashing the layoff over and over again. Suggest that maybe the layoff happened for a reason and that something better is just around the corner.
3. Support their ideas and encourage them to explore opportunities
A layoff can be viewed as an opportunity to realign one’s career with what they really want to do. It can be a time to seek significance and meaning or to rekindle an old dream. Be supportive. Some of the ideas that come from your spouse may seem a little far fetched, but give them some room to be creative. If they have a responsible track record, they will likely come to the right conclusion anyway and they might stumble onto something very profitable along the way!
How to adjust your finances to live on one income
Losing a job also means the loss of a source of income. It is imperative that you take immediate action to mitigate the financial damage that this can cause and to give your spouse time to replace the revenue.
Here are some things to consider doing:
1. Re-evaluate your monthly budget
You have a written budget right? If not, then get started budgeting your money now! Re-evaluate the necessity of all your expenses. Cut out all non-essential items immediately! This may seem extreme, but I believe that swift action early will accomplish two things. It will maximize the amount of time that you can live on one income which in turn will take some pressure off your spouse.
2. Come up with an estimate of how long you can survive financially
Once you’ve adjusted your budget, figure out how long you can last financially on just one income. When will your emergency fund run out? How long can you last before you’ll start getting behind on your bills? Hopefully, you have enough saved to last at least 3 to 6 months. If not, then you and your spouse may need to consider part-time jobs to generate more income. This step is a necessary reality check!
3. Look for ways to temporarily increase income
Besides part-time employment, there are other ways to temporarily increase your take-home pay. You can adjust your payroll tax withholdings. You can also adjust or stop retirement contributions to your 401k or IRA on a temporary basis. Talk to your HR or payroll people at work and explain your situation. They might be able to think of other ways to help increase your take-home pay.
4. Sell possessions to generate income and reduce expenses
Take an inventory of the items you own. Now might be a good time to sell things of value that you don’t use or that cost you money for storage and upkeep. I have sold boats, computers and a hot tub via craigslist or local classified ads. Your spouse should have the time to help with this project and you might be surprised at how good it feels to get rid of some stuff.
5. Consider down-sizing your lifestyle permanently
Face it. Your income may never be what it was before the layoff. Your spouse might decide to pursue more satisfying, but lower paying employment or they might decide to stay at home with the kids. You may need to make permanent adjustments to your lifestyle to cope. You might decide to sell your house, get rid of one of your cars and start being frugal. It sounds crazy, but it might be the best move you’ve ever made!
Losing a job is not the end of the world if you take action
The key to surviving your spouse losing their job is to take decisive action quickly. You need to provide emotional support and organize your finances quickly. If you do these things, then you’ll be well on your way to weathering this storm!
What other suggestions would you offer?
Photo by Kai Hendry