It’s never easy finding yourself suddenly without a job. It can be even more difficult when you’ve been with the same company for 35 years and now find yourself not only looking for work but also wondering how to make ends meet. When faced with this situation, it is vital to take control of your finances as soon as possible to avoid any additional stress on top of what you are already going through. Here are several things you can start doing today to start controlling your spending.
List every single one of your monthly payments, how much you spend on food, eating out, cable, streaming subscriptions (video, audio, library, or all three), vehicle maintenance, car insurance, entertainment, etc. Write it all down, or type it all up. It’s from this list, you’ll begin a strategy of whittling down outgoing cash flow.
Eliminate Anything Unnecessary and Do It in the Next 7 Days
Ideally, you want to do as many of these as you can as soon as you can. However, balance this with mental health and stress levels. No one expects you to do all of this in one day.
- Cancel cable subscriptions
- Reduce the data plans on your monthly cell phone plans (unless this is your primary method of job searching)
- Cancel all streaming subscription services. It’s OK to keep just one if it’s what keeps you or your partner sane. For example, one or both of you may have a routine that involves keeping up with your favorite shows. In that case, keep the streaming service that has those shows.
- Cancel gym memberships. Workout from home.
- Reduce your internet packages in your home.
- Cancel any housecleaning services.
- If your vehicle is old enough, reduce the insurance coverage to just liability. If you have more than one vehicle, park one and use the other.
Where possible, take advantage of credit card specials, installation loans, and other types of financial mechanisms to consolidate your debt payments. Sometimes you can have a lower minimum monthly payment by consolidating your debts into one rather than leaving them separate.
Examine Your Remaining Funds
Like how you took inventory of your outgoing funds, look at everything you have left. Take stock of what is in each checking and savings account. Call the bank and find out when certain funds can be withdrawn without penalties. Examine your 401k and Roth IRA balances. Call each company to learn more about when loans can be taken out against them or when you can begin withdrawing the funds without an early penalty.
Stop eating out until you’ve got more income coming in. Learn some basic recipes at home to get you started. Cooking from scratch is healthier and usually cheaper than purchasing prepackaged, processed foods. Try using coupons or only buying generic versions of an item. Stock up on foods you eat when they’re on sale.
Consolidate Your Trips to Run Errands
Try to do all your errands on the same day of the week to reduce the amount of gas you’re spending. If you live close enough, try walking to take care of some of them. Better yet, do as many of them as you can online.
Learn to garden. Supplement your basic food choices and meals with fresh fruits and vegetables. Try miniature fruit trees or berry vines. Tomatoes and cucumbers go great in several types of salads. Fruits can be added to breakfast dishes or eaten alone.
Reduce your Utility Bills
Stop watering the lawn, cleaning the pool, or leaving the thermostat at either end of extremes. Wear extra layers or take some off and consider using floor fans to be more relaxed.
You’ve gotten through worse. You’re going to make it through this. You are strong, resilient, and very valuable. Only a particular set of the population has what it takes to stay with one company for so long, and all of those qualities are valuable to your next career adventure in life. Control your spending now to reduce your stress. Use the time to plan for the next phase of your life. You’ve got this.