A 2014 report on jobs showed some alarming statistics: 1 in 5 Americans have lost their jobs over the past five years and remained unemployed. Here's another alarming statistic: 96 million Americans are unemployed. Everyone's talking about a recession and you know it'll be the middle class who takes the hit.
Unless you live in a neighborhood of rainbows and unicorns, it's a good bet that either your family or someone you know has lost their job. Sometimes the lay-off is expected, as you see your company's profits dwindling. Other times, it is completely out of the blue when you get called into the manager's office and handed your walking papers.
Either way, when the ax falls, you will be reeling in shock. Well, tough love, here: Get ahold of yourself! The first steps you take can help you to survive until you get a new source of income.
I often write about the 3 steps for surviving any disaster, and job loss is no exception. You must ACCEPT that the event has occurred, you must make a PLAN, and you must ACT on that plan. Here are the steps to minimizing the damage to your personal finances when a sudden job loss occurs.
1) Don't sign anything right away.
As much loyalty as you may have had to your company, they clearly don't feel the same sense of loyalty towards you. Many companies will try to get you to sign paperwork right away to "settle the details." Trust me when I say, these details will be skewed in their favor, and not yours.
You do NOT have to sign anything while sitting there, stunned at your sudden change in circumstances. It's vital that you take the time to read over everything carefully. Your severance package, your 401K, any accrued pension, and unemployment benefits will be at risk. In some cases, you can negotiate this, even though you are not sitting in the power seat.
Don't commit to any type of agreement while you're reeling, particularly if they try to coerce you into signing immediately. Regardless of what you may be told, any delay in your unemployment benefits or severance will be minimal.