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Q&A Tuesday: How do we prepare for a layoff?

We just got word my husband’s company will be totally shut down by March. How can we be proactive with this information months in advance? – Paula

Hi, Paula!

I’m so sorry that you had to receive such devastating news! My heart goes out to you! When my husband and I were facing his potential unemployment [1] a few years ago it was such a difficult time in our lives.

At the same time, I’m so impressed with your desire to do everything you can to wisely prepare for this. Since you have around eight months, that’s a lot of time to get your family in a great position to weather the storms that might be ahead.

Here are some ways I’d suggest you prepare for this looming layoff:

1) Get on the Same Page with Your Husband

One of the best things you can do is to sit down and create a game plan together. If there was ever a time for you to be a united team, it’s now.

Take a weekend sometime in the next few weeks to make a master plan for the next eight months. Post this game plan in a conspicuous place and refer to it constantly as you make decisions. If possible, sit down and review it on a monthly basis together to make sure you’re still headed in the same direction and see if there are any tweaks or changes you need to make to stay on course.

2) Create and Follow a Budget

A written budget must be the cornerstone of your game plan. If you are not on a strict budget right now, creating a workable, realistic budget for all of your spending is of utmost importance to allow you to get as much financial traction as you can before March comes. In addition, it will help you know exactly how much money you need to live on.

3) Whittle Your Budget Down to the Barebones

Take your written budget and analyze every category: “Could we live without this in the short-term?” If you can’t live without it, ask yourself, “Could we lower our expenditures in this category?”

Again, this is something you need to do together as a couple. You both need to agree together to the short-term sacrifices you are making. [2]

4) Put Every Penny You Can into Savings

Any extra money you can free up in your budget by reducing expenses should go directly into your Emergency Savings. The bigger your Emergency Fund, the better. Not only is it reassuring to know you have this cushion, but it may end up putting food on the table and paying the light bill next year.

5) Stockpile Food & Household Items

As you well know, I encourage people to practice the Buy Ahead Principle [3] and have at least three to six months’ worth of food and household items on hand to save you from paying full price. However, in your case, I’d suggest buying at least a 12-18 months’ worth of all deals that are shelf stable and don’t expire for at least 18 months to two years.

If you can get shampoo for $0.30 per bottle or toothpaste for free, go ahead and buy enough to last you at least a year. That way, in case there aren’t great deals on some of these items or you have no income coming in, at least you know you won’t have to worry about paying for basic essentials.

6) Experiment with Side Income Streams

My husband and I are big believers in having multiple streams of income [4]. The more income streams you set up, the less you have to worry if one is taken away.

If you think there’s even a remote possibility your husband won’t be able to get a job immediately after his company goes under, I’d strongly suggest beginning now to research and experiment with possible side income streams. The book, The Other 8 Hours [5], has some excellent ideas and encouragement for setting up income streams while still working a full-time job.

What suggestions or advice do the rest of you have for Paula? Share them in the comments.