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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 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.

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 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. 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, 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.

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  • Jodi says:

    I would strongly suggest checking into direct sales now. I do Pampered Chef but there are others out there. Get started now, you could have a steady $1500/mon coming in by March. I know I am bias – but I would love to share what I have been able to do w/PC. Remember that its not just the income but also the tax write offs to consider. You could end up w/a great tax return with a home based business. I am friends w/several consultants from different business so if you need any other info – I would be happy to help.

    • Andrea Q says:

      Direct sales can be great if you have the right personality and your area isn’t already flooded with consultants. However, the average person makes less than $2400 annually doing direct sales. Make sure to research the market (and the company) before you get involved.

  • Helene says:

    Also don’t forget us single parent households. I have a young grandson to raise and my bosses want to retire. I figure I have a year left there at most. I have enough stockpiled shampoo & body wash to last 3 lifetimes 🙂 It’s the mortgage I worry about. Not too much because God has always provided even during the darkest days of the past, but still 🙂 I’m too old to have parents to move back in with.

    • Jodi says:

      How old is your grandson? Can you do direct sales or something on the computer from your home? I only do 2 shows/week max. I can control my schedule. I now am in LOVE with couponing. I dont have much of a stock pile but I am working on it. Good luck Helene

      • Brandi says:

        I also do direct sales in addition to two other part time jobs while I am looking for a full time job. I am with Mary Kay and I love the support I get from fellow consultants and the company. Mary Kay also has the highest commission in the country, at 50%. However, it is so much easier to sell if it is something you are passionate about. I would look at that first before choosing something to sell. Direct sales is about enthusiasm for your product, so you want to pick one you love! You can run your entire business from your website if you choose, that is entirely up to you! Email me if you want any more details

  • This is excellent advice, Crystal.

    We have been surviving my husband’s sudden layoff since the end of April. With 8 kids and my stay at home mom status, it is tough!

    There is so much I have learned! I am working on a series now on “How to Prepare For Unexpected Financial Crisis”.

  • Challice says:

    Crystal, I was looking at your post you linked up,

    we’ve been trying to do $25 a week for a family of four. I am trying to keep at it even though my hubby gives me $40 a week. The extra $$ has been going into savings for medical.

    So where is my question? In all realistically, What is a good budget for a family of four?

  • Tammy says:

    Hi Paula,
    I have a good 6 months notice before losing my job. I closed our family business that my Dad owned. We refinanced the house. Don’t tell the bank why besides getting a better interest rate. We saved $200 a month and 2 1/2 % in interest. We got rid of cable/satellite which saved us $100/month.
    We got rid of any extra insurance policies such as Aflac, disability, etc. Cut our internet speed to the lowest speed saved $10/month. We only go out if we have a coupon and bought Groupons ahead of time. I just couldn’t give up my dinners out once a week. Cut down our cell policies and got rid of the home phone.
    If you have a diaper wearing little one I switched to Amazon subscribe and save for all diapers, diaper genie and anything else I can on there. You save upto 35%.
    I wish you luck. If you have any questions email me at

  • Leanne Moringlanes says:

    We were and still are in the same situation. We had 6 months to figure things out. We did everything that is mentioned above and it helped save us from losing everything. You don’t realize what you can live without until its no longer there. Most of it we don’t even miss anymore. It takes a little adjustment and having 8 months will help you “ease ” into it.

  • Sara says:

    I say if the husband can, start looking for jobs now! Movement is slow in the market and the chance to go on interviews, get the resume reviewed, etc. now will all help. Also, network, network, network! Make use of these months to meet with others in the same field, go to chamber of commerce lunches, etc. depending on what type of field he’s in. Lastly, start researching health care options! This was our priciest expense during our layoff a couple years ago. Prayers for you! This is never fun news! Thankfully there is some time to prepare.

    • Brooke says:

      Yes! Why wasn’t this the FIRST suggestion. Get a new job! Now! Obviously you want to prepare in case you don’t but I would personally have him make finding a new job his side job right now. He should be doing as much networking as possible, getting his resume out to EVERYONE he knows, getting on linked in if he isn’t already, sending e-mails and resumes etc. Having eight months to find a new job is actually a huge blessing vs. being laid off unexpectedly.

      • Crystal says:

        I didn’t make it the first suggestion because some companies will let you go immediately if they find out you are actively searching for another job. So in some situations, it’s not wise to be actively searching for a job while you still have somewhat stable employment–especially if you don’t already have a good emergency fund in place. However, if you know that a company is completely okay with you searching for another job (or you have a good emergency fund in place), than I definitely agree with your suggestions to make finding another job the top priority while you still have a job!

        Thanks for sharing!

        • elle-tn says:

          When my DH went through this similar experience, the company told them that they would lose their severance package if they left the company before the company was ready to let them go. I would definitely suggest getting your resume in order though. DH’s company actually supplied a professional to help with their employee’s resume.

        • Kris says:

          I agree that searching for a new job (discreetly, of course) is most important. It is easier to find a new job when you already have a job. I found that out the hard way.
          Once you’re out of work, companies look at you differently–as if you’ve been fired and are less desirable–regardless of what the real circumstances are.
          Otherwise, these are all good suggestions that I wish I had known before I was suddenly laid off. I’m happy to be back at work, but it’s been somewhat of a blessing in disguise to have gone through it because it really made me more conscious of how much money I was wasting.

        • Tammy says:

          That is true that some companies can get rid of you when you are looking for a new job,but since this place is closing then I doubt they would get rid of people who are looking for a new job.I hope in this case her husband is truly looking for a new job.One never knows that as the company gets closer to closing they could lay off as time gets closer and business slows down.

          • Jiya says:

            Absolutely start looking for something NOW — he’s got 8 months to try to find replacement employment and that time could be well spent lining up new opportunities. At a minimum, start working on the resume and get it in good shape, and then start sending it around. Don’t forget to network — ask everyone you know if they are aware of any positions in his field or any openings, and ask them to ask their friends & family too.

        • Meredith says:

          I’ve worked in hr. A company cannot lay you off nor fire you if you are looking for a new job. Legally of course. If you have the vacation time available and can get time off for interviews and do not do anything job search related on company time, then a company cannot let you go. Of course, there are some crummy companies, probably that would do this. Like another reader said, if they did find out, they would not fire you. When this happens, the company is probably wanting you to leave and find a new job. If you do, they can contract work for much cheaper without giving benefits. Not to mention when the job ends, severance packages wouldn’t have to be paid out and the company wouldn’t be responsible for their portion of the unemployment benefits. The advice you gave for the wife is great, for her, but the husband needs to get his rear in the job hunt game. Pronto!

      • Jen K. says:

        I agree, Brooke! At the very least, polish up the resume and start prepping for interviews. Even if you bomb an interview, it’s excellent practice (ask me how I know…haha). It is a very difficult market and it can take 6 months to find a job (or even longer) so start looking now!

    • Lana says:

      I agree! My husband talks to so many other men who know they are going to lose their job but do not have a current resume. It takes alot of work and revision to get a resume ready for job hunting. It also takes about 2 months to get your resume in circulation among the employment agencies and web sites, so it is best to get a head start. We went through a 9 month period of unemployment recently and the job market is extremely slow. Another suggestion my husband has been making to others after his experience is to update your skills by taking classes or getting some training that will quailify you for a more up to date position. What he hears back from others is that they don’t have time right now to take care of the resume or training issue but it could shorten your time of unemplyment significantly.

      We did all the things suggested above and we did not have to touch our savings for 3 months because we had built up all the budget catagories by not spending beforehand.

      Go ahead and find out how much unemployment you will receive, it is easily found on the internet, then you wil be able to start planning.

      During a period of unemployment don’t forget to have fun in free ways! It makes life so much more pleasant! We rediscoverd simple things like packing our lunch and eating it at a nearby park with lakeside picnic tables, taking walks together, sitting outside on the deck and enjoying our backyard. It is easy in a time of stress to just pull into ourselves and forget that life will go on and it will not be like this forever.

      • Jessica says:

        Atleast start contacting old contacts, ensure they are willing to be your reference at this time, and they may want a copy of your resume for back up. Also, if you have suppliers or customers, let them know you’ll be looking in x amount of time.
        unfortunately, while it certainly isn’t legal to get fired for changing jobs, there are legal ways around it. you can be deemed “less dedicated” or having a “bad attitude” because you look like you want to leave, same with taking too much vacation, even if it was earned.
        But definately start looking now. Esp if the field he wants to stay in requires any certification, this would give him time to get recertified or update his skill sets during non company hours. Looking ahead also helps you tone your resume. These days, resumes also tend to be tuned to the job, not just the cover letter.
        Make sure they aren’t going to plan any shut downs where they require you use vacation to cover. many automakers require a week of vacation time be used during shut down, and during the economy downfall, my job added shut down periods and requested vacation time be used then.
        Also, I’d suggest looking into you or him getting a holiday retail job, and the time to start applying for those is now. I have a part time retail job, and barely get hours, except during back to school and holiday. If your lucky, maybe it will be somewhere you’d shop at and be able to take advantage of discounts as well. Try being able to work his off hours if you have children, or try a late night fast food place even. I think I’ve read someone recommending paper routes as well.
        Plus the side income ideas posted on here, from the editing job posted the other day all the way down to surveys and vocal point
        know your rights and requirements when it comes to your state’s unemployment. I recommend not planning that into your budget now. Save as if you wont have it, because who knows what they will do to the extensions or number of allotted weeks, esp since extensions can change based off of your state’s unemployment rank in the country. by not planning on it, you’ll make your savings last longer. in MI, you can get unemployment if your holiday shut down is min two weeks. I also found the unemployment website to be a GREAT place to job search. Jobs are posted there that aren’t posted elsewhere, because the employer wants to show they helped someone who wasn’t already employed.
        understand cobra, community and government health care. know what and when things end regarding your benefits, if any can be paid into. make sure to get in all of your health visits, like try to squeeze in both 6 month dentist cleanings before the last day, actually make the appointments now so they aren’t booked up. go get your eyes checked prior to the last day, get full use of your benefits and buy a year of contacts then, or just double check that your all healthy, because you can’t predict when you will get a job next, and some health plans require 30 to 90 days of employment before they start back up.
        find out if unused vacation days are paid out at the end and how many or if it’s use it or loose it.
        if there’s any discounts offered through your employer, use them to your advantage.

  • John Glenn says:

    Always have a plan B already working for you, never wait to get the plan going after you find out the bad news. When looking at a side business make sure it can change with technology and with many different product lines built within it. Make sure the company has no debt. A customer generating system within social media. A good company is built on team work where everyone can benefit without competing with each other.

  • Spendwisemom says:

    Sorry to hear about your future layoff. I agree with everything that has been said and would just say to live a bare bones lifestyle right now and save anything you can for the future. Either refinance or think of downsizing or even sell the house if you need to. It would be better than losing your home. If you live in an area where you can do extreme couponing, now is the time to do it! Trade services with friends to save you both money. Skip the mall and hit garage sales. Realize that you are not alone. Many people have had to go through this and for some it has forced them to find their hidden talents.

    • Love your line, “Skip the mall and hit the garage sales.” Couldn’t agree with you more! Just about everything you need you CAN find at a yard sale (maybe with the exception of food). Maybe some of the really awesome deals you find could be turned into ebay money makers as well.

      • Jessica says:

        I stopped in a Plato’s closet the other day, I couldn’t believe how busy it was! back to school shopping and busier than some malls!

  • Crystal – you are spot on with so many of these. Begin living today like you are already unemployed. We were on our “God Watch”/period of unemployed for one year, but we also had advanced notice, just like Paula. I know many don’t, and it was a blessing. I was already living a very frugal lifestyle, and thought there were not many other corners we could trim, but it is truly amazing what you can do when you have to. I blogged the experience, but now we just celebrated our one year anniversary of being back employed and all the steps you shared are what enabled us to survive that year intact. We didn’t wait until the crisis hit, we attached the situation before, and that is my biggest bit of advice with this economy. Prepare now as if you will be laid off tomorrow, so that it doesn’t hit you so dramatically if that time comes. We learned so much through it, even though it was such a difficult period.

  • Tammy says:

    WOW I am in shock that you know 8 months before your husband will loose his job.My husband has been known to loose 2 jobs in the same time frame.

    Good advice given.

  • Crystal says:

    If you have the space for it, having a garden is a great way to cut grocery spending and have fresh fruits and vegetables. My husband and I planted some fruit trees and berry bushes and other misc vegetables each year (we only have a small back yard in town). There are plants that do well in containers that you could do even in the smallest of spaces (potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries)… we are also thinking of making a small root cellar in the basement to store some of our summer produce into the winter months. It is maybe too late to start anything this year if you haven’t already (some vegetables have a shorter growing season) but you can always plan for next year. I would also say to start researching what resources you have in your area (food shelf, etc).

    • Davonne says:

      Gardening equipment is probably on clearance right now, or will be soon, so now would be a great time to purchase the necessary items to prepare for a garden next spring.

      • Gail says:

        For anyone interested in starting a garden, gardening equipment is often “dirt cheap” at moving sales and estate sales. Since many people downsize to apartments or condos, they no longer need gardening equipment. Planters and pots are often cheap or free at these sales. I have picked up pots set out for trash that are like new. I am also seeing seed packets in stores at 75-90% off now that the stores are clearing shelves for Fall & Winter. Just don’t overbuy seeds, it is tempting when starting out. 1 pack goes a long way!

      • Andrea Q says:

        I’ve gotten free pots at the town recycling center. Large kitty litter buckets work well, too, if you can drill drainage holes in the bottom. Dirt can be expensive though if you don’t have a free source.

        We live in the northeast and there’s still enough time to plant peas, lettuce, spinach, basil and radishes.

        I got a tomato plant on clearance today at a garden center for $3.50. The tomatoes on it are nearly ripe and would have cost more than that to buy!

    • jeannine says:

      some plants you can plant now beans, carrots, radishes, lettuce, broccoli

  • peever says:

    My husband is self-employed and I’m a stay-at-home mom. It’s taking forever for people to pay us for the work he’s completed so he hasn’t taken home any money since April. I am so thankful that we had saved 5-6 months worth of expenses and that I had a good stockpile to get us through these past few months. We’re not broke yet, but our savings is definitely dwindling. Things are improving and people are starting to pay us so hopefully we’ll have enough to get us by, but if not, we would have to start getting serious. We haven’t gone bare bones yet, but I’ve been actively looking for part-time jobs and haven’t found anything yet.

    I agree that your husband should start looking now and make sure his resume is updated so that he’s ready to apply should the opportunity arise.

    Good luck to you.

    • Brandi says:

      Did you see the comments on direct sales above? It is super flexible so you could still stay home with your kids.

      • peever says:

        My husband is often out of town for most of the week so evenings are out for me. Really the only chance I have of earning extra income is if I can find a small company that would let me do data entry/book keeping from home until my youngest starts kindergarten.

    • Magda says:

      Out of curiosity what type of job does your husband do?

      I’m self-employed as well, as a creative consultant (art direction/graphic design) and when I set up work agreements with new clients I always ask for a 25-50% deposit up front. Plus I request a full payment before handing over final deliverable files. The only time I don’t ask for a deposit is when it’s a big company that actually puts me on payroll as an independent contractor.
      Regardless there is always a written contract outlining the terms, stating out the job fees and payment schedules (even a provision for late payments 1% of total for each month the payment is late). Written in legalese.
      These are available for free online.. for the creative industry.
      If any client is late with a payment I get in touch with them, depending what kind of a relationship we have, I may casually remind them, or simply send out an official statement showing the account is past due. And this happens very rarely and only for the bigger companies which I bill after the job is complete.

      Not sure if that’s something he should be implementing depending on what he does, but most self-employed consultants follow a similar procedure.

      • peever says:

        He’s not a consultant, but a sub-contractor. Our biggest problem area is his seeding/erosion control division. We mainly do large governmental contracts and it takes FOREVER to pay and we have to pay all the job costs up front. The work has to be completely finished before they’ll pay the general contractor and unfortunately we’re running into problems with the general contractors using the money they owe us for other things because the economy sucks and everyone is broke and is robbing Peter to pay Paul. So it ends up taking 2-3 months for us to get paid, but it’s good money so we just have to suck it up and hope that our savings will get us through.

        We have to make collection calls at least weekly. It’s sad.

  • Koree says:

    I am curious I have unsteady income (I’m a waitress). How can I create a budget if I don’t know how much I will make on a weekly basis?

    • peever says:

      Dave Ramsey addresses irregular income in his books, but honestly, I have not been able to make a written budget work for us because our income is totally, utterly irregular. I think he mostly addresses those that are on commission, etc.

      I just do my best by always spending the least amount of money at all times.

      • Crystal says:

        Is the issue that you don’t ever have enough coming in each month or the income varies every month that it’s just overwhelming to try to figure out how to budget it? We’ve almost always had a variable income (and we’ve always lived on a written budget) so I’d be glad to share what has worked for us if you want to share more specifics on what have been your budgeting hangups.

        • peever says:

          Probably both. My husband (self-employed) hasn’t taken a paycheck since April since we’re having a lot of problems with people not paying us despite doing collection calls at least weekly. We bought another business last summer, which is now doing pretty well, but our other businesses have suffered since we’ve seemed to have to rob Peter to pay Paul to get things going, so to speak. So for the past year, my husband has only taken home enough money to get us by. We’ve got a ton of money on the receivables and we’ve been able to collect a little of it lately so I know we’ll be able to catch up this fall.

          So it’s probably doable when he can take regular paychecks, but I struggle with it. It is a little overwhelming. It just seems like there’s never enough to go where it’s supposed to go.

          I’d love any advice you can give!

        • Koree says:

          Right now I do have an emergency “fund” that I pull from like I did this summer while I took summer school. I typically now most of my expenditures like rent/water/electric/pet rent etc. My gas/food/entertainment kind of throws me for a loop each month though I try to get by on bare bones in this area. I hate pulling from my emergency savings b/c during my student teaching semester I won’t be able to work at all…It would be great to see a series or article on this subject.

        • Kris says:

          I would love to see you address this topic just as far as your own experiences with it. My husband is self-employed and his income is all over the map too. Some months it’s like hitting the lottery and other months it’s painfully low. We try to work just from my income, but that doesn’t always cut it. I feel like we need his income to be more consistent to make sure we have the CASH we need to avoid having to use a credit card.

    • Anonymous says:

      We also have an irregular income. We have a set amount that we’ll pay ourselves each month (my husband owns a business). Any extra money that we “could” pay ourselves stays in the company account so that we can still pay ourselves the same amount on a slow month.

      You could do something similar – set up an extra bank account at your current bank. Start putting money back into your separate account each week, then on a slow week (or month), just pull the money from that. We do our banking online, so it only takes a minute to transfer the money online (and this can be done on our mobile phones if needed).

      It takes a little getting used to, but it’s so much easier for us in the long run. Also, when we have a huge project and get a lot of extra money, we put it directly on debt so our actual standard of living doesn’t increase.

      And Dave Ramsey has some awesome ideas regarding this – our income is very irregular at times but he allows us no excuses for not doing a budget!

      • Magda says:

        This is exactly what I do. And how many freelance creatives handle their income.

        I have figured out a monthly income from my consulting job, and I pay myself and put away a % for taxes. Any money put away toward taxes less deductions is free money 😉

        If there is a month when I make more due to extra hours , that money stays in the “company account” so IF there happens to be a slow week/month I’ll have enough to cover my next “paycheck”.

        It’s sort of like an emergency savings fund for getting paid from being self employed.

        If the year is good and client work flows and I have contracts for future work I pay myself a bonus, lol

  • suzanne kao says:

    I have experienced this issue for 14 months. We were lucky we had a good emergency savings fund and sold stock to stay afloat.
    You are probably already doing these things since you are using this website.
    *Stick together with your husband; this is very good advice from the list!
    *Take advantage of all the deals on nonparishables you can.
    *Call all of your credit card companies and ask them to reduce your interest rate every 6 months. Make sure you can make all the minimum payments on all of your current debts.
    *Remember that goodwill/savers/garage sales are a great place to find really good deals on clothing. Some of it is brand new.
    *If your husband has a 401K fund, you may be able to borrow against it if times get tough.
    *Have a garage sale this summer. It will help you declutter and make $.
    *It is very easy to use Craigslist or Ebay to sell any big ticket items you are not using.
    *Do you have teenagers? Do they drive? They may need to get a job to pay for expensive gadgets/clothes or give up their car insurance premium. Or even help out with the bills as needed.
    *Cook cheaply as much as possible and avoid going out to eat.
    *Go to the library for all of your reading/video entertainment needs.
    Good Luck! It is good that you have so much notice in advance. We did not get any notice and it was a very difficult transition for my husband and I with a new baby (all those extra expenses).

  • Denise says:

    Prayers for you all. My DH lost his job 5 yrs ago w/less than 8 wks notice so I know it’s scary. The advice given is excellent, and all I can do is emphasize it. Dave Ramsey is an excellent resource – wish we’d found his book/program before we nearly went broke. This is a great time of year too, to start getting food put by. In my town I have neighbors with fruit trees they let me pick bc they dont. Friends and family w/ over- flowing gardens who share. If you pay the morgage and put food on the table, you can live to fight another day. Sell everything you can. Get out of a car payment, if possible. Cut the home phone or dont resign for the cell plan. Just re-evaluating is a great place to start. I hope that helps and things work out well for you. But, dont’ be terrified of it. Start now with the attitude that it will be a learning experience. I’ve learned so much, that I can honestly say I wouldn’t change what happened to us. even tho it was really rough!

  • Lynn says:

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned, but have you considered getting a part-time job? Maybe work when you husband can watch the kids. Or taking in kids to babysit if you don’t want to work outside the home? When we went through one of our very low-financial times, I was working fulltime and doing a part time home business. Yes, I missed my kids, but when things get tough, we do what we have to do right? The kids survived and so did we and all learned some valuable lessons. If you can increase your income NOW, put it all toward stockpiling nonperishables (don’t forget clothes and shoes for next year – summer clearances and back to school sales would be a perfect time to stockup) also put the extra income into savings knowing that its for the time of unemployment. Your husband should start looking now for a new job, hopefully he will find something soon and won’t have to worry about being at the company when they lay off everyone. My husband was unemployed for 3 months this year, he had been job hunting for 3 months prior to his final day at his last job. (yes, we too knew it was coming). But most importantly, PRAY, trust God for your needs.

    • I agree. There are lots of ways you can make money from home, on the side, and if you started now, you could save the money you make as part of your emergency fund later. Consider shopping yard sales to resell on ebay–takes very little up front investment but can have big payoffs! This worked for us when my husband was out of work for 3 weeks.

    • Emily says:

      I agree and wondered too why no one had yet mentioned that she look for a job. My advice would be for BOTH her husband and her to start looking now for jobs. That way they at least might have the option for her to work, should her husband have a more difficult time finding a new job.

  • Margaret says:

    We dealt with 2 years of underemployment. For upcoming birthdays and holidays, if you can, ask generous friends and family for gift cards instead of presents. Stockpile the cards, and then when there is a night where you just can’t stand to eat beans and rice again, you can pull one out of the stash and go out to dinner guilt free! Combining it with a coupon can make it go even farther.

  • Janet says:

    Most utility company’s and phone company’s have a low income discount (10-20%). Contact them immediately and see if you can qualify for their programs! If not ask them once the layoff takes place if you will qualify then. You usually have to fill out a form but it is pretty painless.
    Also, if you have an extra room in your house try and rent a room out. I have rented out rooms almost every place I have lived (even our 2 bedroom apt.) and it is a great way to tuck more money into savings. If you do this create a lease so that everything is official – I have had great luck with this and when people came to look at the room I visited with them for quite a while – this helped me weed out people who might not be a good fit.
    If you find you are not making ends meet go to your local food bank/food share. If you can save on purchasing food to make your payments do it!! I just heard a talk from a Food Share administrator last week saying that most people that use their service need help for about 7 months and that their clients have enough money to cover about 85% of their expenses….they are so close but they just need a little help to get by.
    Everyone needs help sometimes so let friends and family know what’s going on (those you feel comfortable telling) so that they can help look for jobs, identify opportunities they are aware of and help in other ways they might be able to (cook a meal once a week, babysit, etc…).

  • Jen says:

    I’m sorry your having to deal with this. almost 2 years ago we were in the same situation. My husband worked as a contractor for the Air Force when they decided they will no long have contractors. At the beginning the deal was that all contractors will become civil service when the contract was up in 1 year, but a few months in they decided that my husbands job and 5 other jobs would just be deleted. In the end 3 months after the we heard his job would last 1 more year, his lab (he is an environmental chemist) was closed down and demolished. I will say that because they had a binding contract with the Air Force his company did move him into another position and recommended he actively look for other work and even offered to help with resumes and such. I think usually if you’ve been given such an advanced notice then the company is OK with you looking for another job. Thankfully 2 weeks after the demolition of the lab my husband got an amazing job offer (only problem was it was 1500 miles away). So we packed up our house and started on the craziest adventure of our lives so far. We are doing well and all is good. So I say “Good Luck and Hang in There! It may get rough but just keep looking up!”

    • Andrea Q says:

      I’m glad your husband found something so quickly, Jen.

      I just wanted to clarify the that the Air Force does still employ people as contractors, typically through a company such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc.

  • Sorry to hear about your husband’s job, it’s very scary when we get news like that. I would have to agree that everything that has been said is excellent financial advice. The only thing that I would add is that this job loss will most likely be a blow to his self-esteem even though it wasn’t his fault. Grief is a normal part of job loss (for him and you) so acknowledge that both of you will grieve differently and keep the lines of communication open. My husband was very angry about his job loss, I tried to remain calm and supportive even though it was difficult sometimes. The other piece of of advice that I would give is for him to keep some kind of schedule. My husband kept a very strict schedule (when he got up, ate, walked the dog, went to the gym, etc) and that helped him tremendously. Several years later we actually look back at his job loss as a blessing. He’s much happier in his current career even though initially he took a huge step backward in regards to salary. Good luck!

  • Lisette says:

    My husband was just laid off 3 weeks ago. I think there are THREE things that have been so helpful for us –

    1. Our trust that GOD is in control. He believe that His plan is perfect, and we feel as though we can trust in His providence.

    2. PRAYER. We have felt the prayers of SO many people holding us up — friends, church members, extended family, blog readers. It has been amazing. I have truly felt my faith being bolstered up for the bumpy ride. It’s been a great experience!

    3. SAVINGS. The theme of my blog is “buy on sale and save the difference.” We have so much peace in this situation knowing that with my husband’s unemployment, my “teacher-sized” salary and our savings, we could make it for a very long time. Learning how to stretch the budget really helps too!

    All of God’s greatest to you!

    • Kimberly says:

      AMEN! God is in control. I will pray for you guys, Paula.
      I totally agree with Lisette. Let your church know how to pray for you and what your needs are.
      We experienced that a few years ago, when we had a few very large expenses come up. We let our church know that we needed prayer and provision… and we received an anonymous cash donation… via the mail!
      As Christians, we ARE one body– in Christ– even in the blogosphere!
      Blessings to you and your family!

  • tricia says:

    RE: Suzanne’s suggestion to “*If your husband has a 401K fund, you may be able to borrow against it if times get tough” Be careful with this one, many employers require that you pay back 401 K loans immediately if you are terminated from the company. Please check this out before proceeding.

    • Jessica says:

      Tricia is very right. Almost all companies give 60 to 90 days after date of termination to pay back a loan in full. If it’s not paid back, it’s deemed a withdrawal from the 401k, and you are responsible for coming up with the taxes due at your tax bracket (which may go up due to the income from the withdrawal) AND you need to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

  • Ashley Penn says:

    Sorry to hear. While my husband has never had this problem, I have been having to support my unemployed father for years, and I grew up in pretty dire circumstances when I was a kid, so I learned a lot from my grandmother, and her Depression Era wisdom:

    1. Pray. Doesn’t matter how much budgeting you do. Rely on Him. Sometimes He comes through even when you can’t come through yourself.

    2. That thing about the Pantry? It’s true. Start stocking up on non-perishables. They’ll last a LONG time.

    3. Start looking for a new job NOW. The sooner you get one, the less time you’ll spend going through your stockpile. You can apply for a lot of local jobs online. Email resumes. Have callbacks come to a number you can use during the day. Get some feelers out in the community.

  • Carly says:

    FANTASTIC ideas – but I would stress the EMERGENCY FUND over STOCKPILING. Buying more items than you need to live on, especially with money that’s being counted penny-by-penny, is not something I’d do. Shampoo examples: How about diluting the Shampoo you already have? Wash with water every other day? Or ordering sample-after-sample online? (I’ve got a stockpile of those little packets everywhere ! 😀 Dinner ideas: There’s a Bean-and-Rice recipe right on the can that is awesome…. 2 nights a week, and you’ve just saved $$.

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    We’ve never been in this situation thankfully. We did loose 1/3 of our income 5 years ago and never looked back by living on one salary and banking the other as an emergency fund.

    My husband is in seminary right now to become a pastor with our church and we’re looking at a decrease of about 50% of our income when he’s done. One of the web sites I’ve found SO helpful in looking ahead for this is The Prudent Homemaker ( Brandy does a fantastic job of showing how to use your pantry staples, how to garden the most effectively, and how to stretch your budget in a multitude of areas!

    Blessings to you in your journey!

  • Julie says:

    Look into assistance programs – this is why they exist! Food stamps, LIHEAP (utilities), WIC, state medical care (depends on where you live), financial support. I know that many people are embarassed to do this, but I have used these programs when I needed them right after college and they carried me through a tough time. A lot of my friends in seminary used WIC while they were students and it was such a big help. There are also food pantries you can go to once or twice a month. Every little bit helps, and once you are back on your feet, you can make a special effort to donate to those in need, knowing than anyone can be there.

  • Liz says:

    I have been laid off since April and had five months notice also. Before the lay off, we made a “layoff budget.” This included the bare bones that we could live off (very limited entertainment, beans/rice for food, etc.). Also, see what your unemployment rate will be and factor this into the equation. It is easier to have your new budget agreed upon before unemployment.

    As with other suggestions, I would have your husband start networking immediately in his line of work. This isn’t looking for a job yet but putting out feelers that he is expecting to be unemployed shortly. Second, if you are not working, start looking for work 2-3 months before his unemployment. One salary is better than none and it certainly lessens the stress.

  • There has already been some great advice given. I would definitely start saving as much as possible now.

    Last year, the company I worked for announced they were closing my division (about 1500 employees would lose their jobs). I was in the position to communicate that to our general employee population and work on the terms of the separations.

    I would recommend your husband talking to his manager or HR department regarding a potential severance package. They may be will to offer something to those employees who stay until the end. He also should look into what happens to his medical benefits. Depending on that answer, you may want to schedule as many appointments now as possible. He should also ask for a letter of recommendation. Not all employers will give one but he may still be looking for a job after the closure and not be able to reach people for references.

    It was very overwhelming for me to go through the process personally. I think it’s great that you trying to prepare now. I saw so many people just try to pretend it wasn’t happening.

  • A little over three years ago my husband “resigned” from his position at our church. He still does not have a single job, he has three parttime jobs. He is a bivocational pastor at the church we now attend – he does family and marriage counceling for the church, he also works as a hospice chaplain and 2 days a week he does manuel labor. Although it is hard, I see that he is very fulfilled in the ministry jobs and honestly, our income is about the same as it was when he was working just the one job. Had this not happed three years ago, I don’t think he would have realized how much he enjoys the hospice work. So it was a blessing in disguise.

    One of the things that helped us was that even though he had 3 months severance pay, he started working right a way. We have a friend who has is a contractor and my husband began working for him several days a week. Even though it is totally out of his field. It provided some income and allowed him to keep busy and feel productive. We later read No More Dreaded Mondays by Dan Miller and this is also one of his suggestions. Men were created to work not sit around playing video games.

    Also, I would suggest being careful of what you say to your husband or about your husband during this time. There have been several times that I have thought I was encouraging my husband and in fact my words were very discouraging and hurtful. Those were times that I was speaking from emotion. If there’s something you really feel that your husband is not seeing, pray about it first and God will let you know when and how to speak to your husband. Most men who are not working, esp. if they are not working at all, feel very much like failures. So, you might want to be sensitive to that dynamic.

    Above all, know that God will always provide for your needs.

  • Asmith says:

    The #1 suggestion on this list is half your battle. Please take heed to that advise. In many situations in our lives we have seen the Lord work when my husband and I have been in agreement. May the Lord bless your family and seek him on this journey.

  • jeannine says:

    pay off ALL DEBTS NOW! Have a yard sale, sell at consignment stores whatever you can to get more cash to pay off any debt especially unsecure debt.

  • Heather says:

    You and/or your husband could also use this time to take classes and training to improve your chances of employment in your field.

  • Emily says:

    I am so glad that you have this great time frame in which to prepare, while I have never experienced this hardship myself, I often think about what I would do in a time like this. Here are some of my suggestions to you:

    1. Pray – ask for guidance, patience and humility.

    2. Talk – tell everyone you know, especially your fellow church members so they can be praying for you and your family. By informing your friends and family, this will have many open hearts and ears to the ground for opportunities to pass along to you.

    3. Reflect – what are your weaknesses when it comes to saving money or earning more money? Find someone you know who is very successful at those skills and ask them for their help and advice. There are so many resources available that you may not be aware of and they are the experts.

    4. Promote – And then on the opposite side, what are your strengths? Can you bake/cook, entertain children, or are you a fantastic organizer? Barter with friends to cut costs you didn’t even think about. Do you have a friend that is a hairstylist? Ask if she can cut your family’s hair in exchange for a family sized meal you prepared from your stockpile or so many hours of free babysitting, etc.

    5. Prepare – Losing a job can be stressful. The more organized you are, the less anxiety you will have as that D-day approaches. Remember to eat well and exercise. Have open communication with your husband and children, know this is no ones fault and no one is to blame. Prepare a checklist of everything you can think of that you need to change and tackle several of those items daily so it is not too overwhelming.

    I hope and pray that the answers will come to you and your family soon and peace will cover you. Thank you, Crystal, for offering a place for us to encourage and lift up one another!

  • One way to pick up extra money is to buy things at yard sales and resell them on ebay. I make enough to cover our household expenses like food, clothing, and supplies. This would take the pressure off your husband plus while going to yard sales you can buy things your family needs on the cheap! I’m sorry that this is happening to you. My husband lost his job two years ago and we had zero income for over 3 months. My yard sale to ebay reselling kept us out of debt and kept our heads above water. I have dedicated my blog to helping people learn to do it, too!

    • Katie says:

      Hi, I love your blog. I love the articles on ebay but I like your “Sunday Best Series” the most. I love the dresses etc you find and the alterations you do to them – please post more.

      I can’t believe how great the clothes look – mine you – you have a great figure so a bin bag would look good!

  • My family is currently going through a layoff and I can justify your concerns to come. Unfortunately, we were only given 1 week notice. With currently zero income, and no solid job prospects, it is definately a struggle. I just wrote an article called “A Reality Check”, which gives 10 lessons, peeves, and eye-openers for individuals facing hardships, such as a layoff. Feel free to check it out! Hope it helps!

  • Caitlin says:

    I think these are all great suggestions, but I cannot understand the mindset that being jobless is helplessness. These are first world problems, and while thinking of having no income may be troublesome, getting rid of some luxuries may be what keeps you afloat. Count your blessings– if you have a roof over your head, water running to your faucets, and a refrigerator, you’re better off than 80% of the world. Everything else is added comfort.

    • Tammy says:

      If my brother in law lost his job and his wife works she would be helpless.It is scary the first time it happens and for us just an annoying glitch that goes away in about 3 months.Husband has had 6 job loses in a little over 5.5 years.All were layoffs with no advance notice.One place sent a Fed Ex letter stating the contract was cancelled before beginning.

  • Lela says:

    I would expect that they may let you go SOONER rather then later.

    • Andrea Q says:

      I so agree! The company will close completely in 8 months, but some people will likely be let go much sooner as things wind down.

  • Stephanie says:

    Prep as though the job will be gone tomorrow- a friend was give four months notice of his layoff and it turned out be 1 and a half months notice. They had already starting dealing with giving the kids a heads up, resume updating, paying off bills, getting a lower rate on the mortgage, noting unemployment requirements and a bare bones budget. Anything you can do now will make life easier later.

  • Teri Capshaw says:

    This all sounds like great advice, but one area I would advise you look at closely is how much stockpiling you should do. I keep basic staples on hand to cover most of our needs for six months to a year. However, I don’t do more because I know that my husband could likely get a new job quickly, but with his specialty it would more than likely require a cross country move (like we did going from Idaho to Virginia when the plant he worked in closed in 2009). In this economy it’s important for our family to have money available to cover moving expenses so he could apply for more jobs rather than only looking at those with relocation packages. For other families stockpiling a lot makes sense.

    Also a great resource to get now is the book “What Color Is Your Parachute?” It’s updated each year with great job seeking advice and how to best spend time/money looking for a job. It has some amazing information.

  • Brighid says:

    I would also add that you should consider either eliminating any stock ownership and extra 401(k) contributions if you think you can afford it.

    If you know that you or family members are going to need any expensive medical or dental work, consider doing it now. If you have a health reimbursement account and you *know* that your husband will be still employed in 2012, then it might be time to do it during the first months of 2012. (Of course, increase 2012’s HRA account to take those expenses into account.)

    Make sure that any reimbursable expenses are submitted as quickly as possible and are paid in the same way!

    If you have children, check out those yard sales soon for next spring’s clothing needs.

    If your husband works in a field where there will be a sudden increase in the number of qualified people looking for a job, take that into consideration when thinking about new jobs. Maybe it’s time to think about adding to his skill set.

    We went through the same experience though with far less notice last year. There’s a lot to do, whether it be learning the unemployment application process or how to use LinkedIn. I’m glad you have the time available to you.

  • suzie says:

    Eight months is a good amount of time in which you can do a lot. And the best part is that if we are prepared, we might be able to avoid the situation altogether.
    Update husband’s resume, keep networking and search for another job side by side. You never know, he might find his dream job. Every situation is an opportuinity to find something better.
    Try getting a part/full time job for yourself too. Two incomes would be great.
    Stop spending except for food and most basic needs.
    Save money as much as possible.
    Stockpile some nonperishable healthy foods that will support your family for a year. Nothing fancy. Just the basics.
    Be positive. Everything happens for good.

  • Amy L says:

    Everyone has given such great advice and ideas!
    Just a few things I might add…. if you current donate to any groups or causes (financially) you might want to think about holding off on any further finanical donations until you are back on stable ground… offer your hands as help instead. Some people might just get uptight about that idea – but honestly – if you can’t take care of your own family, you should not be trying to take care of others.
    If you have children, ask around for things like hand me downs…
    If you have a large circle of extended family or friends who don’t have children in school, ask them to save you things like Box Tops for Education or Campbell’s soup labels… you can sell these really easily on ebay.
    If you don’t already use things like Swagbucks, BeRuby, Mypoints or ebates… now would be the time to consider using them to save up points for gift cards for the holidays.

    Hang in there! 🙂

  • Melanie Brownsberger says:

    I am not sure if anyone else has suggested this. (didn’t have time to read everyone’s comments) but I would suggest that you pray and ask for direction from God. And remember that he is always there for you even when times get rough.

  • I didn’t read the replies, but if this is going to affect whether or not you have health insurance, dental, etc., get any and all checkups, physicals, etc. beforehand if at all possible. It can make a big difference!

  • Jessica says:

    My family went through a similar event when my job relocated out of town. Assuming your insurance will be impacted, I would recommend everyone gets their physicals, check ups, dentist visits, shots etc. Minimizing drs visits (and co pays) during unemployment and dealing with any lingering issues well before the lay off was helpful for us. You may have COBRA in time, but even that won’t last forever. Also, make sure you are taking advantage of ANY benefits your husband may have now before you lose them (reimbursements etc).

    Good luck!

  • Melissa Rice says:

    I’m a mom of 2 little girls who is working from home to replace my teaching income so I can stay home full time. I love teaching moms, small business owners, and families the secret to earning a genuine, ethical paycheck right out of their home. I help families trying to get out of debt, moms wanting to stay home, people trying to beat the economy, or individuals affected by downsizing. You can check out my website at I’d love to show you what I do!
    Blessings! Praying for you,

  • Brandi says:

    Many areas also have clothing exchanges. If you have kids, this is great because you can take the old clothes and pick out new ones at no cost!

  • Suzanne Mendoza says:

    This is all great advice everyone! Paula, my heart goes out to you and your family. When I read this I thought you were talking about me! I work for a large healthcare organization and was just told on Thursday that our call center would be closing in 8 months as well. I wish you and your family well.

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