Cope with a Spouse's Job Loss
Edited by Maria Sharon Ubando, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn and 2 others
A spouse's unexpected job loss often results in a devastating financial and emotional impact. It's undeniably difficult and frustrating to deal with, whether you're now providing the sole source of income for the family or if you're unemployed, as well. Your marriage will be put to the test, especially if you've grown accustomed to a specific lifestyle or routine. On top of that, your spouse is most likely under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure, so you should provide as much support and understanding as possible. There is no question that this is a difficult time for all involved, and it's important to know how to balance your approach toward your spouse to get positive results.
One of the best things you can do is to find ways to stay financially afloat until your spouse finds a new job. Taking quick action and utilizing current assets can prevent you from having to dip into retirement funds, borrow money from relatives or use credit cards to get by. Work together and you'll come out of this situation stronger than ever.
How to Deal With a Spouse's Job Loss
You both need to accept that challenges come along in every marriage, and you'll have to decide that it's worth sticking with your spouse even during his or her job loss. You should provide support and comfort, and avoid placing blame for the job loss, even if it could have been prevented. Holding a grudge shows immaturity, and it's impractical if you wish to move on and formulate an effective plan for dealing with the situation. Take the necessary time for yourself to get over the initial shock, but you must fully accept the circumstances to eventually bounce back from them. Once you've done that, you can both work on clear-cut strategies to seek new and better work opportunities.
Get your financial priorities straight.
You'll most likely need to reassess your budget and cut out anything that's not necessary. Figure out how much money you'll need for your monthly bills, groceries, gas and other essentials, then adjust your budget accordingly. You might need to downgrade services or cut back on luxuries such as club memberships or expensive hobbies to make ends meet. If there's any money left over, make an agreement as to how that money will be spent or whether it will be saved. If possible, use that money to help pay any outstanding debts. Burying yourself in debt is one of the worst things you can do during a period of unemployment.
Always keep the lines of communication open.
Open up to each other and listen when the other person speaks. Share your thoughts, ideas and opinions. You need to work together to come up with solutions, so keep each other involved. This way, each decision you make as a couple will be well thought out and agreed upon. Effective communication helps you brainstorm and map out actionable plans for dealing with finances, getting a new job and improving marketable job skills. Keeping the communication lines open and getting every single family member involved makes every decision well thought out and agreed upon. The ability to freely challenge and appreciate each other's strengths and weaknesses is a healthy process that will encourage you both to work harder to overcome this difficult situation. Just remember to do so with respect.
File for unemployment benefits.
Have your spouse find out if he or she is eligible for unemployment, and apply for benefits with the state's unemployment office as soon as possible. Many states allow applicants to file by mail, online or over the phone, which makes the process more simple. Applicants typically must provide their name, contact information, social security number, driver's license number, military or veteran separation date, mother's maiden name, the name and contact information of the previous employer, the employer's federal ID number (found on W-2 or pay stub), dates of employment and the amount of income received while working for the employer. Applicants will also be asked about tax withholding from the unemployment check, the reason for leaving the previous employer and other related questions.
Let the children know.
If your children are old enough, you should let them know what the family is going through. You don't have to explain every detail, but let them know that there will be some changes in your lifestyle. For example, if you're used to ordering pizza weekly or going to the movies as a family once a month, that you'll be cutting back on those things for the time being. You can switch to cheaper, alternative forms of fun and entertainment. Rent movies, make some popcorn and share home-cooked meals together. Go for walks, have a cook-out or search the internet for free or reduced admission events in your area. Use this as an opportunity to instill the value of hard-earned money on your kids. Practice what you preach and your kids will surely follow your lead. If your children are still young, start early by teaching the importance of money and hard work. You can give them piggy banks and encourage them to save any chore money they've earned for rainy days.
Focus on the positive.
Count at least 10 good things that you're thankful for every day. While it may be hard to appreciate the positives when you're faced with such hardship, remember that this situation is only temporary and you can get through it with each other's help. Just watch for signs of depression, such as feeling lethargic, changes in appetite, mood swings, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, anxiety, lack of interest and difficulty focusing. If any of these feelings persist for more than a week or two, it might be best to contact a mental health provider.
Make use of available assets.
If you don't have emergency funds available, you might need to find other ways to get quick money. If you own a home, you can refinance it to get some extra cash. You'll need good credit, equity and a history of on-time payments. If that's not an option, rent out the basement or a spare bedroom to earn some extra income, if possible. If you don't own a home, sell any items you can that aren't valuable to you or your family, such as old electronics, books, clothes, accessories, collections, DVDs, old baby furniture and toys. If you're investing in mutual funds, accept cash dividends. Assessing what you currently have and coming up with ways to profit is always beneficial, and it might prevent you from having to use credit cards or borrow money from your retirement fund or relatives.
Start job hunting.
Let friends and family know that your spouse needs a job, and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything. Assist in the job search process as much as you can. Help your spouse create a winning resume, or do a quick job search when you have time. The more people you have on your side, the better, since jobs tend to fill quickly. Encourage your spouse to treat the job search like a real job - and keep track of each application or job lead in a notebook or on the computer so that he or she can see their progress.
Start a business or offer freelance skills.
If you and your spouse have any special marketable skills and an entrepreneurial spirit, you can even start a small business from home. A small residential cleaning service or making and selling crafts are both relatively inexpensive to start, but it might eventually grow into a booming business. If your spouse has good writing, editing, data entry or computer skills, he or she can advertise their skills at online job boards to find projects in the meantime. If your spouse has a wealth of knowledge in a specific subject such as math, science, English, a foreign language or history, tutoring might be a good option.
Recent edits by: Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Lynn, Eng