Losing a job can be one of the most stressful and emotional events that can occur for someone. The shock of losing your job can emotionally take a toll on you and your family and the financial stress of wondering how you are going to make ends meet can be overwhelming. If you have lost your job, I hope these suggested steps will help relieve some of the stress on you during this difficult time:
- Apply for unemployment benefits (if you qualify): In Alabama, you can file an unemployment claim with the Alabama Department of Labor online or by calling 1-866-234-5382.
- Apply for other financial assistance that may be available to you:
- If you live in Alabama and have a mortgage, apply for Hardest Hit Alabama (excludes anyone in an active bankruptcy) to seek mortgage payment assistance while you out of work.
- Visit my blog post titled “Alabama has various programs to help low-income families” to search for other financial assistance that may be available to you.
- Find new health coverage if you lost health insurance because of your job loss by selecting one of the following options:
- Visit Healthcare.gov to purchase health insurance through the marketplace during a special enrollment period, or
- Sign up for Cobra insurance by continuing to pay to be covered by your prior employers’ health insurance plan.
- Review all of your monthly expenses and eliminate any unnecessary expenses or subscriptions while you are out of work.
- Discuss your job loss with family and friends for two reasons: 1) family or friends may be able to help you out financially while you are out of work, and 2) they may be a great source for finding new employment.
- Prepare a new monthly budget based upon your current income (i.e., unemployment benefits, family assistance, emergency fund, etc.) and necessary expenses.
- Contact your creditors to see if you can lower interest rates or lower/defer payments for a period of time while you are trying to find work. It is better to communicate with your creditors upfront than trying to avoid them. NOTE: If you are in chapter 13 bankruptcy, contact your bankruptcy attorney to determine if you qualify for a period of forgiveness on your chapter 13 payments while you are out of work.
- Establish a plan for finding a new job:
- Visiting job employment websites or recruiters
- Start networking
- Update your resume
- Clean up all of your social media profiles by removing anything that could be construed negatively against you or just take the profiles down during your job search.
- If you have a 401k, do NOT cash it out or borrow funds from this account unless it is an absolute emergency. Instead, roll the funds over into a new retirement account.
- Finally, try not to get discourage in your job search and stay busy. Work as if trying to find another job is your JOB.
Mary Pool is a shareholder of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law. She has represented thousands of clients over her more than 11 years working in the bankruptcy field. Read her full bio here.