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How to Weather an Unexpected Job Loss

Written By Editor on 6/5/23 | 6/5/23

News of mass layoffs in major sectors of the economy has reignited interest in how to prepare financially for a job loss. If you’ve recently been laid off – or if you’re simply preparing for the prospect of job cuts at your organization – it can help to develop a game plan. Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

Reassess your financial situation

Start by reviewing your recent bank statements, current portfolio and upcoming financial obligations. Talk with your spouse or partner about how to reduce discretionary expenditures to ensure you meet all essential expenses such as mortgage, insurance, utility and car payments. Managing your budget carefully is critical in a period of job uncertainty. 

Understand your severance package

If you receive a severance package, be sure you understand the terms, timeframe and payment amount. Your deal may include several paychecks, reimbursement for unused paid-time-off or sick days, and stock options, among other possible sources of income. Consider reviewing the terms with a trusted attorney or financial professional, particularly if you have the option to negotiate your severance. Some companies also offer career coaching, human resources support or other non-monetary benefits that could be helpful in your transition and search for new employment. 

File for unemployment benefits

While government unemployment benefits aren’t likely to replace your previous income stream, they may help you meet your day-to-day living expenses while you are out of work. File as soon as you can, as there typically is a waiting period to begin collecting.

Manage your health care coverage

The loss of a job may also mean the loss of health insurance benefits. Take action right away to make sure you don’t experience a lapse in coverage. Unexpected illnesses or accidents can happen to anyone, and the financial impact can be significantly higher without the right insurance plan. If you received health insurance through your employer, you may qualify for COBRA insurance offered through the federal government. Costs, length of coverage and specific plan options (including coverage for your spouse, partner or dependents) may vary depending on your circumstances, so contact the U.S. Department of Labor or the Department of Health and Human Services for more information. Job loss is considered a qualifying event, which means you may shop the health care marketplace to find a plan that works best for you and your family. 

Keep long-term goals on track

To the extent possible, try to maintain making contributions toward your long-term goals, such as college or retirement. Even modest contributions add up over time, so continue to save what you can. Additionally, avoid dipping into your retirement accounts. Borrowing or withdrawing money from a 401(k) is taxable and will incur a 10 percent penalty fee. Further, you could also miss out on months’ or even years’ worth of compounding and potential market growth that can be challenging to make up.

Seek guidance from trusted professionals

Any change or interruption in your salary warrants a visit to a trusted financial professional. Meet with a financial advisor to review your financial position and determine what measures you can take during an income drought to minimize the impact on your portfolio. You may also consider meeting with a career counselor to plan the next phase of your career. 


Michael D. Lanuto, CRPC®, AWMA® is a Financial Advisor with S.M. Miller & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. in Albany, NY.  He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 7 years. To contact him: 518-949-2039; 4 Atrium Drive, Ste 200, Albany, NY, 12205;; 

Ameriprise Financial and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.

Investment products are not insured by the FDIC, NCUA or any federal agency, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser.

Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Member FINRA and SIPC.

© 2023 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

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