Since mid-March, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and millions more are worried about the future of their positions. This is particularly devastating when you consider the fact that more than two-thirds of workers across the country live paycheck to paycheck. Beyond that, these individuals typically work in service positions, including manufacturing and construction, which are the industries that could be hit the hardest.
Whether you have already been laid-off or experienced a pay-cut, or are just trying to plan for the unknown, follow this advice to prepare yourself and ease your mind.
If you have already been laid-off or recently had a pay-cut
If you are looking into filing for unemployment or underemployment for the first time, the very first thing that you need to do is educate yourself. Go to your state’s labor department website to see whether you qualify, what information you need to provide, and how to apply. It is important that you act quickly, but also keep in mind that it could take up to a month for you to start getting monetary assistance. You should be expecting delays in the process.
The next thing that you need to do is really take a hard look at your finances. Where can you make cuts to save money? Who can you call to see if they will overlook or delay a payment? Companies know that people are experiencing hard times, and many have pledged to help those who have been directly or indirectly affected by the virus. This includes your rent, your credit card, and car payments, your utilities, etc.
If you are worried you could be laid-off
If the coronavirus has taught us anything it is that, even if you have a secure job right now, things can change very quickly. If you have an underlying medical condition, consider applying for disability coverage now, while you are still employed. Depending on your plan, you might not get the same type of worker’s compensation if you happen to be terminated.
You should also be making plans for the future – but not making any rash decisions. It is important that you have a contingency plan in case you are fired. This could mean starting to try and work within a reduced income. However, experts generally agree that it is a bad idea to start moving around money in your retirement plans and other savings accounts, so avoid the urge to do so!
Know that you are not alone
Most everyone is feeling a whole range of emotions right now. It can be extremely difficult to have your routine turned on its head or to live with so much uncertainty. Just know that every emotion you are feeling is normal. When you experience anger or sadness, it is okay to acknowledge those feelings and to talk through them with family and friends – then, let those feelings go.