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How to financially deal after you've been laid off
Been there, done that, still holding a grudge
Hi, I’m Renée, a finance and business journalist, writer and content strategist. The Budgette is about single finances and publishes twice a month. I prefer to write when I have something to say versus writing because I have to. It gives me time to speak to financial, legal and other experts.
You don’t have to be a paid subscriber, but if you feel like this is useful info, more paid subscribers = more time and resources I can devote to doing more of it.
I got a request to write about how to rebuild your finances after you’ve been laid off and I plan on writing that after I speak with some experts. However, I wanted to cover how to manage your money right after you’ve been laid off because one informs the other.
Many tech companies have been laying off people while paying their CEOs millions of dollars. While that is a whole other topic, one thing remains, getting laid off sucks. I know because it happened to me several times, thanks to working in media in the 2010s.
*Pauses as her media friends nod*
As usual, none of this is legal or financial advice, but here’s what I’ve learned from my experiences. I live in Ontario so I encourage you to look up the employment laws in your state or province. Some lawyers will offer a free 30-minute consult, so ask about that.
Do not sign any paperwork from your company until you’ve had the opportunity to read it in a non-stressful environment or consult with an employment lawyer if that’s something you choose to do. Even if the company says you have to sign back by a specific date.
A good lawyer will tell you if the offer is fair based on several factors such as the labour laws in your province, state, region, age and experience.
Next, or before or even during, grieve and be angry about your situation because it’s sad and infuriating. You worked hard and this is what happens? Feel your feelings.
Let’s talk money now because you have bills to pay even if you no longer have a regular income. There are several elements to consider:
Your emergency fund
If you get one, try to get it as soon as you can. That way you know how much you’re getting after taxes.
If you still have them, use them up as quickly as you can. Book your eye, dental and medical appointments so you don’t have to pay for them out of your own pocket. Let the company pay for them. It’s more money for you to cover your bills.
Your emergency fund
If you have one, take a look and familiarize yourself with the amount in it.
Apply for them ASAP. It may take you some time before you get them, depending on how severance and employment benefits work in your region. So get your record of employment (or make sure your company has sent it) and apply. Even if you don’t need them.
Understand how they work, including how much you’re allowed to make during a reporting period. Otherwise, you may have to pay back some of the benefits.
Pare it right back, for now. So look at what you absolutely need: shelter, food, transport and bills.
I say right now because you need an idea of how much you absolutely need to live on during this transition period. Can your severance, employment benefits and emergency fund cover that? And for how many months?
You may not need to pare back to your bare-bones budget but at least you know the number.
Now, should you pause your retirement savings as well? There is no one answer here but the advisers I’ve spoken with said it’s better to reduce the amount you put towards retirement versus stopping contributions entirely. That’s because you will have to catch up or delay retirement. (If you retire. Don’t @ me.)
Write a nice message about the company on LinkedIn
You do you. I’m not the sort. Help your former colleagues get jobs? Yes. Thank the company after being laid off? No.
Just don’t burn bridges. Industries get smaller the longer you work in them. At some point, you will end up working with someone again. I’ve done it three times already.
Next issue: you’ve got a new job, how do you rebuild your finances?
This week’s readings:
I did a thing: theZoomer: Decoding Retirement Expenses Planning for Financial Freedom. (Zoomer)
Why job searches suck right now (Business Insider)
Canadian financial institutions are fuelling the climate change crisis (The Conversation via Yahoo!)
Posthaste: Canadians' dream of a simple retirement at home faces some major headwinds (Financial Post via Yahoo!)
Old but evergreen. Everyone wants a tip now. Do you have to give them one? (Vox)
Massive TFSA overcontribution lands taxpayer in trouble with the CRA (Financial Post via Yahoo!)
The Primary Breadwinner Is Disappearing From More Homes (wsj.com, paywall)