Tips to Stretch Your Budget and Benefits After a Job Loss

Whether you’re downsized, laid off, or just plain fired, losing your job is a traumatic event. The following tips can help you stretch your budget and your benefits to cover family needs until you find another job.

* Cut costs wherever possible. Try not to incur additional debt. Work with your credit union to gain access to an emergency line of credit, or to restructure current debts.

* Ask if the company allows severance pay. It varies depending on years of service and type of job held. You may budget better with salary payments than with a lump sum payment.

* Negotiate the severance package. If your spouse can purchase health coverage, consider dropping health benefits in exchange for additional severance pay.

* Weigh COBRA benefits. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, is a federal law that allows you to retain health care coverage at group rates for up to 18 months, but you must pay the full cost.

* File for unemployment immediately.

* Ask for outplacement services. They help you find potential new jobs, create a professional resume, register with employment agencies, and prepare for interviews.

* Check on vacation and sick pay. Employers must pay any vacation time owed when the job is terminated.

* Roll over retirement funds. Ask us at Hopewell Federal about investment services that assist you to roll these funds into tax-sheltered retirement accounts to avoid significant tax penalties.

Taking Care of Aging Parents, Relatives

If you live long enough to watch your parents or other relatives grow old, your responsibilities in those relationships are likely to shift.

Sooner or later, you’re likely to move from continually receiving their gifts—emotional, physical, or financial—to giving of your own time and effort to help meet their changing needs.

Get real
Experts say most people are overly optimistic about their ability to remain fully independent as they age.

Many people eventually need some type of help, ranging from occasional home maintenance to nursing care.

When people wait too long to discuss long-term care options, they sometimes can’t find the right level of care at the right facility when their need becomes urgent.

Start talking
Start talking now to learn about your aging parents’ desires and options.

One way to get started is looking for conversational “triggers,” such as chatting about a neighbor’s move to an assisted living facility or sharing a brochure about elderly housing options.

Next, shift the conversation to your parents’ plans and preferences by asking “gentle” questions while avoiding the alarming words “nursing home.”

Instead, learn about local options and then visit facilities with your parents. Figure out what they can afford by looking at their budget. If necessary, decide how much you can contribute. Talk to siblings to gain their input and learn whether they can help.

Watch and listen
Seek answers to these questions:

* Are my parents handling financial paperwork, or is it stacking up?
* Do my parents need help with everyday tasks they used to handle themselves?
* Are my parents taking care of their health? Are there signs of incontinence?
* Are my parents able to get around, both within their home and in their community?

When adult children live far from their parents, getting answers may require an extended visit or talking with siblings who live nearby or with the parents’ neighbors.

Plan ahead
As parents’ needs increase, adult children may need legal authority to act on their parents’ behalf. A health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney typically provide this authority. You also should gather information about parents’ financial accounts, assets, insurance, wills, and health care directives.

Throughout the process, remember to listen carefully to the wishes of elderly parents and then respect their desires as much as possible.

That process benefits everyone involved: By showing respect for your parents’ preferences now, you’ll be better prepared to someday share your own wishes with the next generation of caregivers.

When it’s time to start making financial decisions about the changing needs of your family, a professional at Hopewell Federal Credit Union would be happy to speak with you. Contact us today at 740.522.8311.

Surviving the Loss of a Job

The loss of a steady paycheck or consistent income can quickly change anyone’s day-to-day reality. Although unemployment levels are improving, 5.3 percent nationally and 5 percent in Ohio, more than 2 million Americans have been jobless for more than six months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite this statistic, 52 percent of Ohioans surveyed in the Mid-Year 2015 Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, said they are only prepared to cover up to three months of essential expenses if an unexpected job loss happens to them

Fourteen percent said they could live for 3-6 months in the event of a job loss, while only 11 percent of respondents said they could cover expenses for 6-12 months. In order to prepare for an unforeseen event such as losing a job, consumers should consider putting away at least 10 percent of net income monthly into a savings account.

Here are some tips to getting back on your feet following an unexpected change in job statue.

• Visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website. This website is a good resource for obtaining new employment, unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, and health benefits. http://jfs.ohio.gov/
• Consider borrowing from current investments. There may be a tax or other penalty, but when income abruptly stops, one option to consider is borrowing from your 401K, Roth IRA, or insurance policy. It can help keep your head above water until you find employment and keep you from having to take out a loan or running up the balance on high-interest credit cards.
• Consider temporary job options. If finding work is taking a while, a temporary job can help bring in some income while you’re still seeking a permanent fit.
• Check with a credit union. If you’re out of work and need advice, a credit union can help. These not-for-profit financial institutions believe in helping consumers afford life by offering benefits such as lower interest rates on loans, flexible payment options such as skip-a-pay to help in a crisis situation like a job loss, higher savings deposit yields, and fewer/lower fees compared to banks.

To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.