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.

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