How To Survive a Job Layoff

I’ll never forget how devastating it was to lose my first job.

At 22, it felt like my entire world was falling apart.

With limited experience and savings, I was terrified to start looking for more work.

When I was laid off again last week, I felt a lot less panicked. Ten years after my first job loss, I’m a lot more prepared—professionally, emotionally, and financially.

Losing your job doesn’t have to lead to financial catastrophe. Here’s the survival guide I’m using to tackle my recent layoff.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

Prioritize Self-Care

As tempting as it may be to drink more wine, lay around, or binge on junk food, it’s probably not going to make you feel better.

Instead, make daily exercise and healthy eating a priority. Try relaxing with yoga or meditation. With more time, it shouldn’t be difficult to squeeze in.

Evaluate the Direction of Your Career

As shattering as a job layoff can feel, it’s an opportunity to evaluate your path.

I’ve been struggling to balance blogging, freelancing, Certified Financial Planner® classes on the side of my day job for over six months. I’ve known for a long time helping creative people with their money is my long-term goal, and now I have the time to pursue it 100%.

If your company is offering any type of career services coaching, don’t pass up that opportunity! A coach can help polish your resume, LinkedIn profile, and offer exclusive access to recruiters.

Build Your Bare Bones Budget

Exactly two years ago, I wrote about the importance of a bare bones budget. Just before I quit my job, I figured out exactly how much I would need to survive.

  • If you haven’t been regularly tracking your spending, login to your bank and credit card accounts to take inventory of the past six months to one year of your expenses.
  • For effortless budgeting, consider a tool like Personal Capital. Their cash flow and expense tracking saves a ton of time!
  • Once you know how much you’ve spent each month, you can begin trimming the fat. Separating fixed and variable expenses may make this easier.
  • Completing this exercise can help you determine two things: 1) how long your emergency fund will last, and 2) how much income you need going forward.

Creating a bare bones budget is deeply personal. Only you know what expenses are essential. For example, in the past I may have cut expenses like personal training and acupuncture. But self-care is now a much higher priority.

Here’s a look at my bare bones budget for the next few months:

Spreadsheet of Expenses

Expenses that will / may change:

  • I’m losing my health insurance at the end of August, so I’m expecting an additional monthly fee of $200-$300 (according to Healthcare.gov). 
    • Two of my monthly prescriptions may increase with my new health insurance plan.
  • Finding a cheaper cell phone plan will become a top priority.
  • My trainer has generously offered to drop her fee to a sliding scale.

Spreadsheet of Expenses

Expenses that may change:

  • My electric bill will decrease significantly in the fall.
  • Once the weather cools off, I plan to avoid driving by walking or biking whenever possible.

Make a List of Upcoming One Time Expenses  

Do you have a general idea of what to expect over the next few months?

Making a list of upcoming one time expenses will help you prioritize what’s most important. I’ll be evaluating these expenses in the coming weeks:

August

  • Annual car insurance – $663
  • New glasses / prescription sunglasses – ?
  • Frye boot repair – ?
  • Brush removal – $100
  • New outfits for XYPN / FinCon – ?

September

  • Annual car registration renewal – $100
  • XY Planning Network Conference & FinCon – $1,500-2,000

October

  • Travel / gift for wedding in Massachusetts – $500

November

  • Travel to Colorado for Thanksgiving – $1,000

December

  • Annual dermatologist appointment & physical – ?
  • Travel to Massachusetts for Christmas – $500

Review Your Emergency Fund

I’ve talked a lot about the power of an emergency fund.

It’s taken me over a year to rebuild mine, and I’m so grateful it’s assisting me again.

My cash emergency fund is currently at $13,039.21. Based on my bare bones budget, I could cover my expenses for approximately 7.5 months.

This period of time may be reduced or increased depending on how many one time expenses I incur and how much freelancing work I pick up.

Review Your Sources of Income

Can you earn some extra money until you’re making a full-time income again?

A solid side hustle or part-time job can extend the life of your emergency fund.

Currently, I’m earning money several different ways:

  • Blogging (Ads, Affiliates, Brand Ambassador Gigs)
  • Dividends
  • Event Planning
  • Freelance Writing
  • Social Media Consulting
  • Virtual Assisting

Looking for some help? Drop me a line!

There are endless ways to make extra money!

Lean on Your Network

One of the biggest mistakes I made during my first layoff was not telling my network immediately. Once I swallowed my pride and started reaching out to my contacts, I quickly landed interviews.

Being laid off can be painful, so don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family for support. Many of them have probably been through a similar situation, and may have an arsenal of their own job layoff survival tips.

Readers: How have you successfully survived job layoffs?

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Discussions — 69 Responses

  • Pia @ Mama Hustle August 1, 2016 on 8:09 am

    I’m sorry to hear of your layoff! It’s great that you already have a plan in place to pursue goals that your day-job has been interfering with.

    My husband’s company is being acquired at the end of the year and it’s not clear yet whether his job will survive. We’re buckling down on cutting expenses, paying off debt, and saving just in case!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Pia @ Mama Hustle August 6, 2016 on 5:36 pm

      I’m sorry about your husband’s challenging work situation, Pia. It sounds like you’re making the right moves! Worst case scenario, you have to tap your emergency fund. Best case scenario, you’re in really great financial shape moving forward.

      Reply
  • Preston @TheDrunkMillionaire August 1, 2016 on 8:46 am

    Sorry for your (bad?) news. It’s good to see you didn’t resort to throwing back whisky like I likely would in this situation. Great points on how to prepare for this potential setback- we are only as valuable as our ability to land the next job. I think I would even consider delivering pizzas in the evening to keep a positive cash flow were I to loose my job tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Preston @TheDrunkMillionaire August 6, 2016 on 5:35 pm

      Hey, I never said there wouldn’t be whiskey! I am in Nashville 😉

      Thanks for the encouragement, Preston! I’m definitely going to pick up some additional work to help preserve my savings. I’ll be assessing what makes the most sense in the coming weeks.

      Reply
  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach August 1, 2016 on 9:21 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your layoff Kate! 🙁 I love that you seem to be taking it in stride and seem very well prepared. I couldn’t agree more that circumstances can change quickly or unexpectedly and the more prepared you are, the better equipped you are to handle it. Let me know if there is anything I can do!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach August 6, 2016 on 5:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Tonya! I’m feeling pretty good overall. Losing your primary source of income suddenly is never fun, but a solid emergency fund really helps cushion the blow.

      Reply
  • Mrs. CTC August 1, 2016 on 9:39 am

    I’m sorry you got laid off! But nobody can accuse you of not having a plan, and a good one it seems. It’s all about being prepared.

    I love the point you make about self care, it makes all the difference in the world if you can face your problems in good shape, both physically and mentally.

    Good luck, I hope things will turn around for you quickly!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Mrs. CTC August 6, 2016 on 5:32 pm

      Thank you so much, Mrs. CTC! Yes, I’m really trying to prioritize self-care. Some days will be easier than others, but I’ve seen how much of a difference it can make.

      Reply
  • Melanie @ Dear Debt August 1, 2016 on 9:52 am

    This is great advice! I also got laid off when I was 22 and pretty much did everything you said not to do lol. I think you are in a strong position with your finances, budget and skills to handle this like a BOSS. You rock, girl!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Melanie @ Dear Debt August 6, 2016 on 5:29 pm

      Thank you so much, Melanie! Your support and encouragement mean a lot 🙂

      Reply
  • Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope August 1, 2016 on 10:19 am

    You really are impressively well-composed about the layoff. The last time I was fired was from a waitressing job in my early 20’s. It was far from a financial disaster, but it was shocking and upsetting.

    I truly believe that everything happens. With all of this foresight and drive, this is definitely just another step on your path to a really awesome future.

    Best of luck to you!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope August 6, 2016 on 5:29 pm

      I was the exact same way in my 20s! It’s amazing how much easier it’s been the second time. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  • Danell Underwood August 1, 2016 on 10:46 am

    Sorry about your lay off. I was laid off a little over a year ago myself and because of planning and having a nice emergency fund, was able to not freak out. Sometimes these things end up being for the best. I’d check out Republic Wireless for a cell phone. I pay less than $20 a month and yes, it’s a smartphone. I wrote a post about some of the pros and cons here, hope it’s okay to share the link. Remove it if not. http://www.thesmartandfrugalpath.com/republic-wireless-right/. They’ve made some changes just this month with their plans and phones, but they’re still a really inexpensive option and I’ve been really happy with them. Depends upon where you live though, I’m sure.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Danell Underwood August 6, 2016 on 5:28 pm

      Thanks for sharing this resource, Danell. I’ve heard great things about Republic Wireless. I’ll have to check them out!

      Reply
  • Lorin @ My Story Defined August 1, 2016 on 11:48 am

    Even in a situation that most would consider bad you have chose to see the positives in it. Now, you can focus more on your blogging and freelancing which is awesome. I appreciate you sharing the changes you will need to make and am sure this will impact someone greatly.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Lorin @ My Story Defined August 6, 2016 on 5:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Lorin! I’ve learned so much from other personal finance bloggers over the past few years. I’m happy to share the rough patches in my own journey. I hope it’s helpful to someone else!

      Reply
  • NZ Muse August 1, 2016 on 6:45 pm

    Argh, sympathies! Sounds like you’re in a great place though and it could just be the pathway to the next great phase.

    (Never been laid off, but have seen partner through some.)

    Helping creatives with money is a seriously awesome idea and wish you all the best!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore NZ Muse August 6, 2016 on 5:25 pm

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! I’m really stoked to finally be pursuing my dream full-time 🙂

      Reply
  • Dollar Engineer August 1, 2016 on 10:07 pm

    Damn Kate the job loss sucks, but you really are prepared this time around and sounds like it may turn into a blessing down the road. I love the bare bones budget idea and I have thought of that myself in a similar fashion for my emergency fund. Good luck with future opportunities! I’m sure your blog is going to skyrocket now.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Dollar Engineer August 6, 2016 on 5:25 pm

      Thanks, Dollar Engineer! I highly recommend building a bare-bones budget. It’s helpful when assessing how much you really need in your emergency fund. Plus, it’s great to regularly assess what’s really an “essential” expense.

      Reply
  • Athena August 1, 2016 on 10:58 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your layoff. I’ve never been laid off per say but I have been fired, back when I was 21. It wasn’t a complete shock since I wasn’t a model employee ( at all), but I could have handled it way better than I did.

    This sounds like you are thinking ahead and taking care of yourself, which is especially important during these times. I wish you the best of luck Kate!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Athena August 6, 2016 on 5:23 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Athena! I was laid off around the same age and it was devasting. I wasn’t professionally, emotionally, or financially prepared for it. But it was an important lesson to learn so early in the career.

      Reply
  • The Green Swan August 2, 2016 on 1:32 pm

    Sorry to hear you’ve been laid off! Sounds like you are very well prepared for this situation, kudos to you on that. Will you be getting any help from a severance package or are you aware of what unemployment benefits you’d be qualified for? How about prospects for full-time employment elsewhere? Sorry for all the questions. You seem very cool, calm and collected given the situation. I probably wouldn’t be handling it as well. Thanks for sharing and best of luck!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore The Green Swan August 6, 2016 on 5:22 pm

      Great questions, The Green Swan! The company offered a generous severance package, so that definitely helps. After that, I’m probably just going to focus on my own projects for a while. Completing my CFP classes is my top priority, along with continuing to build Cashville Skyline. I may consider full-time employment in the future, but I’m pretty excited to work for myself for a while. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  • Sarah Li Cain August 2, 2016 on 1:36 pm

    Network is key. If not for the possible opportunities, but more as a way to just have someone to talk to. And I love the idea about a bare bones budget, not sure if a lot of people think that, even if is kinda “common sense”.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Sarah Li Cain August 6, 2016 on 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! I totally agree with you. My network has helped me get almost every job and gig I’ve had. The support has been amazing so far!

      Reply
  • Deacon August 2, 2016 on 3:27 pm

    I love the idea of creating a “bare bones” budget in scenarios like this. Sometimes it is hard for people to figure out what needs to get paid during a job layoff and that is super helpful. Great tips!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Deacon August 6, 2016 on 5:17 pm

      Thanks, Deacon! Luckily, I had one handy from when I quit my previous job two years ago. I was encouraged to see my lifestyle hasn’t become more expensive since then 😉

      Reply
  • Jane Hardy August 2, 2016 on 8:16 pm

    Great information for a tough situation that happens to lots of people. Thanks for these very helpful tips, Kate!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Jane Hardy August 6, 2016 on 5:13 pm

      Thank you so much for reading, Jane! I’m really looking forward to working with you during this transition 🙂

      Reply
  • Holly Johnson August 3, 2016 on 7:16 am

    I haven’t ever been laid off, but I’m prepared if that ever happens! The key, like you said, is having a fully-stocked emergency fund and a plan that includes only essential bills.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Holly Johnson August 6, 2016 on 5:13 pm

      That’s awesome to hear, Holly! It must be comforting to have a number of different clients. It’s highly unlikely you’ll lose a bunch of them at once.

      Reply
  • Latoya @ Life and a Budget August 3, 2016 on 7:03 pm

    This is an awesome guide, Kate. While I have never been laid off, I would definitely use many of these strategies. So sorry to hear about your layoff, but it’s good you have a thorough plan and nice size ER funder to fall back on.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Latoya @ Life and a Budget August 6, 2016 on 5:11 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Latoya. My emergency fund has saved me twice in the past two years!

      Reply
  • Stefanie O'Connell August 4, 2016 on 6:58 am

    Having never had the security of a traditional full time job, I’ve lived by my bare bones budget. It’s so important that EVERYONE know that number for themselves!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Stefanie O'Connell August 6, 2016 on 5:10 pm

      Absolutely, Stefanie! I’m going to have to get comfortable with the bare-bones lifestyle for a while 🙂

      Reply
  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich August 4, 2016 on 9:08 am

    That stinks about the layoff but I’m so glad you’re well prepared for it! I love how you account for self-care. I feel like every time I’ve lived off a bare bones budget, it’s the first things that go and before long I feel like crap.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Mel @ brokeGIRLrich August 6, 2016 on 5:09 pm

      Me too, Mel. I’ve been guilty of cutting out the stuff in the past, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

      Reply
  • Nate August 4, 2016 on 9:16 am

    Check out Ting for a cheaper phone bill!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Nate August 6, 2016 on 5:08 pm

      Sweet! Thanks for the suggestion, Nate!

      Reply
  • Mr. 1500 August 4, 2016 on 2:28 pm

    Bummer. One door is shut, but I suspect better ones will open for you shortly.

    Colorado for Thanksgiving? If you have a moment and are anywhere near Boulder County, let’s meet up.

    See you in San Diego.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Mr. 1500 August 6, 2016 on 5:08 pm

      I’ll definitely try to swing by the Denver / Boulder area if I make it to Colorado in November. Looking forward to catching up at FinCon!

      Reply
      • Mr. 1500 Kate Dore August 8, 2016 on 4:40 pm

        That would be wonderful. We have an extra room too if you’d like to hang in our neck of the woods.

        Reply
  • Holly August 4, 2016 on 6:03 pm

    Having had the pleasure of working with you, I know that you will not only survive this layoff, but thrive in your new endeavors. You are talented, conscientious, and have an amazing heart. They’ll be lining up to work with you! ?

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Holly August 6, 2016 on 5:07 pm

      Thank you so much, Holly! I can say the same things about you! 🙂

      Reply
  • Kristin August 4, 2016 on 7:02 pm

    Sorry, Kate! I’ve been there. YES to all of these tips.

    I came up with a bare bones budget (which I called an “emergency budget”), evaluated my emergency fund and looked for other sources of income. All great advice. It ended up being a really liberating experience because losing a job was basically my greatest fear, and in the end, I survived.

    Another thing that helped was volunteering. You can only do so much job searching and evaluating–at some point, I wanted to get out of the house and feel useful, and volunteering really helped with that. It helped with networking and socializing, too.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Kristin August 6, 2016 on 5:07 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Kristin! I love your idea about volunteering. It’s been a while since I’ve had the extra time to give back, so I’ll have to check out the opportunities in my neighborhood.

      Reply
  • Finance Solver August 7, 2016 on 1:16 pm

    I am sure the company won’t know the asset they just lost, Kate. I’m sorry about the layoff and I agree, I got fired from an internship when I was in school and I was in shock. I definitely learned how to deal with a job loss and I was fortunate to have it happened to me when I was in school and not when I’m working full-time, when everything could be on the line. It’s so important to have side income to be able to not be dependent on your employer.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what was the reason you were laid off when you were 22? If you don’t want to share, I completely understand. I read your other blog post and I wasn’t able to find the information and was curious.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Finance Solver August 7, 2016 on 8:36 pm

      Great question! I always thought it was related to job performance, but then another team member was laid off a month later. A bunch of other changes happened shortly after, so I just figured my layoff was the beginning of a larger company restructuring.

      Reply
  • Jordann August 8, 2016 on 6:49 am

    That sucks about the layoff! But I must say, you are approaching it in a very calm and collected manner. I love that you have a plan in place and you are choosing to see it as an opportunity to finally focus on your passion projects.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Jordann August 8, 2016 on 9:46 am

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Jordann! It’s hard to believe it’s already been two weeks. I’m still feeling good about my circumstances and my plan for moving forward.

      Reply
  • Linda August 8, 2016 on 10:00 am

    Check out Republic Wireless for cell phone service. I have unlimited txt and minutes and some data ( I never use it, so I get refunded each month) for $12 dollars a month. I have the $19.00 dollar plan but get the $7.00 refunded. I initially had to by the phone but have saved the cost of the phone in fees since I no longer have my old plan.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Linda August 14, 2016 on 1:37 pm

      Thanks so much for the tip, Linda! 🙂

      Reply
  • Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds August 11, 2016 on 8:13 am

    I haven’t had a job lay off before, but it must be devastating. Sorry to hear about your recent lay off (and the past lay off too). You seem to have a good plan, and your emergency fund sounds good too.

    Why don’t you see if any of your friends have an outfit you can borrow for FinCon? 🙂

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds August 11, 2016 on 9:07 am

      Haha, that’s a great idea! We should do a clothing swap the night before FinCon begins. Thanks for the encouragement, Francesca!

      Reply
  • Kristal August 11, 2016 on 3:33 pm

    Oh I feel you pain! I was laid off last year and it can be hard no matter what. One of the things we did was to really take advantage of free entertainment. We went on a lot more hikes, rented dvd’s from the Library for free, more park days. I also changed our eating habits. Made sure to cook at home and looked for more frugal choices. It can be hard, but it looks like you have a good plan in action.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Kristal August 14, 2016 on 1:34 pm

      I’m sorry you went through a layoff, Kristal. I’ve really enjoyed living a more frugal lifestyle. I walk outdoors almost every day. And I’ve been cooking way more than before!

      Reply
  • Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama August 12, 2016 on 6:59 am

    Sorry to hear about you getting laid off, but you know what they say – “After a storm comes a rainbow” This may end up being a blessing in disguise, and it sounds like you have a good plan in place! I really like the bare bones budget idea too!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama August 14, 2016 on 1:32 pm

      Thanks, Ashli. My bare bones budget has helped me during two job transitions over the past two years!

      Reply
  • Frugal Millennial August 13, 2016 on 8:25 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about your layoff, but it’s great that you are so well-prepared! These are very helpful tips!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Frugal Millennial August 14, 2016 on 1:31 pm

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Jen! 🙂

      Reply
  • ZJ Thorne August 23, 2016 on 11:08 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the layoff, but I am so glad that you are in such a good position. You have these side hustles and the savings and the mindset to make amazing things happen in the near future.

    Reply
  • Financial Samurai August 28, 2016 on 12:15 pm

    One of my favorite subjects! Good tips. And to add one further, be proactive and mindful! If things are looking shaky, try and get yourself laid off with a severance!

    Best thing I ever did in 2012. My final deferred comp pays out in 1Q2017. Crazy stuff.

    Best,

    Sam

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Financial Samurai August 30, 2016 on 12:01 pm

      This is amazing, Sam! I’ve read about your severance before, but I didn’t realize you’re still being paid out through Q1 in 2017. So impressive!

      Reply
  • April September 14, 2016 on 8:15 am

    Sorry to hear about your job loss. Have been through it 3 times myself and it’s no fun. The only difference the losses occurred toward the end of my career rather than early making job hunting far more difficult. Question: You did not mention unemployment. Doesn’t Tennessee have a Unemployment program or does the money you earn outside of your “corporate” job earn you more money than allowable.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore April September 17, 2016 on 1:17 pm

      I’m really sorry you went through losing your job three times! Tennessee does offer unemployment, but I’m currently earning too much money (it’s a low threshold) to be eligible.

      Reply
  • Candice Marie September 27, 2016 on 4:27 pm

    Great post Kate, love how you really laid out your budgets. I need to take the time to do the same. Also glad you have enough money in your emergency fund I probably need to save more in that fund as well. Thank you!!

    Also love how you kept staying in shape and self care as a priority.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Candice Marie October 4, 2016 on 2:34 pm

      Thanks, Candice! Yes, self-care is huge priority for me. I didn’t always feel this way, but it’s becoming more important as I get older.

      Reply
  • Free Money Resolutions Course - Cashville Skyline January 18, 2017 on 12:47 pm

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