Millions of Americans have lost their jobs this year — a crushing effect of the pandemic — and unfortunately there will be layoffs still to come, potentially crippling people’s finances.
In the beginning of October, American Airlines and United Airlines announced mass layoffs were imminent. American said 19,000 jobs would be eliminated; United estimated 13,000.
Disney Parks announced it is laying off 28,000 people — more than a quarter of its total workforce.
So if you’ve lost your job, or expect to be let go in the coming months, you need to take action immediately. If you’re like most Americans and don’t have a cushy savings to fall back on, there are steps you can follow to make sure you don’t find yourself in a dire situation.
1. Apply For Unemployment Insurance
First things first: Get your unemployment insurance handled. It can be weeks — or longer— before it takes effect, so the sooner you apply, the better. Even if you haven’t been laid off yet, see what you will need now so you can hit the ground running later.
Each state has different requirements, so check the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to see how to get started where you live.
2. Reduce Your Expenses
It’s too easy to put everything on your credit card and say you’ll deal with the balance later. But if you’ve lost your job, depending on credit cards (and their high interest rates) can set you up for even greater debt later.
But by scaling back on your expenses now, you can avoid detrimental interest payments and reduce the impact on your emergency fund while you’re looking for a new job.
One of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.
A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826 a year. That kind of money could make a serious difference for you between jobs.
All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.
3. Get a Bridge Job
The silver lining to this latest round of layoffs is the timing, with many companies kick-starting their seasonal hiring to prepare for the holidays. A part-time gig for the next few months could help pay your bills and avoid too much damage to your savings account.
Walmart, FedEx, Kohls, Gap and more are hiring hundreds of thousands of workers. Target alone has 130,000 seasonal openings. Amazon has 100,000 permanent openings to fill.
While it may not be your dream position, a bridge job can help you navigate the financial difficulty of losing permanent income — plus, it’s great interviewing practice for your permanent job hunt.
Getting laid off can put you in a scary position financially, but if you’re smart about your first steps after cleaning out your desk, you can make sure your bills are still paid and your savings account isn’t hit as hard.