I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Poor Person's Day to Day Guide: what to do when Laid off/Fired/Quit

Do you have a game plan for when you suspect you might be laid off or fired?

I read the Lay off drill conducted by The Red Stapler Chronicles. Great ideas. However, to me the list in incomplete. RSC left out a few things or should I say this Drill is for people who are a little more financially secure than the rest of us. Now if you are one pay check away from disaster, have I got the list for you. I want you to have the mentality of "I am one paycheck away from..." If you lose your job in this economy you need to go into survivor mode... It will help you survive.

I present to you - The Poor Person's Day to Day Guide of to what to do when you are Laid off/Fired/Quit.

Week One

1. Day One - Cry - it is okay take the whole day if you have too. Call people, unburden yourself. You will feel better. Talked to someone and still feel like a failure? Angry or grief stricken? Call someone else. Eat all the comfort food you want. No one will blame you. Break dishes. This is your only full day for self-pity. You can have an hour or two once a week after but set a timer.

2. Day Two - Find your local Food Stamp office. Yes I said it. "But Spendthrift, I'm not poor!" or "I would be too embarrassed." If you don't have a job, and don't know when you will start another... Have children? Have to pay rent or mortgage? APPLY. Depending on your State they will waive a certain amount of money in the bank, your car and any other assets you have. You do not have to be destitute to apply. Going now will give you a sense of accomplishment that you have done something productive. Even if they just give you another appointment, you are doing something to provide for your family. You are conquering your situation. Call or go online and see what paperwork you will need to bring in ahead of time - this will save time and a headache. Do not get discouraged if you don't have certain papers - they will give you time to provide them. Do not get discouraged if they want a lot of stuff, take it. Think to yourself - I am doing this for my family. While at the Food Stamp office:
a. Apply for TANF - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. - One Word, Cash.
b. Apply for food stamps - Even if you have food, even if they will only give you a portion of the full amount. That food stamp allocation is a little less that you will have to worry about. A little less cash out of your pocket when every penny will count.
c. Apply for Medicaid (for the whole family) - Can you afford COBRA payments? My health insurance premium more than tripled from $150 a month to $600 for me and the kids, for just me alone it was $350.
d. If you have children under five, apply for Women's Infant and Children (WIC). This is a supplemental food program that is to ensure small children and women receive adequate nutrition. They provide vouchers for milk, eggs, juice, legumes, cereal and for babies breast milk. (just kidding Similac or the equivalent)
e. Apply for Child care assistance
f. Apply for Rental assistance
g. Apply for every service that is offered you may qualify for, it will not make you a Welfare mother/father. It will provide you with a hand up until you are back on your feet.

3. Day Three - Find your local Unemployment Office/One Stop Center - Apply for unemployment (even if you think you won't get it) Depending on where you live, Unemployment can be determined by several ways. You can earn credits for the length of employment. Even if you switched jobs. If you were employed for two years or more straight then you may qualify. If your state goes by income, you still may qualify it will never hurt to apply.

4. Day Four -Now Assess your financial status - Review bank accounts, bills, child support, all incoming and outgoing. Now trim thirty percent. Automatically.
Got student loans. Now is the day to call and ask for forbearance or deferment.
Utilities - cut off the lights. Got fixtures with four bulbs take two out. Drop blankets behind doors. Seal your windows. Turn the thermostat up/down three degrees. Put on a sweater, take off the long sleeves -adjust yourself for the temperature.
Cable - cut all premium channels, turn in extra boxes. Call to bundle or unbundle services. Which ever will save you money.
Subscriptions - Newspaper, Netflix, Blockbuster, video games - call and cancel or if they allow place on hold.
Telephone -Have a cell and a land line? Decide now which number you will use on your resume. Now turn off the other phone. "But Spendthrift, we need a home number for… - I can't get rid off my cell because…" I don't want to hear the excuses.
Internet - this should be your last cut. I know "I need the Internet for job searches". Unless you live twenty miles or more from a library then you don't need it.
Daycare - You can cut this one, if you have someone who can watch your child while you interview or if you get temporary work.

5. Day Five - Update your resume. Print fifty copies. Find a document carrier - manila folder, portfolio, large envelope, etc. Put in the purse/bag/backpack you carry everyday. Never leave home without it until you have a job. Now scour the phone book for temporary staffing agency. Call every one listed. Describe your skills. Most will just give you an appointment, have you come in and take test - typing, math, Excel, Word, PowerPoint. Take the tests. Every time you test will make it easier for you to test again. Once a week call these agencies to see if they have any opportunities. This shows them that you are eager for work. They will remember you (and your persistence) if an assignment becomes available.

6. Day Six - Get a library card; have one already pay fines and fees to ensure unrestricted use. The library is the best free resource you can access. Free Internet, you may have to wait for a computer but many libraries are WI-FI enabled. Take your notebook computer and you can work all day. If you are out of the house you are reducing your utility usage and saving yourself a couple of dollars. Books are available on every topic you will need for the immediate goal - job hunting, resume writing, books on Excel, Word, HTML many will have companion training disks. Use this downtime to update your skills on subject matter that pertains to the position(s) you will be applying. Pick up a movie to watch once you have completed your job search.

7. Day Seven - Now is when we begin the real JOB search. You have reduced expenses hopefully, and maybe possibly have resources coming in. Set a firm goal of how many jobs you want to apply for daily (yes I said daily). It is your job to find a job - do it daily. Picked twenty didn't you? Reduce it by five. Remember HR people can be exceptionally picky now. They want to know that you care about their company and will be a good fit. Research their company, know what they do …Do they manufacture? Do they service a product? Do they sell? Are they a non-profit? See all that information is time consuming to gather. Now custom fit your resume and cover letter to match the advertisement. Take key phrases from the job announcement and use similar words and descriptions in your resume and cover letter. Also create a table/spreadsheet to track your job search. This should be the minimum information you log:

a. date you applied,
b. what position you applied for,
c. who you addressed cover letter to,
d. company website URL,
e. where you saw the ad,
f. method of application i.e. online.

I will return with Week Two later.


  1. Dang, you can write a book on this

  2. Seriously, you recommend applying for government assistance and then KEEPING THE CABLE???!!!??? I make a great living and don't have cable. Waste of time and money. Basic Netflix membership is <$10 a month, basic cable is, like, $50. Not that I want you spending my money on either of those, but given the choice it's obvious that Netflix is the answer.

  3. Hi Anon,

    Some people like myself can't just call and drop the cable because our services are bundled. If I unbundle my services my bill will go up because I will be subscribing to internet and phone separately.

    Also if you keep reading through all the weeks I suggest people stay away from television because it is a time drain.

    Thanks for reading.