What To Do If You or Your Spouse Lose Their Job

Getting the ax is pretty scary to think about, but it's quite possible. Use these tips to prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario.

By Lisa Peterson

The month of November saw the biggest loss of jobs in nearly 30 years. It feels like only a matter of time before the bad news hits closer to home, if it hasn't already. If you or your spouse has lost a job due to the ailing economy, you may be wondering what to do next to keep your finances afloat and to keep your lack of employment from negatively affecting your marriage. Here are the first steps you should consider.

Avoid Tension

Generally, layoffs are happening because of the troubled economy, not because these employees have been bad at their jobs. Keep this in mind and don't blame your spouse for losing their job. Especially if the primary breadwinner was laid off, the dynamic in the relationship can change and, if you are not careful, negativity can be introduced into your marriage. Make a pact to keep your marriage blame- and negativity-free during this tough time.

Review Your Medical Insurance Options

You have most likely also lost your employer sponsored medical insurance along with your job. You may be offered the option to obtain COBRA insurance through your employer. This can be quite expensive. Before deciding, have your spouse call the Human Resources department for their company and ask how much it would cost to add you to their health plan. You will need to act quickly, since you may have a limited time to consider joining your spouse's plan. Once you determine your best option, secure your new insurance right away.

Work Together To Spruce Up Your Resume

Spend time together thinking about your strengths and accomplishments and put together a strong resume. Don't be embarrassed about or tempted to hide the job loss from others. Instead, leverage both of your professional networks to find out what jobs are out there. Both of you should tell everyone who will listen about the job you are seeking. Don't forget to spread the word on the social networks you may be a part of. The reach of your friends there often go much further. You never know where you will find your next opportunity!

Consider Temporary Employment

While you are figuring out your next step, you and your spouse might consider freelance work in your respective fields to bring in some extra money. Freelance work may actually open doors to permanent opportunities by introducing you to new people and companies.

Save Money On Daycare

If you and your spouse have kids, you can save a lot of money by canceling the daycare while you are looking for permanent work. The cost of daycare these days is often a significant portion of income, and easing that financial burden while you are unemployed may help your finances stay afloat.

Buckle Down And Learn To Live On One Salary

Use this job loss as an opportunity to reduce your expenses so they can be covered by the remaining salary. Once the two of you are back to full-employment again, you will be in a great position to save large amounts of money each month and make a big impact on your goals and your future together.

Next:Is a 'Work Spouse' a Good Idea? >>

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Lisa J.B. Peterson is the founder and president of Lantern Financial, LLC. (www.lantern-financial.com), a comprehensive, fee-only financial planning firm located in downtown Boston. Lantern specializes in helping clients in such areas as debt and cash flow management, investment, insurance, tax, retirement and estate planning. Additionally, Lantern Financial recently launched Harmoney, a service helping engaged couples communicate more effectively about money and navigate their pre-marital as well as marital financial lives.

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