Financial advice for surviving a job loss

Whether you are laid off indefinitely or your position is terminated altogether, losing your primary source of income can be terrifying. Being proactive from the get-go can help you maintain a more comfortable lifestyle until you replace your lost income. Here are some tips for getting by when the unexpected happens.

Be up-front with your creditors. Contact your lenders to see if you can negotiate lower payments or otherwise alter your payment terms temporarily. If you have student loans, for instance, you can generally put your loans into forbearance or defer them due to financial hardship. Many creditors will require proof that your income has changed, so be prepared to offer documentation.

Give up services that you can live without. While it may be painful to go without Netflix, satellite or cable TV, a lawn service or other luxuries, trimming these unnecessary costs can help you preserve your savings and have more money to put toward necessities. Some suggest giving up your cell phone or home Internet, but if these are your only points of contact for potential job offers, it is probably worth it to keep them connected.

Consider a less expensive form of transportation. If you have a hefty car loan and expensive insurance, downgrading to a used vehicle may be a good idea. Better yet, if you have access to public transportation, consider getting rid of one or more automobiles altogether.

Alter your grocery-buying habits. If you tend to shop wherever it is most convenient, you are probably missing out on big savings. Pay attention to circulars to find the best deals on the foods you purchase the most. You can also get more bang for your buck by shopping at discount stores and by buying staples like rice, beans, and flour in bulk. Use your time off to learn some new recipes; cooking from scratch can save you lots of money.

Do not turn to your credit cards unless you truly have no other options. Racking up significant debt, especially for non-essential expenses, will simply make it much harder to catch up when you find a new job or return to your old one. Save these lines of credit for true emergencies, such as car repairs.

Find a way to make extra money, however little. Use the free time you have left after searching for jobs to perform side jobs like lawn mowing, tutoring or giving lessons. Advertise your services in free classifieds, Craigslist or local bulletin boards.

Apply for help from the government. Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Look into your options right away, because in some localities, unemployment doesn't kick in immediately. Also, investigate services like SNAP and WIC, depending on the size and composition of your family. These programs provide debit cards or vouchers for purchasing food.

Unemployment can be a difficult and stressful time for your family. With these tips for making ends meet, however, you can reduce your struggles and stay afloat while searching for your next source of income.

Managing Personal Finance