Saving

4 Money Moves to Make After a Job Loss

Credit: Tetra Images—Daniel Grill | Getty Images

When it comes to financial shocks, losing your job is a big one. There’s no sugar-coating that. But some of the early moves you make can help create a safety net that helps you get by while you look for your next job.

If the news of layoffs this year seems especially bad, it’s not your imagination. General Motors. AT&T. BuzzFeed. Tesla. Verizon. Sears. More companies have been announcing job cuts in recent months, says Andrew Challenger, a vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In January alone, U.S. employers announced plans to eliminate almost 53,000 jobs, according to the firm’s data.

But the overall job market is strong, he says. If you find yourself unexpectedly looking, there are still a lot of opportunities out there—in some fields, there are more open jobs than employers can easily fill. (CNBC has a state-by-state guide here.)

If you are part of a layoff or otherwise lose your job, here are some moves to help you soften the financial blow:

1) Read before you sign.

Your now-ex employer may present you with a bunch of different documents to review, such as a resignation letter or (if you’re lucky) a severance agreement giving you pay and benefits for a set period.

Put down the pen.

You don’t have to—and shouldn’t—sign anything right away, says Donna Ballman, an employee advocacy attorney based in Fort Lauderdale.

Among other potential problems, fine print in that paperwork can affect your ability to file for unemployment or get a new job at a company your former employer considers a competitor. And once you’ve signed, you’ve agreed to those terms, meaning your ability to negotiate for a better deal goes out the window, she says. (More on that, below.)

Before you sign, at the very least look over the documents yourself at home once that initial shock of losing your job has worn off. Better yet, take the time to loop in a lawyer to decipher the legalese and tell you if there are any red flags.

The American Bar Association pointed us to two resources where you can look for free or low-cost legal help in reviewing such documents: There’s FindLegalHelp.org for local legal aid offices and, in some states, ABA Free Legal Answers, which lets you send questions for a lawyer to review online.

2) Figure out your ‘exit costs.’

Get a sense of what your last paycheck might look like, depending on where you are in the pay cycle. Ask when you can expect that money—it may not be on the next payday, says Ballman.

It’s also important to find out how the company handles different benefits, if that isn’t laid out in your exit paperwork. For example, state law varies on whether companies have to pay out vacation time you’ve earned but haven’t used. I wrote a guide on CNBC (read it here) on where you might lose money when you leave a job.

Another big question to ask: When does my health coverage end? You’re probably paid up until the end of the month. But it’s an important detail to know—especially if you have upcoming doctor’s appointments, says Janet Stanzak, a Certified Financial Planner in Minneapolis.

3) Ask for a better deal.

Once you know what the company is offering, see if you can negotiate the terms to better fit your needs, says Challenger. (If you’re part of a union, it typically does that bargaining on behalf of members. If you’ve consulted a lawyer, she can help, too.)

“Sometimes it’s hard to move that headline number [on pay],” Challenger says. But the company might be willing to reimburse you for unused vacation days, extend your health insurance coverage, or offer resources and training to help you find a new job.

4) Steady your finances.

Look to see where you can stretch your dollars. Go over your expenses to see if there’s anything you can cut back on, Stanzak says. Earlier this month, we offered tips to help negotiate your bills as you recover from a financial setback—and that’s a smart strategy to use here, too.

Then take stock of all your resources, including any severance benefits from your company and savings you might have, she says. Start looking into whether you qualify for unemployment insurance—and if you do, get the ball rolling. That assessment can help you figure out how to make the most of your cash until you land a new job.

EMAIL US

We’d like to hear the financial goals you’re fired up about and the milestones you’re hoping to achieve. Let us know your best strategies and successes. If you need us to tackle a specific topic, just ask! We’re in this together, so let’s get this conversation started. Send an email to getgrowing@cnbc.com.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns

GET STARTED

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2019 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.