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How to Deal With Losing Your Job

How to Deal With Losing Your Job

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The boss just walked in and gave you the worst news.  Management decided to lay off some staff.  Your department is being closed and you will be on unemployment (if you’re lucky) in less than two weeks.

This scenario happens every day to someone.  Every day, someone has to go home and tell his/her family that things are getting ready to be turned upside down.  Eventually, when shock passes, coping with stress begins and the realization hits: I NEED A JOB! In today’s world, that isn’t usually an easy task. What do you do?  Today, I’ll help you (or someone you love), get through this mess, and maybe even come out on the other side with a great story to tell.

Some Clear Thinking

As scary as everything may seem, anxiety and worry aren’t the answers.  As Seth Godin wrote, “anxiety is just practicing failure in advance.”  Instead, let’s get some clear thinking and a solid grounding in reality.  First and foremost, you and your family need to eat.  So let’s start with how to best make that possible.

The formula for a budget is very simple:


The fewer unknowns you have in that equation, the better off you’ll be.  So…the first thing to do is make sure to capture every expense you know is coming.  Then, make sure it is a necessary expense before you pay it.  Cut everything to the bare minimums because the income is either gone, or greatly reduced.  Once that’s done, you’ve tackled the expense piece of things.

From there, budget like someone who is on commission-only sales pay.  How? In addition to the list of all your required ongoing expenses, make a list of your other priorities that will cost money.  Just take out a blank sheet of paper to list priorities and costs.  Since you’ve done a good job of capturing all your expenses, you know how much (bare minimums) income you need to receive to stay afloat.

Do everything you can (without breaking the law…sad I feel the need to add that) to bring in at least that much income and then distribute it accordingly.  Any extra you can bring in should be spent according to your list of other priorities.  Those are totally up to you.  Maybe it is savings, maybe it is something the kids need but you’ve put off – this is totally based on where you know extra money should go.  See here to learn more on budgeting when your income is inconsistent.

Be Prepared

If you’re the “average American,” you are living paycheck-to-paycheck and making payments on everything under the sun because you were too impatient to save up for that stuff.  That’s no way to operate. So what if you’ll get unemployment benefits for a while.  Don’t let that be an excuse to be lazy. I pay my taxes to support plenty of people who are in the midst of unemployment and are working for all they’re worth to get out.  I gladly support them.  But I also pay my taxes to support plenty of people who are too lazy to work…and that infuriates me!

If you are spending everything you make today, STOP.  Save for the emergency that will eventually come.  Live on a budget and get out of debtBuild some discipline in your finances.  Doing this now is a lot easier than doing it when you’re forced to by a crisis.  Trust me – you’ll make MUCH better decisions now than you will when you’re desperate.

How to Find a New Job

This one is tough and there are hundreds (probably thousands) of books just on this topic.  All I’ll say here is that you have two options:

  1. wait for something to happen
  2. make something happen

Don’t give me your excuses on, “but I just can’t do anything because _[insert excuse here]_.”  I’m not buying it.  Charles Schwab said, “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.”  That’s some pretty good advice.  If you were spending 8+ hours per day at work, you now have 8+ hours per day to look for work.  Don’t give depression or frustration enough time to enter your situation. Use your contacts to network.  Use social media as a tool to reach out (but be careful it isn’t a time-waster).  Make sure your resume, CV, portfolio, etc. are all up to date.  Read 48 Days to the Work You Love and/or No More Dreaded Mondays, two fantastic books by Dan Miller that will help with all that.

Make the Most of It

When will you ever get another chance to spend at home with your spouse and/or kids?  When will you get the chance to re-invent yourself (if desired), or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to take up?  This isn’t a vacation, but it sure is a lot of newfound “free time” that you need to fill.  You need to be productive, but you also need to make sure that your spouse and kids are loved on and that you recognize this is an opportunity you won’t likely get again anytime soon.

Lastly, but most importantly, recognize that you are more than your job.  You are God’s creation…and no job can come close to how amazing you are when you realize the value you have in Him.


I’ve put off writing this post for a very long time.  Why?  Because God has been gracious enough to keep me steadily employed and I didn’t feel worthy of sharing my thoughts on this subject.  But then more than a dozen people recently reached out to me over the course of a few days who were struggling with this issue.

If you’ve recently gone through a rough job change, a job loss, or other similar situation, would you please help me out with something?  There are SO MANY who need you.  Fill up the comments with your encouragement to them.

*This post is linked at Clever Chicks at The Chicken Chick, at Show Me What You Got at Our Delightful Home, at Teach Me Tuesday at Growing Home, at Hearth and Soul Blog Hop at Premeditated Leftovers, at Wonderful Wednesdays at Ducks in a Row, at Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts, at Show and Share Wednesday at Mostly Homemade Mom, at Wednesday Whatsits at White Lights on Wednesday, at Works for Me Wednesday at We are That Family, at Thriving on Thursday at Domesblissity, at Thrive at Home Thursday at Live Called, at Pin Junkie Link Party at The Pin Junkie, at Freedom Fridays at My Turn For Us, at That’s Fresh Party at Fabulous Mom Blog, at Best of the Weekend at The Mandatory Mooch, at Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters’ Stuff.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Barry

Barry is the husband half of the Stacy Makes Cents team, responsible for all the marketing, website development, sanity management and taste testing. Barry writes about personal finance issues, helping people get out of debt, live on a budget and make the most of every cent that comes into their hands. He is the author of From Debtor to Better: The Details of Debt and How to Get Out! and writes periodically on his own site, Debtor to Better.


  1. great piece

  2. I was informed the evening of Dec 24 that the company I was working for was unable to continue operations as of January 1. I’m a single parent in the truest sense of the word, and you can imagine the shock. I’ve since started up 3 different businesses, and while I am working A LOT I feel 2014 is going to be my best year financially to date- and while the stress is new and different, this too shall pass… and I know things will be better then ever because of the new skills I am developing, the fact that I am out of an “office job” and while you work harder for yourself then you ever will for anyone else- I know that once things are running and I am to the point where I have employees to duplicate my efforts I will have more time flexibility (though I suspect more hours) then I ever had in a 9-5 with commute times. Creativity counts- and where God closes a door, he opens a window!

  3. 5 years ago during the midst of all the heavy job losses.My husband lost his job of 33 years! Going from a one income family to a no income family over night is very scary. My husband spent very long hours scouring the internet for jobs as we found the local job service to be a little to no help! They wanted to place him in $7 an hour jobs and we had bills to pay. I started do odd jobs on the side to bring in a little money, and quit my volunteering as we both felt if I was working there needed to be a check involved. We were getting unemployment for 4 weeks before he found a job. The hardest part was he moved 800 miles away to this job, and I stayed here with the kids, and continued to work odd jobs and went back to some of my volunteering. 2 years ago he found a job that is now only 2 hours from home. It does not pay as well, but we get to see each other again and he can spend weekends at home with me and the kids. Sadly I think this is probably where the job issue will stay for us, but we will make the best of it. We had purchased what we wanted to be our retirement home and we were unwilling to sell it and go elsewhere.

    • Wow. This is a HUGE sacrifice. I hope it will ultimately be worth it. Thanks for sharing your story that tough choices are sometimes the only choices for your situation.

  4. This article could not have come at a better time. My husband just got laid off, and I will lose my job in a matter of weeks. Unfortunately, mine was a big business decision by a greedy company. I have my resume ready and I am working with the local career link to find a new job. The time off does sound wonderful as I have worked for 22 years straight. However, the thought of not having a regular paycheck scares me. I am going to be picky about the job because at my age (60) I really want something that I enjoy doing. My severance will help with medical insurance and pay off a credit card and some much needed car repairs. I plan to read Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work you Love. Thanks for the great article.

  5. When my husband was unemployed, he was willing to do any kind of work to support our family. He began mowing grass with a friend from church even though he was not accustomed to “manual” labor and driving the zero-turn mowers. (He knocked off several mailboxes while turning and zigzagged his way across the street with several cars waiting for him to figure out the mower.) He eventually worked for a computer company and learned what he needed to in order to work his way up to management. All that to say… do what you can with what you’ve got, or what’s available!! Our church family was a huge support to us also. They provided job opportunities as I have mentioned, but also helped with our needs. We were expecting our second child when all of this occurred, and after a failed attempt at home birth we ended up at the hospital. Our church gave us the exact amount we needed to pay our midwife, which we still felt obligated to pay. We were humbled by God’s grace and provision (and continue to be).

  6. Thanks for writing this! We’ve been there at least twice as a family. The first time because my husband missed a lot of time at his (new) job because his his back being thrown out and also because of his hands and wrists getting randomly swollen (he polished metal so he needed his hands). This was before we figured out that what he ate had everything to do with his back problems and his swollen joints. The second was when he was let go because he wasn’t learning the work fast enough (drafting rebar). He has another job now, but we’re praying he won’t be let go because of his repeated days of missed work due to vomiting (not sure why… we’re trying everything with his diet; maybe it’s neurological?). The Lord has been good to us and he is still working! :)

  7. I also found Pastor Douglas Wilson’s “Ask Doug” series on “Man & Work” to be VERY helpful! Here is what he said: “I’m fond of saying that when the first settlers got here to Idaho, there were no jobs. Zero jobs. No one was offering any kind of employment whatever – no jobs. There was plenty of work, but no jobs. And we have gotten to the point where we’ve got something of a slave mentality. We think it’s the President’s job to create jobs. Is there work to do? Is there work that needs doing? Not, Is there someone who has already taken the risk and set up an infrastructure and offered me a job? Is there work that needs to be done?”

    It’s just a bunch of short Q & A’s about the subject. You can see it here if you’re interested:

    You’ll see the rest of the series under “Related Posts”, starting from the bottom with “Man and Work: Why Work? (Part 1)”

  8. I have been without work for almost 3 years. I took the opportunity to finish my degree. I am now a certified teacher and waiting on that permanent job God has for me. I have been subbing and even had the opportunity to fill a couple leave of absences. On the days I don’t work, I use that time to keep my house in order for my family and use some of the many crock pot and freezer meal ideas I have found here and other places. I did go through a depressed and unworthy stage but God got a hold of me and I’m here today to say I’m happier than I ever thought possible. I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to lose my job(sounds funny) so that God could use me for greater things. I’m also grateful for a supportive husband who has been there for me all the way! Thank you so much for this website. It has been a life saver for meals and budgeting.

  9. I am a Registered Nurse who used to work in Critical Care. On a warm morning in August I awoke at 330 in the morning to a stroke with left – sided weakness , blindness in my left eye, and difficulty swallowing. After 3 solid months of very rigorous physical, occupational, and speech therapy I was able to return to work part time with progression to full time as I could. I went through occupational health and warned my supervisors ahead of time that I would have to start out part time and advance as the Doctor permits. { I actually warned my work place one month into my recovery that when I came back I might have to start out part time and advance}. It was arranged that I would return to the ICU on a certain morning in November to refamiliarise myself with the unit then go about the business of resuming life as usual. After being on the unit for 30 minutes I was called to the office and told there was “no part time position available” and told that if I could not return full time immediately I would have to start looking for work “in the system”. I was sent home and my position was posted and given away. I was absolutely devastated. I had worked in that facility for 26 years and in that unit over 20 years as a Charge Nurse. My work record was excellent and I was an Award – winning Nurse. Meanwhile, I was able to continue drawing short term disability while looking for work but as of January I was cleared by my Doctor to return full time. I notified the hospital and told them and again I was told that I would have to look for work in the system and they refused to help me. Although I was still technically an employee I was again told I would have to apply and hope I get hired. On Feb 3 of this year I will be terminated if I don’t find work in the system. My disability pay ended 2 weeks ago..
    So now, I will begin again. My story is horrific but I choose to look forward. Lucky for me, early in my recovery I found your website and others like it and made preparations in case something went wrong. I hoarded my disability money and made every buck squeak. I took frugality to a whole new level before I even had to. So now, despite everything, I have money in the bank, 4 pantries and 2 freezers full of food,{ I am a Prepper } enough to tide us over for months if necessary as I look for work.
    I might add that my husband is self – employed so his income waxes and wanes but we have learned to live with that. We also own rental properties and we have NO DEBT! So, considering everything it could have been much, much worse for us and I am grateful to the Lord for always being there with us through all of this.
    p.s. I might add that I have decided not to look for work in that particular system. I am too good for them {ha ha}!

    • What a story! Good for you for being “too good” for them. I’m glad you prepared yourself as best you could for this tough situation. I’m sure you’ll have great stories to tell as you continue through and eventually out of this mess.

      • Guest Nurse says:

        I will keep you posted Stacy !

        • As a fellow RN, this makes me very sad. To know that we go into this profession to help others in their time of need, but not have kindness reciprocated is discouraging. As I get older, I think more about illness limiting my career. It sounds like you are doing well without your employer’s support- way to go!!

  10. Thanks for this post. Over the last week I have been involved in the potential sale of the company I work for, which would probably result in me being out of work. I’ve been with this company for 8 years, pretty much my entire professional life. It didn’t really hit me until I was at home yesterday that my life is about to get turned upside down.

    Thankfully I have savings and the current plan calls for anyone laid off to receive generous separation packages. The unknown is a scary place though.

  11. A little over 4 years ago, I was told that the company I worked for would be moving about 6 hours away. Since my husband had just started a new job, I would not be able to transfer to the new location. However, 2 weeks after that news, we found out that I was pregnant with our first child. Even though I looked for something from the time I got the news until about 2 months before I was due, nothing became available to me. Thankfully, my husband’s job is able to provide for all of us without my having to work, and I have been able to stay home with my son for over 3 years.
    In that time, I have applied for different jobs as they came up, but nothing happened. Then 2 1/2 weeks ago, I got a call out of the blue from an attorney looking for a part-time receptionist. He had gotten my information from his brother, who I had interviewed with before Thanksgiving, but didn’t get that job. I really think this is a God thing, because I didn’t initiate anything for this job. It was all on their end.
    I have now been working there for a week, part-time, in the mornings. My son is in preschool for 3 of those mornings and mu husband has worked out his schedule so that he is home for the other 2 mornings. Right now, all the money that I will be earning is going to go straight to savings for a potential out-of-state move in the next year or so. The best part is, my employer knows we are looking to move and hired me anyway!

  12. Kari the Sweetest Memory says:

    I was laid off after Thanksgiving and although it was not the best time, I looked at it positively. I was able to have a more relaxing time off with family. I am still looking, and hope a new job comes soon. I know things happen for a reason. I have been laid off before, but I have always had a better opportunity come along. It might take a little time, so be patient and persistent and good things will come! Thanks for the good post.

  13. It was smart to put that last paragraph in, because my evil twin was muttering, OH YEAH! What does HE know about THAT?! 😉

    I have a personal story that might encourage people to do a little out-of-the-box thinking.

    My husband was self-employed as a real estate appraiser in the Las Vegas area since college. Vegas was one of the two worst hit areas as far as real estate in the 2007 “decline.” Our home lost 70% of its value–70%! That’s a ridiculous number. Most of our appraisal buddies filed for bankruptcy within a year. We didn’t. We held on and kept the business going for five years, living off our savings/emergency fund, paring back the already realistic budget, struggling to get other businesses off the ground, etc. Eventually, however, it was obvious that there was no more squeezing water out of a rock. That emergency fund only lasts so long, after all.

    It was a difficult time. We were expecting our seventh child. Our firstborn had just been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Our children were homeschooled, and putting them in the local schools was not an option. Our plan to pay off the house within five years turned to a plan of surviving for five years. Dealing with a floundering business, struggling to get a new business up, trying to find time to school the kids, and nurturing a seriously ill child was stressful…beyond stressful, really.

    We didn’t give up.

    In January of 2012, my husband turned to a “hobby” to support our family of nine. He had been a part-time contemporary Christian musician for several years and had two Nashville-produced CDs made when times were good. When times were bad, we traded our home for a life on the road as a full-time traveling music missionary family. We have been traveling music missionaries for two years now. Yes, that means we have no house, no place to store food, no prep plan beyond a shotgun and our home on wheels, and no roots. Yes, that means we are a listener-supported entity, living off of CD sales and donations at events. Yes, that means our girls won’t go to prom, thank the Lord! Yes, that means we have had to say goodbye to our introverted natures and step out of our selves to look instead at the needs of others. Yes, that means we have to travel the country with our daughter who has an auto-immune disease. Yes, that means sometimes we scrape together the food money. But we are living a good life, serving our God, growing together, and serving the needs of people everywhere. We have learned what it really means to trust God when our personal world offers no security. Plus we have a front-row seat to watch the amazing providence of our God as He takes care of His people.

    We didn’t give up, didn’t put our seven homeschooled kids in school, didn’t lie down and die. We also didn’t get to keep our home that we built ourselves, because you can’t support a home and a music mission on what we make or on the time we have. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen to leave our house behind, but you know what? We certainly wouldn’t go back.

    God has something in mind with these hiccups in life. Maybe you won’t become a missionary, but maybe you will reach people in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise. Who knows! Well, God does, so that’s good enough, don’t you think?

    If you’re curious, our family travels are documented at, and the music mission is

  14. Guest Nurse says:

    Update: I am the Registered Nurse that lost her job after having a stroke. As of today I am employed again by a very understanding company that is allowing me to work as I feel like it. I can work 1 shift a week or I can work full time hours if I want to ! They have several younger, inexperienced nurses and they said I would be a great asset in teaching the new nurses and leading by example! I have also talked to the EEOC and I have been told that my civil rights were probably violated so I have filed charges with the EEOC against the hospital. I am not out for revenge. I just don’t want them doing this to anybody else! God is good!

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