How to Survive a job Loss

Losing a job is discouraging and most of the time it is unexpected.   Maybe you are going through this very thing right now. You may be wondering how to survive a job loss.

how to deal with a job loss

If you have ever been in a position where you have lost a job, you know how it can send panic and anxiety straight to your heart.  Your mind can start running a million miles an hour trying to figure out how you are going to pay your bills and support your family.  We’ve experienced job loss in our family in the past and at first we didn’t know how we would get by.  However, there are so many things you can do to survive a layoff.

An emergency fund can go a long way to easing the burden for times like this.  I talk about the importance of an emergency fund in THIS post if you want to read about building up your own savings, but I realize not everyone has an emergency fund in place before they encounter a crisis like losing a job.  So, the question you may be wondering is what to do when you lose your job and have no money?


Stay calm and make a plan.  It’s easy to panic when you are not sure how to survive a job loss, but as a person who tends to panic, I can tell you that it doesn’t produce results.  The best thing you can do is stay calm, and start making a plan of attack.  Write down how you will be cutting costs after your job loss, how you are going to find another job, and what you can do or where you can go for help if the situation drags on and you run out of money.

Stop spending on any extras.  You are going to want to immediately start cutting costs after a job loss.  Anything that is NOT a necessity needs to go for the time being.  Food, your rent or mortgage, electricity – those are all things you need to keep paying for.  The cute shoes at the mall and the coffee drive thru, however, should be put on the back burner for now.

Cut your grocery bill and eat at home.  Eating at home falls in line with the first point of only necessities, but you can also cut your grocery bill when you are budgeting after a job loss.  Switch to cheaper brands, and make cheaper meals.  For some of the absolutely cheapest meal ideas that still taste delicious, read What to eat when you are broke.  Also check out 10 Ways to save at the Grocery Store for tips on how to cut your bill.

Apply for jobs immediately.  When you lose a job your new full-time job should become looking for employment.  Put resumes out anywhere and everywhere you can think of.  Be sure to take whatever job you can get to fill in the gap.  Some people refuse to work at places like fast food or retail because they were trained in other areas and feel they would be taking two steps back if they took whatever they can get.  When you need to pay the bills, you need something to fill in the gap.  If you want a job that pays better and in your field of study, continue to look for a job you will enjoy more while you are working at that fast food restaurant, or gas station – but don’t NOT work because you are holding out for a certain job.  It’s true when Pa Ingalls said, “Every job is good if you do your best and work hard.”

Start a side hustle.  Whether it be babysitting, taking surveys online, cleaning homes, or mystery shopping, there are so many ways to make a few extra dollars when times are tight.  Years ago I delivered papers for about 6 months.  Did I love it? Not at all.  Was it necessary at the time?  You betcha.  Sometimes we gotta do what gotta do to make ends meet.  For some side hustle ideas, check out 10 Legitimate ways to make Money Online or 17 Side Hustles to Make Money.

Apply for unemployment.  Sometimes you can hit the ground running with your resumes and find a job in a few days.  Other times, no matter what you do, nothing turns up.  If you’ve looked for a job for awhile and there just isn’t enough money, that is what unemployment is for.  While no one particularly enjoys having to go on unemployment, it was created for situations such as unexpected job loss.  If you need it, it’s there to help you.  When deciding whether you need to apply for unemployment, remember that it often takes a few weeks before you see a cheque, so make sure to plan for that.

Get help with food.  In Canada we have food banks, in the States as far as I know it’s called food stamps.  Again, these are other programs that many people can feel embarrassed to utilize, but the purpose of their creation was to help people in need in times such as this.  Do whatever you can to cut costs and pick up another job, but if the situation has become dire, that is what these programs are there for.  Do not feel shame in needing to use them.


If you lose your job, although it can be tough, try to not take it personally.  Yes, there are times that people lose a job because of something they did wrong and if that is the case then you will want to improve on that area of yourself in the future.  But I can tell you without a doubt that I know many, many people who have lost a job not because of something they did, but because of cutbacks in the company, re-organization of departments, new management taking over and changing things up, or downsizing.

Knowing how to survive a job loss can be difficult, especially if you have never experienced losing a job before.  However, you CAN get through it.  I also believe that even though we might feel like losing a job could be the worst possible thing to happen to us, it can sometimes lead us to greater things.

Our family experienced a job loss 9 years ago and at the time it felt pretty shocking and devastating as we had just bought our first house in a new city and had two kids under 3. But if that event had never taken place there is a good chance we wouldn’t be where we are today .  My husband is settled into a career that he enjoys and I work from home.  Things could have been very different had we not had to learn how to survive a job loss all those years ago and been forced to start on a different route.  Sometimes you can look back at your life and see how every event was actually a step closer to a brighter future for you.

So remember that sometimes when hardships occur that a lot of good can come out of in the end and it can set you on a better path that you never originally intended to go on.


Related:  Should you Retrain for a new Career?


1 thought on “How to Survive a job Loss”

  1. “Food stamps” in the US is the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. You can apply and get a set amount of food assistance depending on your income. The rules vary by state for qualification, but you can only buy “cold” food with it–nothing “hot”. (This is why Papa Murphy’s pizza can charge you $12 in SNAP benefits to hand you a pizza you take home and bake.) No alcohol, no toilet paper or soap, nothing like that. JUST food and drinks. Yes, you can purchase junk food with it like Cheetos. No, you can’t buy beer with it. Yes, you can buy Kool Aid and sugar with it. No, you can’t buy a hot rotisserie chicken from the deli. The rules are kind of weird for SNAP. Always have been, here.

    We also have food banks, but they’re often via faith organization or a local charity. They are usually overstretched, and two within the same neighborhood (rare) may have different ways you qualify. You might need to show ID, two paystubs or TANF benefits statements, utility bills (to prove residency) and agree not to come back for a full month. You might just sign a register or sign in via an app. Usually you get a day or two of food, which is great, but it’s only a day or two. You get no say in what you’re given, at many food banks. The food banks can only grant you what they receive in donations and what they buy in bulk (beans, rice). You might get one box of Kraft dinner, two bags of beans (one white, one pinto), a can of spaghetti sauce, one pound of pasta, a small off brand can of pears, two cans of peas, a 14 oz jar of peanut butter and a semi-stale loaf of bread. You might not get milk or butter, or toilet paper…though some do include those things. You also could luck out and find one of the ones where gardeners are allowed to donate produce, so YMMV here. Those usually are open more days and hours as well, not just (as an example) Tuesdays between 11am and 2pm.

    National Stamp Out Hunger food drives are held the 2nd Saturday of May each year since donations from the holidays are usually long gone. Our letter carriers collect food and deliver it to food banks (like Northwest Harvest in the Seattle area). It’s very successful but there is always more need.

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