Coping with Unemployment

There’s no doubt that losing a job is a demoralizing situation—and when you have a family and loved ones to support, it can feel that much worse, knowing you have people depending on you.  However, countless workers in the past few years have faced unemployment, and it’s important for you to understand that you are not alone in your struggle.

Life does get much harder when you are unemployed and there are bills stacking up, left unpaid.  You might even be facing a situation where you know you could take “a job” but you don’t want to, because it’s not the job that you want and it feels menial compared to what you were doing before.  In this situation know that it might be wise to take that job—at least in the interim—studies show that the longer that you are off work, the less likely it becomes that you will ever return to work.  Realize that you might feel better doing something as you continue a job search as opposed to allowing that gap on your resume to grow bigger and more daunting.

However, coping with unemployment is about more than just making sure that your resume is up-to-date. For many people, being laid off or terminated from a position wreaks havoc on self-esteem and pride—but there are ways to get through this.  Follow this advice:

  • Identify and acknowledge your feelings.  Yes, it’s going to be tough.  Yes, it’s sad and upsetting.  Yes, you might be overqualified for a lot of positions.  But don’t give up.  You will get through this.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Contact your family, friends, and your professional network and ask point blank questions.  “Do you know of any job openings?”  “Can you help me with my job search?”  Use networking skills and create opportunities.
  • Know that you are worthy.  This thought encompasses so many things…worthy of support, worthy of happiness, worthy of success.  Work hard to make success a reality and whatever you do, don’t thrust all of the burden on your spouse or family.  Stay engaged with the process, keep your mind focused to fight depression, and above all else, get up and get going in the morning—don’t sleep until noon.  You do have an objective right now—it’s to get a job.
  • Focus on your health.  Studies show that during unemployment people are more likely to let their health go or engage in unhealthy behaviors.  Keep a healthy diet, don’t engage in excessive drinking or other risky behaviors, and get enough sleep.  When you do get called for an interview, you want to look sharp and alert.
  • Create a day-to-day schedule.  While it may be true that you no longer have a clock to punch, it’s important that you stay on a schedule in order to hold yourself accountable.  The only way you can look for that next opportunity is to actively focus.
  • Realize you need to be flexible.  This might be a trying time in your life, but you have to remain adaptable.  You must develop the mindset that this too will pass.  Keep an open mind and consider every opportunity that you uncover.  Reach out and introduce yourself to people.  Remain friendly, outgoing, and positive.  You never know what tomorrow holds or what great opportunity is just around the corner.

Remember, while coping with unemployment may be difficult, the fact of the matter is this:  The difference between winners and losers is that winners are willing to do what the losers refuse to.  Live in this moment to realize that good things are waiting for you on the horizon.

How to Create a Family Budget

How to Organize Your Family Finances

While it might seem like a bit of a New Year’s Resolution, spring is actually the ideal time to evaluate and analyze your family’s household budget as expenses tend to increase the closer it gets to the end of the school year when vacations and extracurricular events begin to be planned.  Therefore, get out your calculator and let’s get to work!

Family Finances Matter
The majority of households in this country operate by way of a budget.  If the concept is new to you, it’s an important thing to do, especially when managing children, a professional life, and other demands.  Having a budget will help you keep your family’s finances on track.

Of course, it isn’t the easiest of processes, so if you are looking for some pointers, here is what some financial consultants say should be considered when plotting out your family’s budget.

How Your Home Factors into Your Budget

It’s true that your mortgage or rent is probably the largest expense on a monthly basis.  Experts advise that housing costs such as the mortgage or rent payment, homeowners insurance, and taxes should account for no more than 30 percent of your overall budget.  If you can get this number to 25 percent, you are even better off.

Categorizing Expenses

However, there are other costs that relate to housing expenses.  You have to think about utilities, cleaning products, the lawn service, household equipment and the like.  Experts say that if you want to outline your budget in this regard to do it as such and target the following breakdown:

  • Mortgage: 58 percent
  • Utilities: 21 percent
  • Household equipment: 9.2 percent
  • Services such as a housekeeper or lawn service: 6.8 percent
  • Supplies: 3.6 percent

Remember to take into account that utilities are expenses that do vary on a month-to-month basis.  For instance, in the summer your electric bill could be higher if you tend to run the air conditioning more and likewise, in the winter your gas bill may soar because of heating costs.

Understanding Transportation Costs

Transportation costs include your car payment, subway or bus fare, gas, car repairs, and anything else that helps you get around.  If you are in the market for a new car, it’s wise to be prudent and not spend more in a year’s payments than what you make in a month after taxes.  Therefore, if you make $6,000 per month, don’t spend more than $500 monthly on transportation expenses.  Ultimately, the targeted number for transportation in a family’s budget is 8 percent; however, the majority of Americans spend 17 percent of their income on this category.

You Have to Eat!

Food is another expense that can be very costly.  This category accounts for 12.9 percent of the average U.S. household’s budget and experts say that is healthy. General consensus notes that anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of a budget should be allocated on this expense.  Therefore, if you start crunching numbers and realize that you are over 20 percent—it’s time to put your food expense on a diet!

Planning for Unexpected Costs

This is the one area where so many people get tripped up—they don’t plan for emergencies.  Allowing a cushion in your budget for an unexpected car repair or a trip to the vet for your dog is imperative.  Even if it is only 5 percent that you can attribute to this category, it’s better than nothing.  You want to put your family in a place where you are not constantly worrying about a tragedy occurring and you certainly don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck.

It’s also important to understand that certain times of the year, like back-to-school time, are more expensive than others.  You must work to remember these expenses are coming up and that they still count even though it’s not an event that happens monthly.