5 Ways to Stay on Budget When You Lose Your Job

Freaked out about finances after a job loss? Not to worry, these basic budgeting tips have you covered.

No one wants to think about a job loss, but sometimes these things can happen. If you think you may be out of a job soon or a cutback came out of the blue, then you might want to take some necessary steps to manage your budget.

Here are some tips to help.

1. Separate Essential & Nonessential Expenses

Take a look at your bank statements from the past three months or so and see how much you’ve been spending and what you were spending it on. Write down a list of which expenses you think you need (rent or mortgage) and which you can cut (eating out, cable and landline). This will help you stay afloat for now. It is important not to worry, as this is only a temporary budget cut until you can get back on your feet.

2. Create a New Budget

Once you cut your nonessential expenses from your budget, it is time to create a new one — and to make sure it is at the absolute minimum. This means shelter, groceries, mortgage, debts, etc. Since you are cutting a lot of expenses from your budget, you should have enough funds to hold you over until you have regular money coming in again.

3. Negotiate Your Monthly Expenses

Consider calling your service providers and seeing if you can negotiate your way to a lower monthly payment that is more reasonable for you and your budget. It can’t hurt to ask, and with no regular income coming in, you might not have a choice.

4. Prioritize Your Next Job

Make your next job applying for a new job. Try and apply to jobs several hours a day. Your next job doesn’t have to be a career choice; it can be something to hold you over until you get the one you want. You might want to make it a priority to get cash rolling in again so you won’t have to worry about falling behind on your bills. (Remember, missed loan payments can do big damage to your credit score. You can keep an eye on yours by viewing your free credit report snapshot, which comes with two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

5. Speak to a Professional

Even if you know you will have a job again soon, it might make sense to speak to a professional about what your options are. It can be a scary thing going from a regular income to nothing. You might need help reworking your budget and even paying off your expenses. If you don’t think you will have money to hire someone, then consider getting advice from your local debt attorney or financial planner (some offer free consultations) — they might even be able to help you settle your debts and negotiate your bills while you are on a tight budget.

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This Trick Can Help You Deal With a Tough Job Search

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Being unemployed is a drag. Tales of “funemployment” aside, life after a job loss – especially one that comes without any warning – is often rough both financially and emotionally. In the days after you’re let go, you’re likely busy updating your resume, adding contacts on LinkedIn, and sending out cover letters. But after an initial spurt of activity, you may get frustrated if your job search efforts don’t seem to be yielding results.

After a few weeks of unemployment, your resolution to meet up with your old co-workers for coffee turns into a commitment to keeping up with the Kardashians. Your goal of applying for two or three jobs per day suddenly seems too ambitious — now you’re barely applying to two or three jobs per week. And you can’t remember the last time you put on real pants (no, pajamas don’t count) and left the house.

Welcome to the job search doldrums. The longer you’re out of work, the harder it is to stay positive and keep your motivation up. The unemployed are more likely to report being treated for depression than people with full-time jobs, a 2013 Gallup survey found, with the rate of depression increasing the longer someone has been out of a job. Those who’d been unemployed for half a year or more also reported being less happy and were more likely to be socially isolated than people who had jobs or hadn’t been out of work for months.

It’s not clear whether unemployment triggers depression or other psychological problems, or if “unhappy or less positive job seekers are less likely to be able to get jobs in the first place,” according to Gallup. In either case, job seekers who are struggling to keep their spirits up need a way to turn things around. Now, researchers at Ohio State University have pinpointed specific skills that might help depressed job seekers find work.

Unemployed people who used skills taught as part of cognitive behavioral (CB) therapy for depression were more likely to find a new job, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Depression Can Hamper a Job Search

“Searching for a job is difficult in any circumstance, but it may be even more difficult for people who are depressed,” Daniel Strunk, an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State and a co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But we found that there are specific skills that can help not only manage the symptoms of depression but also make it more likely that a person will receive a job offer.”

Seventy-five unemployed people participated in the study. Each took two surveys, three months apart, completing a variety of questionnaires designed to measure symptoms of depression and other psychological variables, like brooding and a “negative cognitive style.” They were also asked how often they used cognitive behavioral skills, like rethinking negative thoughts or breaking up overwhelming tasks into smaller chunks.

The more a person relied on cognitive behavioral skills, the greater the likelihood of their depressive symptoms improving in the months between the two surveys. The unemployed people who used CB skills were also more likely to have received a job offer in the intervening months than those who didn’t draw on those coping techniques.

“The people who got jobs in our study were more likely to be putting into practice the skills that we try to teach people in cognitive therapy,” Strunk said. The study didn’t ask whether people had learned their coping skills in therapy or not, but Strunk said most of them likely came by those skills without additional help or guidance.

“Some people just naturally catch themselves when they have negative thoughts and refocus on the positive and use other CB skills,” he said. “These are the people who were more likely to find a job.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you how to overcome negative thinking so you can respond more effectively to life’s challenges and stressors. While it’s frequently part of the treatment for conditions like PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression, the techniques practiced during CBT can “help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

In the case of the unemployed, relying on CB skills may make it easier to deal with common job search frustrations like hearing, “Thanks, but no thanks,” from a prospective employer. “Rejection is so much a part of the process of job seeking. Using cognitive behavioral skills are an important way one can deal with that,” Strunk said.

The researchers want to conduct more research into the link between CB skills, depression, and job search behaviors. For now, the study results suggest that job seekers, especially those who are depressed, may benefit from either drawing on their natural coping skills or working with a therapist who can help them learn new strategies to manage the stress of being unemployed and find a new job.

“Using cognitive behavioral skills, people can overcome some of the negative thinking that may be holding them back and making it less likely to succeed in their job search,” Strunk said.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re concerned about how your credit is being impacted while you’re unemployed, you can check your free credit reports once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’d like to monitor your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card provides you with an easy to understand breakdown of the information in your credit report using letter grades, along with two free credit scores that are updated monthly.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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The Biggest Workplace Productivity Killers

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Do you waste time at work? No, of course you don’t. Never! You’re very productive. And do you have a smartphone? Yes, you do, but that’s not relevant to your work quality. Sure, it’s usually within sight while you’re working, but that doesn’t mean it’s distracting you. As we’ve already established, you’re no time-waster. Your phone just sits there on your desk. It doesn’t keep you from doing your job.

Yeah, about that: 83% of workers have smartphones, and 82% keep it within eye contact while working, according to a new survey. About two-thirds of people with smartphones use them several times throughout the workday.

So it should come as no surprise that 55% of employers say that cellphone use is the most common cause of productivity loss.

These figures come from a Career Builder survey of 3,031 full-time workers over the age of 18, and 2,186 hiring and human resource managers (the survey didn’t include self-employed or government workers.) The results have margins of error of plus or minus 1.78 and 2.1 percentage points, respectively. Error margins vary among sub-samples.

Of course, some people use their personal phones for work matters, but 65% of workers say they don’t have their work email on their smartphones. While only 10% of workers with smartphones said it’s decreasing their productivity, 81% said they use their phones for things unrelated to work while they’re on the clock. Those two things are at odds.

The most common activity? Sending personal messages (65% of people using their smartphones for non-work things admitted to that one). Checking the weather was next common (51%), followed by reading the news (44%), playing games (24%) and shopping (24%).

Distracted employees result in about 2 hours of lost productivity per day, 75% of the employers surveyed said. It’s not just phone use: Many employers (41%) blamed the internet, 39% blamed gossip and 37% blamed social media. Conversations with co-workers, smoke breaks or other breaks, email and meetings were also cited as common distractions.

Lost productivity can come back to the workers who are causing it — wasting time could cost your company money (which they need to pay you), and if you’re distracted enough, you might find yourself in jeopardy of losing your job. Unexpected job loss can wreak havoc on your finances (and it’s one of the reasons to have emergency savings to fall back on), and then there’s the need to find a new job, which is stressful and might even involve potential employers checking your credit.

While checking your phone at work might not be the best idea, checking your credit scores is. You can get your two free credit scores, updated every 30 days, from Credit.com.

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