You’ve Lost Your Job — Now What?
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Unexpected loss of income can be jarring. Here’s what to do when you lose your job.

When you lose your job unexpectedly, you may feel at a loss for what to do next. It’s not uncommon to feel anxious, emotional, uncertain, or all of the above as you try to find your footing. But here’s the good news: By taking small steps, you’ll be able to soften the financial hit and make it through this hardship. Get started with these steps.

Speak to HR About Your Benefits

To start, have a conversation with HR about any severance pay, compensation for unused vacation time or sick days, and whether the company has any rules about how you can govern your pension or employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

You have the option of continuing healthcare coverage under your previous employer-sponsored health insurance plan under COBRA. A least costly alternative is to find a plan through the Affordable Care Act at healthcare.gov. After you’ve lost your job, you may qualify for premium tax credits and savings on deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket payments based on your household size and income. Further, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost coverage to Americans with limited income or disabilities. Learn more about other benefits you may be eligible for while unemployed.

Maintaining health insurance after losing your employer-sponsored coverage may be costly but dealing with a medical emergency without insurance could cost even more. If you’re married or in a domestic partnership, ask your partner to speak with their HR department and find out the costs associated with adding you to their health insurance plan.

File for Unemployment

Unemployment insurance can help you make ends meet while you search for a new job. In order to qualify, you’ll need to visit your state’s Department of Labor website and file for unemployment benefits. The amount of benefits you may receive can vary by state and your prior income. There may be a review period before you start receiving benefits, so be sure to start the process as soon as possible.

Check if You’re Eligible for Additional Benefits

The federal government provides a number of benefits to those who are struggling financially. Benefits.gov offers a benefit finder tool that can help you find out what you may be eligible for. For example, you may be eligible to receive food stamps, child care or child support, housing loans, or other benefits like insurance.

Contact Your Creditors

Even with unemployment benefits, money may be especially tight during this period. If you’re concerned about your ability to pay bills, get ahead of this by contacting your creditors directly to let them know that you’re experiencing a financial hardship. Many creditors offer short-term programs to significantly reduce your payments. Likewise, if you anticipate struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your service providers as soon as possible. Some companies may have leniency policies in place.

If you’ve spoken with your creditors and service providers and you still worry that you won’t be able to make a payment, there are other steps you may need to take. Learn more about what to do if you can’t pay a bill.

Adjust Your Monthly Finances

With limited income, it’s crucial that you take an honest look at the impact to your finances. Use a spending tracker to create a detailed list of your ongoing expenses. When looking for places to reduce your spending, you may find it helpful to prioritize your expenses so you can identify appropriate items to consider cutting. Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll have on a monthly basis, take time to adjust your budget.

Focus on What You Can Control

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when dealing with a tighter budget, less income, and the uncertainty of when you’ll find your next job. Try your best to maintain a positive attitude and focus your time and energy on the things you can control. Get serious about sticking to your budget and remember that, in time, you’ll emerge on the other side of this hardship with a new opportunity and a secure handle on your finances.

Financial challenges can sometimes feel insurmountable, but with the right strategy in place, you can overcome them. For tips, tools and educational resources designed to help you regain control of your finances, visit Regions Next Step.

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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.