I was 25 years old when the Twin Towers came down. I remember going into work on a fairly empty freeway looking at the sky to see if any planes were heading toward downtown Denver.
What was coming for us weren't planes, but unemployment. Little did we know then, but the dot com bust was in full swing and 9/11 give it a final shove. I was unemployed for the 1st time of my life just 2 months later in November of 2001.
I had 3 kids at the time, my youngest under a year old. Needless to say, I was worried as I had no backup plan and no clue what to do.
Of course times are different now, but I fear the worst is coming. I think ALL industries will be affected by this. Much like the virus, unemployment won't care who you are or what you do.
After having some conversations online and noticing that a lot more tweets about getting laid off were popping up, it got me thinking that there may be some people out there that are in the situation I was in 20 years ago.This is what I did. Some of it was luck, and some of it was a little planning and a lot of self truth.
I think this down turn will look a lot like the housing crisis in 2008. Not in the real estate way, but by the fact that everyone is going to be affected. In 2008, large amounts of people got foreclosed on. Now, large amounts of people will be out of a job and will have the same issues paying their bills.
Just to be clear! I'm expecting this to be much worse than 2008. I'd like to believe that things will get better quickly, but no one knows for sure. So its best to settle in for the long term. We all may have to do things that suck for awhile to survive.
Here is what I did back in 2001:
The following are recommendations are better if you do them now, prior to losing your job. However, they still apply if you already lost your job.
The 1st recommendation:
Look at your finances. Cancel anything that is deemed a luxury. Or at a minimum look at your options to turn down how much of you have. For example if you are at 1 Gig internet, look at how much you can save with a slower speed. Look at those extras too! Do you really need Netflix, Hulu and HBO?
Stop any & all auto payments. Not to stop paying on them, but make sure you are the one that is pressing the button to pay those bills. Its a lot easier to ask a creditor if you can pay partial for this month, if they haven't already taken your full payment already. They won't issue a check back to you after an agreement has been made. This is an effort to negotiate. Remember creditors want money. Sometimes they will take "some" money over no money.
Research your states unemployment laws and their website. When I was laid off, I called into the call center and had to keep a written log of the resumes I sent and interviews I had. Now everything is done online. Just make sure you know what the process is. You will find that the unemployment check is helpful. Although not enough to live long term off of.
Look into your credit cards, to see if they have any protection services. I had a Discover card then, and they offered a service that if you became unemployed they would waive payments for 6 months (or something like that).
Look at your living situation. The most important item in your life is food and shelter. Figure out options. If that means moving back in with Mom and Dad (or any family) then make sure you start floating that idea now.
Research where the jobs are. Back in 2001/2002, Colorado had very little job openings. A quick search on Dice told me that California had a lot more jobs in my field. This ties in with Recommendation #5. Don't be afraid of moving if the opportunities exist.
The following recommendations are for after you have lost your job.
The 1st recommendation:
Breath... Worrying can make you sick & distract you when you can't afford to be distracted. You won't be able to think straight when the time is needed. So take a breath and remember that the sun will rise and set today.
Call your creditors. Let them know you have lost your job and start having that conversation with them. Remember to prioritize your creditors too. Housing and food are paramount when you have no job. Your credit card bill... Not so much.
You will take a hit in your credit score, but remember, so is everyone else.
Make sure you have enough for the essentials.
When I lost my job in 2001, I called my bank that held my car loan and they allowed me to skip payments that were added on at the end. Like I said above, my credit card had a service that I turned on (at no cost). I found creditors to operate in good faith as long as you were.
Pay attention to your resume. This could have been a recommendation above, but now you will have a lot of time to look at it. So make sure you do it now!
Do as much free learning as you can! Again... Time is on your side. Make the best of it.
Build your applications/portfolios now. Set yourself apart. Again, you will have a lot of time.
Find a cheap hobby. Do something you've always wanted to learn. For me in 2002, it was cooking. I watched a lot of FoodNetwork and tried a lot of recipes from there. Remember Emril? BAM!
Remember to breath. Take some time for yourself. Go for walks, go to the park with your kids. Workout where you can. Stay healthy. Remember we are all going through this at the same time. You too will get through this.
My unemployment in 2002 lasted for 3 months. It brought me and my family to California. We lived with my parents for a year. It also generated a lot of memories for me (as a dad) being able to watch the kids for that time period. It was tough, but after you get through it, you realize that you survived. These are the periods that build your character.
One more piece of advice. Remember the phrase: "Is that the best you can do?" - Don't be afraid to ask that question. The worst anyone will say is Yes. Most times though, people will want to work with you.