Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like companies often choose the holiday season to announce their most massive layoffs. I suspect it has more to do with removing excess overhead from the books by the end of the year than with the desire to play Scrooge. Nevertheless, a pink slip can deal a devastating blow at a time when everyone should be celebrating... and when people are about to increase their spending.
What if you're one of those workers affected by end-of-the-year downsizing? Ho, ho, ho! Happy holidays.
First of all, don't put off applying for unemployment, a severance package, a pension, food stamps, or any other benefits you might be eligible for. The goal is to mitigate the upcoming losses to your income stream.
You might be tempted to wait until after the first of the year to apply for unemployment; after all, you're supposed to be looking for work to receive a check. Why not relax and bury your troubles in the holiday spirit? But you can send out resumes, register at online job search sites, and still meet the "looking for work" qualification. Chances you'll be offered a job that starts before the end of the year are slim, so you might still be able to enjoy your newfound time off.
If you're serious about finding new employment as soon as possible, take advantage of your network. The holiday season is an excellent time to reconnect. Accept invitations to social events or reach out proactively, and let your contacts know you're available. But keep an upbeat facade. No feeling sorry for your plight and dampening the holiday spirit.
Look for ways you can cut expenses. Perhaps some planned, but not-yet-paid-for holiday festivities could be trimmed. Instead of a full bar at your annual Christmas party, make a special punch and have some inexpensive wine, beer, and soft drinks on hand. Take guests up on their offers to bring something. If you haven't started your shopping, think about paring your gift list. For example, the boss and co-workers...
Don't automatically cancel a scheduled trip, especially if you'll incur hefty penalties for doing so. The vacation might be a welcome escape from the depressing drudgery of looking for work. But reduce the travel budget where possible: pack smartly, refrain from buying a lot of souvenirs, and cut back on high-dollar extras like alcohol, spa treatments, new travel wardrobe, etc.
The end of the year is a good time anyway to examine your lifestyle, to explore how you can shrink your financial footprint without compromising your values. Are you paying for subscriptions to magazines or newspapers you never find time to read? That Amazon prime account you signed up for last year when you had enough purchases to make it worthwhile? What about a gym or golf membership you don't use? Are you getting the best rates for the phone and TV service that fits your needs? Cutting expenses for things you won't miss is a great way to put more money in your pocket for when your income slows to a trickle.
What tips do you have for people who have recently been laid off? I'd love to hear your comments.