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'Get the Job' pt. 6: Financial strategies

September 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's devastating enough the day you lose your job. But how do you handle all of your finances or pay for your health insurance while out of work? Here's a closer look at the financial side of unemployment as part of our special report, "Get the Job."Jack Ferrell has all of the comforts of home. Big screen TV, large sofa, and office space with computer. Only thing is his home is in a garage -- his mother's garage.

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Additional resources on financial strategies: Jack Ferrell has all of the comforts of home. Big screen TV, large sofa, and office space with computer. Only thing is his home is in a garage, his mother's garage.

"It's depressing. Life is very depressing," said Ferrell. " I sit at home because anywhere I go, I have to spend money. I can't afford to go anywhere."

Ferrell is an IT communications administrator who was laid off from Unisys more than three months ago. He says he has sent out over a thousand resumes and has gotten only a couple of responses.

Now money is tight, very tight. His credit cards? "They're all used up," said Ferrell. "They're starting to call me for collection."

When there is no income it's easy to max out the credit cards, but try not to raid the retirement funds.

"When you raid your retirement funds, you're creating a tax bill for yourself. You're going to pay penalties and interest, probably a quarter of the money you take out, maybe as much as half, is going to go to those taxes, so you really don't want to do it for that reason," said financial expert Liz Pulliam Weston.

And not only is money an issue, but Ferrell's health care is nonexistent.

"I couldn't afford it. It was too much," said Ferrell. " Three hundred dollars a month, they wanted."

Weston's suggestion? "Does your spouse have coverage? Can you be added to that? That's usually the easiest, cleanest and cheapest solution. If your spouse doesn't, look at individual policies. Particularly look at those high-deductible policies, because that will get your monthly cost down," said Weston.

Pulliam reminds those looking for work that finding a job is a job in itself, so make a schedule just like you were at work.

For that reason, it's important to take some time to strategize your finances. The first thing you should do is to realistically assess your situation.

Figure out exactly what income your family has. This shouldn't include an emergency fund or severance pay that you've put away, but may include the following:

  • Unemployment compensation
  • Income of spouse/children
  • Interest from saving accounts
  • Union assistance
  • Dividends from investments
  • Income tax refunds
Another tip from Weston is to make sure people know how to find you, so get out your contact list and give them your new e-mail address, your cell-phone number and you might consider setting up your own Web site.

 

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