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Dealing with an unexpected job loss

Managing finances during unemployment is challenging, even with emergency savings. Each time you withdraw money to pay expenses, your cushion gets smaller. COVID-19 unemployment benefits help reduce your dependency on savings, but there are other ways you can soften the financial impact of a job loss.

When dealing with unexpected unemployment, follow these steps:

  • Make (or refine) your budget
  • Save what you can
  • Take advantage of unemployment resources
  • Explore Federal, State, and Community Resources
  • Contact your financial institution

Tips to prepare job loss finances

Make a budget

If you don’t already have a budget, now is the time to get one it order. It’s time to make your money work harder for you. A budget will let you see all your bills that need to be paid and where you can cut back. It’s hard to know where you can save money if you don’t know where you are spending it.

If you received a stimulus check or are on unemployment, add that as income into your budget. This will help you when planning out your monthly bills.

After you make your budget, prioritize your expenses. Focus on the things you need to survive – food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. If you were working towards paying down debt, consider making only the minimum payment during this uncertain time. Finding places to save money is crucial.

Eliminate anything that isn’t a need right now. Once eliminated, you’ll begin to see what a baseline budget would look like. If you don’t have any income right now, start with the amount of money you do have.

It is also important to know where NOT to cut, if you can help it. Avoid cutting money from healthcare, insurance premiums, and minimum payments. If you can avoid this, it will help you in the future.

There are several ways to track your spending. You can create a budget in Numerica Credit Union’s online banking to easily see where your money is being spent. It’s a great way to find help to save money! To find more information about enabling this feature, log into Online Banking and click on the Reports tab. Another option is using Numerica’s Budget Workbook to lay out your income and expenses.

Numerica Budget Workbook 

Save what you can

Once you make a budget, review your finances, and find places to cut back – if you find any extra money - save it! These times are unprecedented and it is crucial to save what you can.

Easily open a Numerica Bonus Saver to be able to separate your saving and spending money. Having a designated account for savings helps to prevent you spending it!

COVID-19 Unemployment Resources

Unemployment benefits

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has expanded unemployment benefits so more people can qualify. Many people who usually can’t get unemployment benefits now can because of the new Federal CARES Act. Depending on which state you live in, the qualification criteria for unemployment may vary. If you have received a severance package, your benefits likely won’t start until after your last paycheck.

However, it’s important to apply for unemployment benefits sooner rather than later. You may have many options when it comes to applying for unemployment benefits, whether it’s online, over the phone, or by mail.

The unemployment offices in your state will require extensive documentation to determine your eligibility. They will look at things like your employment history from the past 12-18 months including gross pay amounts, outside income, and other personal information. Make sure you have everything ready before you apply to speed up the process.

Job retraining

If your job loss is long-term or permanent, your state may help you train for a different line of work. For example, Washington State offers a program called Worker Retraining, which pays tuition for training unemployed or dislocated workers who receive unemployment benefits.

Information about programs in your state are available through the office where you draw benefits, such as the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Look for other sources of income

If you need to take a lower paying job, or even one or more part-time jobs to make ends meet – do it. Many essential services are in need of employees willing to work during these uncertain times. You can also earn money by selling unused items on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. At this point, earning some money is better than earning none at all!


Talk to family, friends, former co-workers, etc. They may know of current job openings or may be willing to act as a reference if you apply for another job. Connect with people on LinkedIn – you may find opportunities that fit your skillset.

Update your resume and begin a job search

Make sure your resume reflects your current skills and your past and current duties. You can look for a job through your network, local temp agencies, job fairs, classified ads, and online job search engines such as Career Builder, Indeed, Monster, etc. Job searching takes time, so be patient and don’t lose hope.

Tap your emergency fund

Everyone needs an emergency fund, and a sudden decrease in income is a good reason why. An emergency fund should be used for emergencies, and not to maintain a standard of living. Food, housing, medical insurance, or new brakes for your car qualify as expenses you should use your emergency fund on.

Federal, State, and Community Resources

We’ve gathered together some great resources at the federal, state, and community level.

Whether you’re in Greater Spokane, Wenatchee Valley, North Idaho, or the Tri-Cities, check out some of the options available for:

  • Shelter/housing
  • Food
  • School lunches
  • Childcare
  • Transportation
  • Utility/power

Preparing for next steps

Have you refined your budget, explored resources, and are still unsure of what to do next? There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. It’s important not to wait until it’s too late.

One of the best things you can do if you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19 is to contact your financial institution or the institution that services your loan(s). Check out Numerica’s response to the Coronavirus and financial support options. You can always give us a call at 800.433.1837.

Numerica has also partnered with Balance Financial. Numerica members can access free one-on-one money management, budget and debt counseling, or request information on various financial issues from a partner organization. You can call Balance Financial at 1.888.456.2227.

Whatever you do, don't stop opening bills! Ignoring them will not make them go away.

Be patient with yourself

Life moves - sometimes up, sometimes down. Don’t let circumstances outside of your control like the COVID-19 pandemic affect your self-confidence or feelings of self-worth. All of us may experience some level of hardship, and it’s important to know you’re not in this alone.

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