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Coping with Job Loss and Drop in Income

Betsalel Cohen
UpdatedApr 8, 2019
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    3 min read
Key Takeaways:
  • Job loss and sudden drop in income are common problems that households face.
  • Keeping a budget helps to control spending and know which areas you can cut most effectively.
  • Maintaining an emergency savings fund is vital to tide you over in the event of a loss of income.

Budgeting and Saving: Coping with Job Loss

Did you think about the consequences of losing a job? How would you cope with a temporary (or even longer) drop in income? Do you have a spending plan in place?

While unemployment is low or those who face even a temporary job loss and drop in income, there can a huge cause of financial and psychological stress. According to a recent NY Federal Reserve blog post, based on data from the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE),

"... a non-negligible share of the sample (10 percent) assesses the chance of job loss at more than 50 percent, with some individuals believing with certainty that they will lose their job over the course of the next year."

Measure Your Financial Health - Prepare for Sudden Drop in Income

Measuring your financial health helps you asses your strengths and weaknesses around four key areas: Budgeting, Savings, Borrowing, and Financial Planning. By controlling your spending and building up your emergency savings you can prepare yourself for difficult situations.

Cutting Expenses: Budgeting and Job Loss

If you have a sudden drop in income, do you know where you can start cutting expenses? Keeping a budget allows you to evaluate how you are spending money.

The authors of the NY Federal Reserve blog post, Expecting the Unexpected: Job Losses and Household Spending, asked, "What types of spending do households prioritize and which ones do they cut when the head of the household becomes unemployed? They analyzed spending across four categories, "housing-related expenditures (such as purchasing a house or spending on home improvement), car-related spending, spending on other durables (such as electronics, household appliances, and furniture), and vacation-related spending."

As expected, their findings showed that vacation related spending was the first to be cut, followed by spending on durables. The least affected was car-related spending, possibly because a car is essential to finding a new job.

Your budget allows you to see exactly where you can trim your spending. Are you paying too much for phones or entertainment programs? Can you cut your grocery bill? Are you paying too much interest on your debt? Budgeting may not be exciting, but many apps make it easy to do.

Job Loss and Savings

Since so many people are considering that a job loss and drop in income is a real possibility you would expect that households are saving up money and prepared to deal with an emergency.

The surprising fact is that according to a 2017 report the Federal Reserve estimates that:

“Four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money”.

Creating an emergency fund helps tide you over for a short period. One popular rule of thumb is to have an emergency savings fund to cover at least six months of spending. Check out the emergency fund calculator below to see if you are prepared.

Job Loss and Your Financial Health

Losing a job is just one type of emergency. Like most households, you have probably had medical emergencies, car repairs, home repairs, or need to replace an appliance.

The most significant difference in losing a job, even temporarily, is that each month you need to come up with a source of money. However, the common thread is that by preparing yourself correctly you can avoid getting into debt. Proper spending and good saving habits are vital ways to stay financially healthy.