Subprime housing crisis. Dramatic shifts in the global economy. Bankruptcies. Bailouts. They all are economic terms to which few of us paid much attention — until now. Today we are experiencing the brunt of a financial blow that has impacted our total economy. As the economic downturn expands, many businesses are going under. Tens of thousands of individuals and families all across our nation are suffering from job loss, or at least the possibility of job loss. Perhaps you are, too.
Joblessness is a stress-maker of huge proportions. The emotional upheaval of losing a job is a major life change that can leave a person feeling totally out of control — and angry.
Obviously, reduced income significantly increases the need to make sound financial choices, and economic downswings like the one we're experiencing amplify that need. Any personal financial crisis today places you in the middle of a global crisis. It's not easy to know just what to do.
Organizations such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) often can help you negotiate the financial maze, especially with your creditors. The Atlanta CCCS office (888-771-4673 or www.cccsatl.org) works with people in any area of the country.
Crown Financial Ministries has a network of trained volunteer budget counselors who may be helpful to you during difficult financial transitions. Call Crown at 800-722-1976 or visit www.crown.org for more information.
Your new "job" may be to find a job. However, often the trauma of job loss requires time for healing and evaluating what has happened. Unfortunately, most people don't have the luxury of time for emotional healing, because bills pile up, mouths must be fed, and mortgages have to be paid.
Most families simply don't have adequate savings for such emergencies. Add to that the numbers of other job seekers resulting from a mounting unemployment rate, and you could be facing a formidable task.
Nevertheless, if you've lost your job, there are several things you should do:
1 List financial assets. Take immediate stock of your finances. Include savings, spendable assets, income, any severance pay, and unemployment compensation. Then, develop a short-term financial plan. To do this you must:
• Know your bottom-line monthly needs, and include all bills.
• Cut expenses in every way possible. Yes, that could mean things like cable, cell phones, and so forth.
• Arrange a plan with creditors that will reduce payments on a temporary basis.
• Project the cash you will have available for a short-term budget and determine a timeline for how long you can be without work.
• Tell your church if you have a need for financial assistance during this transitional period.
There was a day when the church helped its own, but then the government took over that responsibility. Perhaps it's time once again for the church to be the church in this respect.
2 Inventory non-financial assets. During a time like this, you'll need to conduct an honest, completely candid self-analysis.
• Outline your work history and identify types of work and responsibilities you've had.
• Identify your transferable skills so you can present them to a potential employer. This is no time to think you have to start at the top of the heap.
• Develop a one-page résumé (unless you've been employed in the same field ten or more years) and tailor it to fit any particular job openings.
• Think creatively, and if you have the financial resources, consider learning new skills.
• Career guide resources are available at www.crown.org.
3 Know network assets. Use leads from people you know to make direct contact with potential employees. Networking is the name of the game.
• Get involved in a church-sponsored job network group, or begin one yourself.
• Be very cautious using Internet job searches. Economic slumps bring many imaginative scam artists online too.
• Set and meet measurable goals for daily job search assignments.
• Remember, getting a job is your new job for now.
4 Look after your greatest assets. Economic conditions are terrible — and they could become worse. So, check your spiritual pulse and that of your family, and be sure you're trusting God.
• Continue family devotions, Bible study, and prayer. This is no time to become a spiritual dropout.
• Relax, relate to family members and others, and avoid excesses of any kind.
• Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and spend six to eight hours each day job-hunting.
• Covenant with your spouse or a friend so they can hold you accountable for goals in your job search and encourage you in the process.
• Continue to trust God and wait patiently for Him to provide your next job. The psalmist wrote, If I say, "My foot is slipping," Your faithful love will support me, LORD (Psalm 94:18).
Remember, Christian, in all that occurs, God will hold you up.