Looking after yourself
Research shows that job or financial loss can increase the risk of health problems such as anxiety or depression. Signs you may not be coping include:
- Sleeping badly.
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs more than before you lost your job.
Talk about issues with your family and friends – don't bottle things up. If you have emotional support, you'll be better able to deal with the financial consequences of unemployment.
If things are really getting on top of you, it's best to get professional help. Ignoring the signs may only make things worse. Talk with your doctor.
Try to get financial counseling for your money problems.
Knowing where you stand financially
You will feel able to make clearer decisions once you know how much money you really have. Find out what you have in savings, then list every expense you'll have to meet for the next two months. Use our Make Your Money Work for Your Budget and include necessities like mortgage payments, loans, health care, medicines, car and home maintenance, and insurance premiums.
To work out how long your cash will last, it's best to assume you'll have no income for the first few weeks.
Limit your spending
If your income drops, bite the bullet and change your spending habits as soon as possible. Cutting back may be hard but, remember, it is probably temporary.
Bringing your spending into line will mean changing your habits and plans. You may have to postpone holidays; cut down on things like soft drinks, alcohol, salon visits, cable TV or mobile phone calls; spend more time shopping around for the best prices; and hold back on buying clothes and eating out.
Resist the temptation to use your credit card to cover shortfalls. The interest you'll have to pay will only add to your financial burden in the long run.
If you don't have much cash on hand and didn't get severance pay, you may need emergency help. It can be hard to ask for help if you're used to being independent. But emergency help will ensure you can feed your family or pay essential bills like electricity and water.
Under the Public Assistance Scheme, the Social Development Department provides assistance to meet a variety of needs, including food, medical, burial, school, childcare, fire and home repair. Assistance is given out in the form of a check, but in the case of food vouchers, you will have to be accompanied by a social worker while shopping for food. No assistance is provided for housing or rent. Church or other community groups may also provide some help.
Getting back on your feet
Think about getting temporary or part-time work while you look for another permanent job. Put your name down with the Labour Department, check the online news sites and newspapers, ask family and friends if they know of any jobs, or ask local businesses if they need an extra set of hands.
Talk to your lenders
Do you have a serious budget shortfall? Talk to your bank and any other creditors. Contact them as soon as you can, especially if the lender has security over your home, car or other assets. Tell them you're having financial difficulties and want to discuss repayment arrangements.
If you can't agree on a new repayment arrangement with your credit provider, or want more information about speaking to household utility providers (for phone, water and electricity), see section on managing debt.
Losing your job can be a very stressful experience. Prepare a budget, find ways to cut back on your spending and always ask for help – both financial and emotional – if you need it.