The first thing to do once you have been laid off.. is to grab all your bills and statements and sit down and figure out where you are at.
If you have already been living by a budget, then you will likely know where you stand, but you will still have to do some trimming.
If you have a mortgage and credit card debt, then you need to make an emergency plan of action, as to who gets paid when and how much. The mortgage should never be cut, you should always pay that first as long as you can, then car payments, then credit card debt, in that order. The reason, is that if you default on your mortgage, it can be too hard to catch up, and you risk losing your house, and the car payment next if you have enough since you will risk having the car repossessed. Consider selling the car if you think it will be a long time before getting a paying job, or seek out “lease busters” if you are stuck in a lease, it may be worth the fee to save your credit rating and to get rid of the payment.
Credit cards should be last, as they are unsecured credit, meaning, they will get angry with you, but they can’t take your house away from you.
You should always stay in touch with your creditors, as silence is their biggest fear, and triggers harassing phone calls. Make a deal with your credit card company, tell them how much you can afford to pay for now until you are working again. Even if its only 10 dollars, its a payment in good faith, until you are back on your feet.
Start using up those leftovers in the freezer, get creative with cooking, and yes, you have to eat at home, all entertainment budgets are the first to get cut. Don’t forget about the library, as they quite often lend out DVD’s, movies, as well as books, and have the internet for free.
If you are entitled to unemployment benefits, they should kick in within the month, then consider taking advantage of career upgrades and job training, as you may be able to get an extension on your benefits if you are upgrading your training. Find out as much information as possible, about all retraining programs, and upgrades, these are not always that well advertised. Visit your local unemployment office daily, and keep on top of new job offers and openings. They will quite often help you clean up your resume and apply for other jobs if you show enough interest.
Above all, try and stay positive, this is not your fault, do not hide from it, and make sure your family and friends know, as word of mouth can be great for job searching, and it could be that opportunity for a lifestyle change that you have been thinking of. Try to focus on the road ahead and not dwell on yesterday, as it saps all your energy. This can happen to any one of us!
It will be one of the scariest times in your life, but you can grow from this, and one day you may be glad your path came to a crossroads.