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Job Layoff Survival Tips

Your position at work might not be as secure as you think it is. Because of that, we’re going to help you prep for a job layoff. Now, my hope and prayer is that you never have to experience this. But we’d rather have you be prepared for it and it never happens than have it happen and you not be prepared at all. The job layoff survival tips listed here came from two places:

  • Our own experience with losing a job
  • A post a blogging pal (who no longer blogs 🙁 ) wrote here

So get your pen and paper out and make yourself a plan that will help ensure that if you do experience a job layoff you’ll be prepped and ready to handle it.


Our Job Layoff Survival Story and How We Screwed it Up Big Time

So, back in the day (2010) when the kids were teeny and my only job was making it through the day in one piece (four kids under 10) Rick was our sole income provider. The company he worked for was slowly heading toward business bankruptcy. The CEO at the time was spending lavishly on himself and upper management all while sales numbers were going down the tubes and the regular joes and janes were doing all of the work.

We figured that the layoffs would eventually come, but we did nothing to prepare. Zero. Nada.

We watched as others in the company were laid off one by one, and then the phone call came. “Got my pink slip,” said the voice on the other side of the phone.

We were lucky: Rick got several weeks of severance pay and some vacation pay on top of that. Then unemployment kicked in. Rick got laid off in February and worked like a dog to find another job, but he didn’t start working until 7 months later. And the job he got, although it was a great opportunity, paid 25% less of what he was making at his old job.

In our “brilliance” (this was before our personal finance awakening, obviously) we decided that we would survive off of credit cards while he worked his way up to his former salary. No talk of cutting expenses or budgeting; we were certain our money would just find a way to work itself out.

Soon we were looking at double digit credit card debt and a 65% debt-to-income ratio. Now we’re working ourselves out of that mess, and it’s been no easy journey.

So this post comes out of a deep place in my heart; a place that wants to help others avoid our mess and be prepared ahead of time. Learn from our mistakes, friends, and avoid making your own. Life is much easier that way.

Here are my four suggested steps for prepping to survive a job layoff.

Develop Multiple Streams of Income

The first thing you want to do to survive an impending job layoff is to start developing multiple streams of income. Having several streams of income will help ensure you’ve at least got some money coming in if your primary income source goes away. Here are some second income ideas.

Get a Second Job

This can be a job at a place you might like working at or an online job such as a virtual assistant, freelance writer, graphic designer or a host of other second job ideas – anything from delivering pizzas to cleaning business offices to driving for Uber. Pick something that you’d at least semi-enjoy doing. And don’t worry about putting in too many hours at this point, just get your foot in the door because you can always step up the number of hours you work later on.

Start a Blog

If you love to write and to help others, consider starting a blog. Start now, because it can take a few months before your blog gets on the radar of others and starts producing an income. This post will show you how to start your own blog in four super easy steps and get on the road to making some cash. We’re currently making well over $1,000 a month from blogging through advertising and various other resources.

Invest in Dividend Paying Index Funds

If you’ve got a few grand in extra cash laying around, consider investing it in dividend paying index funds. Vanguard is a popular choice for investors. Know though that you’ll need a pretty good chunk of change invested to make a livable amount of money off of dividend income, but that every little bit adds up. Make monthly contributions to your dividend index fund to keep it growing.

Start a Business

Take a skill that you have and turn it into a business. Some ideas:

  • Computer repair or set up
  • Pet/Kid sitting
  • House cleaning
  • Handyman services
  • Yard cleanup/maintenance
  • Selling crafts on Etsy or designs on Redbubble
  • Tutor students

Make a list of your skills and figure out how you can use them to provide for a need and make cash in the process.

Again, how much you make at each individual stream of income might now be much, but all of it together will add up to extra money you’ll have coming in that will help you to reach financial goals now and survive later if you’re laid off from your job.

Recommended Reading in This Area

The Side Hustle Path: 10 Proven Ways to Make Money Outside of Your Day Job (Volume 1)

PASSIVE INCOME: Develop A Passive Income Empire – Complete Beginners Guide To Building Riches Through Multiple Streams (Multiple Streams, Passive Income Riches, E-commerce Empire)

Hustle Away Debt: Eliminate Your Debt by Making More Money

Create a Six-Month Stockpile

In this post, Lance shared how three of the families in his neighborhood experienced job layoffs in one two-month period. Because they all had a six-month supply of food, beverages, toiletries and pet supplies, their stress levels were MUCH lower than what I’m sure a lot of their laid-off co-workers experienced.

You see, when you realize that you don’t have to spend money on food and toiletries for six whole months, the job layoff scenario just got a whole lot easier to stomach. It means that your monthly output of cash just got much smaller, and it means that for sure you won’t starve.

For details on how to create a smart six-month stockpile for your family, read these posts:

How to Build a 30-day Emergency Stockpile Fast and Cheap

Ten Tips for Smart Long-Term Food Storage

Prepping 101: Be Prepared Not Merely to Survive, but to THRIVE

With the question of “How will I feed/care for your family” out of the way, a job layoff will be much easier to stomach.

Build a Decent Emergency Fund

Do you have an emergency fund? If not, what’s stopping you. An emergency fund that contains six to twelve months’ worth of expenses for your family will give you an abundant peace of mind at all times. And it will be a huge blessing if you’re ever laid off from your job.

Having trouble saving money for an emergency fund? Check out these 27 Ways to Save Money Right Now. Follow the tips and you’ll suddenly have oodles of extra cash each month that can go toward building up your emergency fund.

Make a Bare Bones Budget

You are budgeting each month, right? If not, start TODAY. Then take that budget and see how you can whittle it down to what we like to call a “bare bones budget”. In other words, how small could you make your budget if you cut every single thing out that wasn’t a necessity.

If you have your bare bones budget worksheet created ahead of time, you’ll know exactly which expenses you need to cut should a job layoff come your way. Make your bare bones budget now, while you’re thinking clearly, and outline the steps needed to take (complete with phone numbers) to trim your budget to the bone, such as calling to cancel cable, calling to cut your phone plan to the lowest option (or switching to Republic Wireless) or calling to cancel magazine subscriptions or your gym membership.

If you’re prepared ahead of time to do these things it’ll go much smoother when it’s time to get them done.

If You’re Already Laid Off

I realize some of you who might be reading this are already in the midst of a job layoff. If so, don’t do what we did and live in blissful ignorance. Instead, follow these tips.

Start Living On a Bare Bones Budget Now

Yup, cut everything that doesn’t absolutely need to stay in your budget.

Work to Find Side Hustle Jobs

Check Craigslist or online job sites such as Upwork for gigs or permanent positions.

Seek Out Charitable Organizations

If you’re really struggling, there are many, many charitable organizations that provide food for the needy. Check at local churches and local food shelves to help you find resources.

Start Selling Stuff

If you’ve got stuff lying around that you no longer use or don’t want, sell it via a Facebook group or Craigslist. Search your house and start getting rid of stuff to bring in extra money until you’re working again.

Don’t Give Up

Job layoffs suck big time. But they’re not the end of the world. Focus on what you do have (family, health, a place to live, etc.) and don’t let fear get you down.

Being prepared means you have a plan for any of the many troubles that life can throw your way. A job layoff is one of those troubles. No matter how secure you think your job is, it’s important to have a plan put in place for how you’ll survive if the employment rug is ripped out from under you.

Have you ever experienced a job layoff? What tips best helped you to weather it?





  1. Oh nooo I’m sorry to hear you had such a hard time! My husband’s company has been going through tough times this last year, so we’ve prepped just in case. We have enough savings to last us three months if we both lost our jobs and in that scenario we would pay cash for everything. You never know what will happen, and that’s when it’s important to have as little debt as possible.

    • Laurie says:

      Well, we did make our own bed by our unwillingness to get our financial crap together. 🙂 SO happy to hear that you guys are taking measures and have prepared yourselves for a potential layoff. You’ll be glad you did!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips for surviving job loss, Laurie. Thankfully, we’ve not been through that experience, but there was a time when we feared it and we were not in a good financial position. It would have been a struggle. We still rely on one income, though are working to diversify incomes streams as we speak. As you probably guessed, I’m a pretty good at stock piling, so we have a good supply of most things, particularly food. 🙂

  3. In my case having a web design side business saved me. I was in HUGE debt and lost any chance to get hired in the media business (all radio stations closed down and the few remaining paid so little, I couldn’t even make my monthly payments). It’s been 7 years since that day and I’ve been doing amazingly well as a freelancer.

  4. Mr. SSC says:

    Those are all some great tips and ideas you laid out to weather the layoff storm.

    Going thru the downturn in the O&G industry we’ve seen a myriad of situations play out. People getting laid off, not changing anything and then freaking out 4 months later when they’re still unemployed AND out of savings. People getting laid off and switching industries to take care of their families, and like Mrs. SSC people switching industries before they could get laid off.

    When we realized we could both be out of work, our first step was to take our “budget” and ID everything that could get slashed. Daycare, maids, cable, gym, etc… Then we had a number to shoot for as a minimum income and for emergency funds to cover. We also assumed we’d get a fair severance as was the norm at both of our companies, so that would be an extra buffer built in.

    Then we looked at where we could get work outside of Houston, and not in this industry, because it is STILL flooded with out of work people looking for jobs, and companies are still laying off folks. While the jobs paid extremely less, why not take a gap year or two to live in some smaller town and work for the BLM or teach at a school (not university level if it was me) because we knew what our minimum number was, and most of those jobs met that. Plus, not thinking any work would be “beneath” us opened up a lot of opportunities.

    A lot of it is mindset and looking at it from an “opportunity” standpoint was a lot less stressful than a “we’re going to have to file bankruptcy” standpoint. Although, we already were well down the path of good savings, and investments so, not exactly the same as if this had happened a year after we started into the industry.

    • Laurie says:

      “A lot of it is mindset and looking at it from an ‘opportunity’ standpoint…” – my favorite line in your whole comment. Attitude is key, but the positive attitude is easier to have when you an emergency fund and a minimal amount of debt. I think a lot about you all in the O&G industry. Wondering what the future will bring. Good thing you guys have put yourselves in a position where you are working so fervently toward FI. And I’m thinking it was a great move for the Mrs. to leave the industry.

  5. When I got laid off, I was very fortunate that I had a very generous severance package, a decent savings and unemployment. I knew there was a strong likelihood that I would get laid off so I did curb my expenses in anticipation, but not as much as I should have. And the same goes with afterwards. I did make some cuts but looking back, I could have done much more. These are all great tips. Getting laid off is hard, painful and scary but it is also survivable too.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, it is survivable!!! We are working now to put ourselves in a position where a layoff will be a blip on the radar instead of a descent into loads of debt.

  6. These are some excellent ideas. As you point out, prepping for a layoff is better than dealing with one unexpectedly. I’ve never heard of stocking up supplies before, but for budgeting reasons that makes a lot of sense. I also agree that developing multiple, usually passive income streams can do a lot to alleviate the burden of being in between jobs. Thanks for this great post.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, I never thought about stockpiling as layoff prepping either, until I my blogging pal wrote the post linked in the article about his three neighbors. It was really eye-opening to me.

  7. Very timely post. My company is offering voluntary separation packages right now. After the dust settles and everyone leaves, we anticipate layoffs of those who cost too much money to keep. I’m not that worried since I’m still pretty cheap, but I’m certainly affected from having to pick up the work from those who left.

  8. Amy says:

    My husband was laid off from his job about six months after we bought our house, and two months after our daughter was born. We had used most of our savings on the house and associated costs, and the payments were already tight. (We were a classic case of first-time home-owners who underestimated, or didn’t even consider, many of the costs of home ownership. I guess we thought the propane tank filled itself…) It was TERRIFYING!! After the ten most stressful days of our marriage, he secured a new job, but it came with a pay-cut. It took a couple of years for his salary to rebound, which did a number on our finances.

    Now I realize that having an emergency fund is critical. Even a couple of months of breathing room helps a lot.

    • Laurie says:

      So true about even having a couple of months of breathing room, Amy – it all adds up! And I hear you about the propane tank – that thing can really suck some money out of the budget!

  9. Great tips Laurie! I’m sure sharing your family’s experience will help others avoid some of those missteps. And Wow! how did you handle 4 kids under 10! And thanks for including the books on side hustling…I really need to work on multiple income streams…and especially love passive income.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the goal. Yes, those years when they were little are pretty much a blur. 🙂 You’d be great at multiple income streams, Andrew. Go for it!

  10. This is such an important topic! While I think no matter how much you prepare you can never really be “ready” to be laid off, you can make things a little less stressful if you prepare. I really appreciate you mentioning my book as I think having a side hustle has so many advantages and obviously would be a huge help if you ever were laid off.

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