Marriage problems often occur when there are financial difficulties. Thousands of families have faced job lose over the past few years. Many couples question: How to survive financially after a job loss?
Most of what we discuss in this article assumes you do not have an emergency fund to support you during this period of job loss.
This article is part of our series, ‘Can A Marriage Survive’ where we address some of the biggest challenges couples face and offer practical solutions to help you work through those problems.
There are several principles we will unpack in this article that will help you get back on your feet, both emotionally and financially.
How to communicate effectively during these difficulties is vital. Having a plan to move forward is crucial.
The first step is to make sure you’re communicating with each other about what happened. It may be helpful for one person to write down their thoughts or feelings so they can share them later if needed. This helps avoid misunderstandings and allows time to process emotions before talking again.
Here are three big ideas to keep in mind, plus seven practical things to consider as you work to get back on your feet.
1. Don’t Lose Heart and Encourage Each Other
Unfortunately, it’s easy for couples to blame one another when something bad happens. Most often, this is misguided. While there are situations when one partner does something that hurts the family financially, most of the time financial setbacks happen becasue life throws a curveball.
In other words, most of the time no one is to blame. So finding fault only creates distance in the relationship and doesn’t solve any problem.
So now, you have three problems to address (money issues, relationship distance, and no solution in sight), instead of just one (the money issue).
Emotions often blind us to reality. They keep us from seeing things right in front of us. Do not allow your fear to convince you that all is lost. It is not.
There are solutions to every problem. Which leads me to the next point…
2. Consider All Your Options
We often have more options than we think. It’s important to think through all your options before making rash decisions.
Have A Brainstorming Session
I recommend setting aside time to brainstorm your options.
The key that makes this work is to make sure you are not reacting emotionally. If tensions are high, it might be best to postpone a brainstorming session about your options.
Tension, frustration, and panci will only block you from seeing potential solutions.
Approach this with a positive perspective that there are answers to your problems. This will keep your heart and mind open to new ideas.
For example, I’ve met couples who moved back in with parents for a transition period. It wasn’t necessarily ideal, but the decision ended up helping the couple and their parents. Below, I offer seven practical things to consider when making decisions about your future.
Another couple rented out a room to a college student. It didn’t make them rich, but they were able to use that money to cover some key household expenses.
My point is there are options. We just have to be open and not quickly dismiss them.
As you brainstorm together, write down all your quesitons, thoughts, and ideas. Do a brain dump. Get it all on paper so you can review it. Don’t judge what you write down. You can discuss and eliminate things later that you don’t think will work.
At this stage, the concept is to list everything that comes to your mind. The brain has a way of filter through ideas and landing on a genius thought. But this often doesn’t come first. It’s after it has filter through lesser ideas that it presents a brillant one.
2. Know What Is Available
Are there programs, funds, and rights you have that you are overlooking? If you did the brainstorming session mentioned above, you should be aware of these options. If not, consider these:
- Are there expenses you have that you can either eliminate or postpone until a future date?
- Can you borrow money from your life insurance policy (without a penalty)?
- Can you forgo insurance premiums until a future date? (some companies allow this, just make sure you don’t pay more in the future).
- Can you get unemployment benefits?
- Can you postpone credit card payments (without penalty)?
- Are there financial hardship programs available in your area?
- Are there job boards available?
- Is there something you can do NOW to continue to generate income for your family even if it is not your ideal situation?
3. Get A Workable Plan And Work With What You Have
Here are seven practical things you can do to make sure you don’t run out of money and get moving in the right direction.
1. Create a few Rules to Live By While in Job Limbo
This is a crucial step. Yet most couples who find themselves in financial crisis continue to live the way they previously lived. This is a huge mistake.
Without consistent income you must adjust your spending, management, and financial habits with money. Setting up a few ‘house rules’ will help you get on the same page, and take pressure off either one of you trying to make it work alone.
Your rules should be based on your financial goals. This keeps you accountable, but more importantly, it keeps you focused so you don’t wander off the path.
2. Create a Monthly Budget
May sound redundant, but a budget lets you control your money instead of your money controlling you.
A budget lets you know exactly what you need each month. I suggest creating a budget with these categories:
Essential (truly essential) Items.
This would include mortgage, electric, gas, water, etc. The things you have to have to stay in your house.
Living expenses are things you need to live: groceries, car payments (although see #7 below), fuel (to find a job), etc.
These are also essential, but I keep them separate because some of these expenses can be modified. How much you spend on them can be changed by changing your lifestyle (see #3 and #4).
This would include everything from vacations, movie night, eating out, or purchasing new clothes.
The rule of thumb here is to only buy the things that are absolutely essential for life. Everything else can wait.
If you’ve never used or created a budget, here is a worksheet you can use to get started.
3. Stop eating out (and drinking Starbucks)
We all have areas of excess spending. Identify those areas and ruthlessly cut them out.
We knew a young hair-dresser years ago who admitted to spending around $500-$600 a month at Starbucks. Her marriage stuggled because they always seemed to have money problems.
She made a decent living, but couldn’t see that this expense was entirely frivolous.
When you are in a financial crunch, you need to have the guts to cut out anything that is unnecessary.
My wife is very frugal. We ‘eat in’ most of the time. She often reminds me of how much money we save simply by eating at home. Which leads me to the next point…
4. Create a Shopping List
It’s no secret that we buy things on impulse even when we don’t need the item. Statistics show that anywhere from35 to 49% of purchases are impulse buys depending on your age bracket.
Having a shopping list eliminates those unnecessary purchases and keeps you focused on buying only the things you really need. Based on the statistics it is possible to cut your grocery bill in half (almost) just by having a buying plan, aka, shopping list.
5. Get a Side Hustle
There are plenty of ways to make a little side money. Consider a temporary source of income to get you through this tough time.
When things got tight for our family I applied to drive for Uber and DoorDash in my area. I was able to keep some cash coming in so we didn’t sink. It allowed me to control my schedule (I could work when I wanted, and search for other opportunities when needed).
6. Monitor your Credit Card debt closely.
Living on a tight budget is mandatory until you replace your lost income. This means refusing to ‘live on credit.’
While credit cards may be necessary, you must monitor them closely. The last thing you want to do is have a pile of debt that grows with interest when you do get back on your feet.
Monitoring mostly means saying ‘No’ to credit card spending.
7. Sell Off Stuff You Can Do Without
If you are serious about managing money and you aren’t sure when things will get back to normal, maybe it’s time to start selling things you can live without.
Let’s be honest, most of us have things that we rarely use. Go through your items and have a garage sale. Better yet, use Craigslist or Facebook Market Place to sell these items.
I’ve seen couples struggle to make ends meet after a job loss when they had a $15,000 boat sitting in the driveway. You can relieve a lot of money pressure by selling that boat to pay your bills.
Am I saying get rid of all your toys? Not necessarily. But maybe. It all depends on desperate you are.
Here’s some wise counsel:
Before you spend money on your credit card, get rid of anything and everything you can to keep from going in debt. You can always repurchase items in the future when you are back in the money.
I realize this is a drastic step. Yet, remember Warren Buffet’s financial advice: Rule #1 is never lose money. Rule #2 is never forget rule #1. This means stop spending money on credit if you have money sitting in your driveway.
Refer back to #6 to remind yourself that credit card spending only digs you deeper into the hole.
The best way to manage finances during an economic downturn is to prepare ahead of time. Be proactive instead of reactive. It’s always best to have an emergency fund to offset down times.
If that is not the case, you should understand the three key concepts in this article. We also presented seven practical things you can do to navigate financial setbacks.
With these things in mind you will know how to survive financially after job loss.
- 1. Don’t Lose Heart and Encourage Each Other
- 2. Consider All Your Options
- 3. Get A Workable Plan And Work With What You Have
Here is a list of financial resources and tools you can use to get back on track, and stay on track with your money.
Credit Repair Magic will fix your credit fast using simple, practical methods that have worked for thousands. Plus get extra bonuses when you sign up.
Credit Repair Letters are written by attorneys to help you know what and how to communicate with Credit Card companies.
The Debt Relief Manual offers practical advice on everything you need to know on HOW to eliminate credit card debt without getting trapped.
Dissolve Debt will help you reduce and eliminate tax or government debt.
Changing Your Money Mindset
For those who want to change their money mindset and learn how to manage and use money effectively, we recommend Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Summit. It is costly, but once you are able to invest in your future self, this program is worth the money.
You can also take our Marriage Quiz to get your marriage score and find practical ways to increase communication, intimacy and trust in your relationship.