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Is Your Spouse in Job Limbo?

Financial 911: Help your spouse…

Collect what’s owed. Is there a severance package involved? Encourage your spouse to talk to HR pronto about a possible payout and job training -- plus information about COBRA, 401(k) contributions, and rollovers.

Get a reality check on finances. Create a plan with your spouse about how you’ll pay the bills and keep your heads above water in the months ahead -- maybe that means merging your accounts if they’re currently separate.

Create a post-layoff budget. Even if there’s an ample severance package or emergency fund (experts recommend stashing enough dough to get you through six months), look for ways to cut corners so you’re actually living on just one salary.

Emotional 911: Help your spouse…

Deal with defeat. Anger, depression, and “WTF-just-happened!?” disbelief are all normal feelings, but don’t let your spouse burn bridges. Encourage them to reach out to their employer for a recommendation and stay in touch with former colleagues.

Get an ego injection. Your spouse’s confidence is shakier than tapioca right now. Reminders of past glories and how smart they are will help get that mojo back.

Stay busy. Help make a list of projects to do so there’s a sense of accomplishment each day and CPS (couch-potato syndrome) doesn’t set in. 

Look at the bright side. A layoff is a tough pill to swallow, but spending more time with family and friends and getting a free pass to shift gears to a new field can be liberating.

Layoff Anxiety!

Worried you’re next to get the ax? Follow these tips:

  • Get the facts. Is your job really in jeopardy? Talk to your boss to get clarity.
  • Become indispensable. Bubble up new ideas and put in a few extra hours. 
  • Create an emergency fund. Don’t have one? Start saving now -- even $50 per paycheck will help.
  • Polish your resume. Give it a facelift so you're always prepared. 
  • Network your ass off. It’s time to start networking again. If a layoff happens, you’ll know who to email first.

Nestpert Pam Krueger, cohost of MoneyTrack on PBS and author of The MoneyTrack Method

-- Margaret O'Malley

See More: Budgeting , Couple Issues , Money , Money Q&A