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- When I was laid off in 2015, I panicked and failed to manage my money strategically.
- Looking back, I should have set a budget and tapped into additional sources of income.
- I should also have opened a 0% APR credit card and strategized for when I had money again.
The day I was laid off from my full-time job as a copywriter at a tech startup in 2015, I came home and panicked.
I had worked in the labor market for six years, with successive jobs, without ever being unemployed. I had relied on my paycheck to pay my expenses, rent, and recurring bills, barely saving more than a few hundred dollars a month.
I wasn’t sure how long it would take to find a new job, and all I could think about was how this career setback would drive me into debt.
Years later, I look back on that experience as a financial wake-up call. I could learn from all my money problems, such as not having an emergency fund or even additional sources of income. But in that time I made a lot of mistakes. These are the top things I did wrong with my finances when I got laid off.
1. Doesn’t stick to a budget
When I was fired, I received a severance package for four weeks. Instead of spending that money in a panic on my rent and miscellaneous expenses, I wish I had been smarter about how I spent that incoming last paycheck.
First, I would have tried to negotiate my bills by calling my landlord, ISP, and credit card company to see if I could delay payment for a month or two without penalty. I wish I had controlled my spending by reviewing every credit card transaction and immediately ending recurring subscriptions I couldn’t afford, such as streaming services and cable.
I would have been careful created a strict budget for extra spending on groceries and activities, whether it’s trips with friends or networking opportunities that required a paid ticket. To make sure I kept track of that budget, I sat down every night and tracked all my expenses.
I would put extra money into it a high-interest savings account so it could make money and possibly be used for future months when I needed money to pay fixed expenses.
2. Ignored additional income streams
It took a few months before I could earn income again. I didn’t do this by getting a new job, but by starting my own business. What I wish I had done, in the months I had no pay, was start introducing new revenue streams.
I could have immediately posted profiles on freelance websites, such as Upwork or Fiverr, where people could have hired me as a copywriter for projects. I could also have invested in low-cost side businesses that offer the opportunity to generate passive income, such as selling a copywriting course or an e-book.
Years later I have more than five revenue streams making money every month from selling courses to freelancing and earning affiliate income through social media and my newsletter. That way, if I lose customers to my business, money will still come in to support my financial obligations and goals.
3. Stuck with a high-interest credit card
During the first months of being laid off, I had to put most of my purchases on a credit card with an 18% interest rate. Unable to make my monthly payments, I started accumulating debt at a high interest rate.
What I wish I did instead was open a 0% APR credit card. My card offered that rate for 12 months so I could put essential items on my credit card and pay them off interest-free later in the year.
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4. Overlooked the details of my money
Immediately after I got laid off, my first thought was how can I make more money fast. I didn’t sit down and look in my financial portfolio and I didn’t have any strategy with my money. If I had, I would have made a lot of big money mistakes sooner.
For example, I usually spent more money than I earned, which affected how much I had in savings. an emergency savings fundand kept me in a spinning cycle of credit card debt.
If I had looked at my finances from a holistic point of view, I could have determined what changes to make once I started earning income again so that I would never be in that desperate financial state.