Financial Matters: How to Handle a Lay-Off

Financial Matters: How to Handle a Lay-Off

It’s an unpleasant reality that in our current economy many workers experience being laid off – and that unfortunately includes nurses.

Being laid off can be overwhelming and the first thing you probably worry about is how you will cope financially on less income. There are some strategies that laid off nurses can use to cut expenses and the stress of a lay-off. While you’re looking for your next nursing position, follow these practical budgeting tips from Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, author of The One Week Budget: Learn How to Create Your Money Management System in 7 Days or Less.

If you haven’t been laid off, but feel there is a threat, follow Aliche’s four step plan:

Step 1: Begin preparing now by cutting back. Now is the time to drastically reduce your spending. Put the money you save toward your emergency account.

Step 2: Pay-down credit card debt and store debt. Credit card debt it very expensive, but even more expensive is store debt. Pay off any purchases you have first. You don’t want to lose items due to lack of payment. After that, work on your credit card debt. You might need the limits as an additional back-up.

Step 3: Consider opening a new “emergency credit card,” while your credit score is still (hopefully), decent.

Step 4: Update your resume and let friends and family know you’re looking for a new job.

If you’ve been laid off, cut these non-essential “extra” expenses:

  • Cable (immediately)
  • Cell phone bill: Get your usage assessed. You may qualify for a simpler plan that costs less
  • Dry cleaning: Try Dryel, an at home dry cleaning product
  • Eating out
  • Grooming: Do your own touch-ups between salon visits

If you have been laid off, be sure to:

  • Reach out to your service providers and put them on notice (car insurance, loans, mortgage, utilities, etc.). Ask what kind of help they provide for clients experiencing financial hardship.
  • STOP spending on non-essential items. If it’s not absolute need, don’t buy it.

Finally, Aliche says, “you have to start living at your financial baseline. That the lowest possible budget your life will allow; a no-frills life. Every penny spent has to be done so wisely, because there is no guarantee it will be replaced anytime soon.”

For more savvy budgeting tips, visit The Budgetnista website.

Sticking to a Budget

Sticking to a Budget

So you’ve decided to take your out-of-control financial situation firmly in hand. You’ve identified your spending “hot zones,” set some motivational savings goals, and created a budget to get you where you want to go. Now the trick is: Sticking to it.

Here are some tips that other nurses have found helpful toward reining in overspending:

* Shop only with a list and pay with cash. An immediate and tangible payment method (cash at the counter versus a credit card and bill in the mail 30 days later) makes more of an impression on your money consciousness.

* It doesn’t matter if you have a penchant for Target and Old Navy. Discount shopping still counts as shopping. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that only a trip to Nordstrom or Saks will make a dent in your wallet.

* Wait 24 hours before making a major purchase. Put the item on lay-a-way (that’s what folks used to do before credit cards) or on-hold if you think the item may disappear overnight.

* If you can’t wait 24 hours, at least imagine that you have. Project yourself into future: How do you feel the next day when you make the purchase? Or when the credit card bill comes in a month later?

* Question purchases that may have an emotional basis. For instance, by buying this item is your intention impressing others with luxury brand logos?…compensating for too many long shifts?…working out marital frustrations?…seeking a shopper’s endorphin rush?

Whatever emotions may be driving your spending, figure out other ways to handle them, such as going out with the gang, getting to sleep early, or taking a brisk walk after dinner. That’s also a good way to remind yourself of the immeasurable value of the non-material aspects of life, such as loved ones, pets, and nature.

* Talk to friends, family, a financial planner, or clergy member to help you uncover your feelings about money or to sort out your financial situation. You’d be surprised how many others are also trying to save money, pay off debt, or stop senseless spending.

* Don’t cut out all pleasure spending though. Budget some money for small joys (like a latte), so that you don’t swing back and forth between tightwaddery and shopping ’til you drop. Moderation is more easily sustainable.

* Set up automatic withdrawls from your checking account into an emergency savings fund or 401(k) or IRA. Then you won’t have to make a choice not to spend extra funds. Out of sight, out of mind.

* What if you keep spending money you don’t have by charging up a storm? Cut up your credit cards. Painful but sometimes extreme measures are all that will do.

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at