Surviving the Chopping Block

Surviving the Chopping Block

Regardless of the positive trend of the U.S. economy, the threat of being a victim of company downsizing keeps many Americans awake at night pacing, wondering; Am I next? Can my family survive the loss of income? How can I keep myself from the chopping block?

Unfortunately, in most cases, there’s not much an employee can do to secure a job title while the company is passing out pink slips. The company’s board is going to cut who they need to cut to balance the checkbook. This loss of control over your fate can be deflating and frustrating, but if you focus on what can be controlled, you’ll have a better chance of recovery and maybe even gain a few hours of much needed sleep. So, what can be controlled when you’re in danger of being downsized?

First, you can control the rate in which you develop relationships. This goes without saying, no matter your working environment—secure, insecure, nonexistent—you must network inside and outside company walls. Do you struggle with small talk? Here’s a tip: Don’t talk about work. The strongest relationships are built on common interests. So, think outside the box. Ask about weekend plans or favorite hobbies. You might discover that the analyst on the 3rd floor has a side business in fly-fishing tackle she’s trying to launch and you are her missing piece or maybe the Web designer’s cousin is looking for a part-time sports writer. Find connections and pursue every trail that could lead to your next big adventure.

Second, you can control your attitude. Whether you’re looking for a job or fear termination, you must stay positive by focusing on your abilities. Have you been utilizing your strengths in your current position or have they lain dormant? If the later, use this opportunity to revive those skills—your passions—and pursue a more fulfilling occupation. List your goals, attach the list to your refrigerator, and develop a plan for grasping each one.

Last, but not least, you can control your financial preparedness. Evaluating your finances is an overwhelming task, but here are four items to tackle first to secure your footing.

  1. The “Spam” budget. Start creating a worst-case-scenario budget. Keeping track of every penny spent and deposited will minimize your financial stress and maximize your sense of control over the situation.
  2. Obtain a credit line. If you’re expecting a pink slip, contact a bank or private lending company to obtain a credit line for emergency medical bills or other pop-up expenses. A word of caution: Only use the credit line if you absolutely need it.
  3. Insurance. Develop a plan to maintain medical coverage for you and your family and seek personally owned term life insurance instead of expensive group life insurance.
  4. Roll it over. Rollover funds from your 401(k) into an IRA account, unless you’re between 55 and 59 ½ years old. A 401(k) withdraw is penalty free if you leave the company between these ages. If you’re older than 59 ½, there are options to withdraw from your IRA. Check with a financial consultant to learn how.

By covering these bases, you may minimize the financial disaster and limit the number of sleepless nights—you need your beauty sleep for Monday’s interview! It’s a lot to consider and a lot easier said than done, but a financial planner can simplify the process and help you navigate through the tunnel. The risks are high and the times are tough, but it’s like what the young blog writer, Thisuri Wanniarachchi, says, “Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you’re going to fight to get them right…”

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