Photo by: Dan Gold
I had been at my job for almost six years. I started as an intern and climbed my way through management, leadership roles, and even had the opportunity to live in Latin America for four months while writing about travel. I thought my position was solid, and I intended to stay at my company for at least another couple years. I was in Puerto Rico on vacation when I got a call from New York — I answered and they said, “Hey Arielle, sorry, we know you’re on vacation, but…” And that was it. More than 250 people had been let go, and I became a prisoner of my own mind. Anxiety levels were high and I immediately panicked about what was next and how long I could live off my credit card. It was not the trip I had hoped for.
Here’s the thing with being laid off: It usually has nothing to do with your work ethic, it’s non-personal, and it can happen unexpectedly. Whether you’ve been at a company for six months or six years, getting cut from the team can be a hard financial blow. Maybe your company provides good severance — maybe they don’t. But worry not! Things have a way of working out, and there are several actions you can take to save some cash and budget your life, whether things are smooth sailing or the equivalent of a torrential storm.
1. Evaluate your spending and make some decisions on where to cut costs
The great thing about the Mint app is having the ability to take a deeper dive into your spending habits and adjust your budget based on your lifestyle. Maybe you refuse to give up that morning cup of coffee, but know that you can go the next two months without buying new clothes. Maybe you love that bi-monthly gel manicure, but know you can paint your nails yourself at home. You don’t have to stop living and enjoying life because of a setback, you just have to make small changes.
2. Take note of your paid subscriptions and axe anything you underuse
I didn’t realize how many monthly services I pay for, but after years of signups and recurring bills, I never bothered to see what I still had going. If you have a gym membership but haven’t gone in three months, what are the odds that you’re ACTUALLY going to start going now? Is that cost worth it? Can you pay for an app that’s cheaper and accessible at home? I’ve been paying for cable for so many years now, and the only thing I watch on TV is The Bachelor, which is accessible with an antenna from Amazon for $30. If you pay for a service that you don’t actively use every month, it’s probably a good time to cancel.
3. Make a grocery list and meal prep some breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
If you are not a cook and eat out often, it’s time to pick up a new skill! You don’t have to be a chef to make something simple. If you’re a foodie like me and enjoy the local eats of your city, you can still enjoy that — just be more selective about it. Cooking can really just be assembly,
which is often quick and very cheap. Living in New York City, I can spend $30 on a salad or $30 on a week’s worth of home-cooked meals. My biggest suggestion is to make a grocery list of exactly what you need and commit to it — no buying chips and cookies on a whim, because those purchases add up. If you budget it into your list, then you’re good.
4. Make some financial goals and prioritize your bills
I know, this is sometimes easier said than done. With the Mint app, you can set some goals and work at setting yourself up for spending success. I’ve been paying a lot in interest on my student loans for the past eight years, when I could contribute more to the monthly bill, pay it off by November, and stop wasting unnecessary cash. I also need a new laptop, but mine can last another few months or so. I’m therefore making the decision to pay off my current credit card bill to avoid interest costs and keep a high credit score — then I can bite the bullet and buy the computer.
5. Add money to your savings account every month, even if it’s not a lot
This is SO important and I highly recommend doing this whether you’re freelancing, unemployed, or have a full-time job. When I was employed, I set up an automatic distribution to my savings account of $100 per paycheck. It didn’t feel like too much money at the time, and since then, I’ve saved about $3,000. Having that money in the bank now that I’m laid off feels like a lifeline that I’m grateful I can use if I need to. Sure, this barely covers rent and cost of living for one month in New York City, but it’s better than nothing! I also have a box at home that I made, and I used to put $1 in there for every mile I ran. Back when I was training for a half-marathon, it was a really good idea and a cool way to save money. Be creative and save!
And that’s what I’ve got for now! Money can make a person feel on top of the world or utterly defeated. It can be really mentally exhausting to think about your finances, especially after a lay-off. But with the Mint app, you are in control of your budgets, your goals, and your spending — you can get through it and prosper! Just take a breath, clear your head, and plan your future. You’ve got this.