Money Health

What to Do When Your Spouse Loses Their Job

When Your Spouse Loses Their Job
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If you depend on your spouse’s job to help cover your day-to-day expenses and save for the future, it can be hard to hear that they’ve lost their job. This is particularly true now, as the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits so many of us count on may come to an end in just a few weeks.

So what to do when your spouse or partner loses their job? There are a number of steps you can take to support them and manage your financial situation in the short term, medium term, and long term:

  • Switch your health insurance and set up unemployment benefits
  • Show support for your spouse, this is a tough time
  • Manage your spending and control your debt load
  • Lend support during the job hunt
  • Work with your spouse to make big changes if needed, like a shift in industry or a change in life goals

Here are more ideas on what you can do if your spouse has lost their job.

Short term

Right after your spouse loses their job, remember to do these things first. In a stressful time, it can be tough to slog through paperwork:

  • Shift health insurance: If you relied on your spouse’s job for health insurance, you’ll need to figure out another way to obtain coverage. In the event you’re lucky enough to still be employed, find out if you and your spouse can get on your employer-sponsored plan. If this isn’t an option, consider COBRA or more affordable solutions like Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
  • Sign up for unemployment benefits: While the extra $600 per week in pandemic unemployment benefits may expire at the end of July, you may still remind your spouse to apply for traditional unemployment benefits. The amount your significant other will receive will depend on your gross income and the state you live in.
  • Be supportive: Job loss can take a serious toll on your spouse’s mental health, especially if they enjoyed their work or were with their company for quite some time. Be vocal about letting them know that you will do whatever it takes to help them get back on their feet.

Mid term

After the reality of unemployment has set in and a few weeks or months have passed, consider doing the following.

  • Manage debt: While debt management with a loss of income is hard, it’s not impossible. If you can no longer make your debt payments, consult your creditors and lenders to find out what options are available to you. They may allow you to make partial payments or defer your payments, especially if you’ve been a responsible borrower. You can also avoid adding to your debt by dipping into your emergency fund or picking up a side gig to pay for basic expenses.
  • Control spending: Now is the time to keep your spending to a minimum. Take a look at your budget and figure out what you can cut. By getting rid of that gym membership you never use, cutting the cord on cable, and cooking at home instead of ordering take out, you and your spouse may find it easier to get through this financial roadblock.
  • Support the job hunt: There are a few ways you can help your spouse while they look for a new job. Be a sounding board for resume updates. Keep your eye out on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster for positions that you think may pique their interest or that might be something new to consider. Most importantly, help keep their spirits high and reassure them that they will land a job. They’d do the same for you, right?

Long term

In a perfect world, your spouse would secure a job quickly. Due to the economy, however, this may not happen. If their unemployment lasts for 12 months or more, consider:

  • Help your spouse change industries: If your spouse hasn’t been able to find work in their field, it may be time for them to consider expanding their horizons and change industries. Find out which industries are in high demand and discuss the options. If they express interest in one of them, there may be training and education programs to enroll in. This can be hard if you have been in the same industry for a long time, which is why your spouse is going to need your support.
  • Re-organize life goals: Let’s say you had plans to remodel or buy a home, or pay off your car. Your spouse’s unemployment may force you to re-organize these life goals. The good news is you still have options for keeping your finances stable:

          1. Apply for additional government benefits: You may be eligible for government benefits that were not available to you in the past. These include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

         2. Move: If your current home is too expensive, don’t be afraid to move to a more affordable apartment, condo, or house. Forgoing the granite countertops and pool may even make you happier by taking financial stress off your back.

        3. Look for new sources of income: Rent out an in-law unit you don’t use, sell stuff you no longer want or need, get a part-time job, and do whatever else you can think of to make money until you or your partner return to full-time employment. This too shall pass.

Consider debt relief

If a spouse’s unemployment has you facing debt or you are more worried about falling behind on debt payments, it might be time to take a bigger step. Freedom Debt Relief is here to help you understand your options for dealing with your debt, including our debt relief program. Our Certified Debt Consultants are trained to help you find a solution that can put you on the path to a better financial future.

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Anna Baluch is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all personal finance topics. She’s particularly interested in mortgages, retirement, insurance, and investing.