Losing your job around the holidays can feel like a nightmare.
But before you despair, remember this is also the season of hope. And hope can’t be taken from you—you must surrender it.
So if you’ve just been laid off or are expecting a pink slip soon, keep your head held high and focus on what’s still in your control.
Here are seven practical tips to get through missing a paycheck at Christmas and prepare for your brand-new start.
1. Cut back your spending.
When your income changes, so must your lifestyle. This is not the time to put Christmas on credit or dip into your 401(k) to cover travel expenses.
The last thing you want to do is to steal from your future to buy more stuff. So if you’re about to borrow from your retirement or run up another credit card, talk to a financial coach who can help. Dave has a whole team of coaches who can encourage and support you through this financial change.
Related: Our coaches specialize in providing solutions without an annoying sales pitch. Learn more.
2. Change your outlook.
A job layoff doesn’t mean an extended Christmas vacation. While it’s okay to take a week “off” with your family, get back into your job search as soon as possible. Stay vigilant and use this time to get ahead of your competition instead of stuck behind them.
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And as you’re searching, remember this: Less than 6% of the population are unemployed. That means 94% are employed. So keep your focus on the number you want to join.
3. Stick to your routine.
Wake up at the same time every weekday (sometime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.) and make a list of everything you will accomplish for that day. Then start networking, updating your résumé, and submitting online applications like it’s your new job.
And when you hit the afternoon slump, reenergize with a daily walk or bike ride to clear your head and keep you moving. It also helps to block off an hour or two to read something inspiring like 48 Days to the Work You Love, No More Mondays or The $100 Startup.
4. Find seasonal work.
The National Retail Federation estimates U.S. retailers will add between 725,000-800,000 new jobs during the holidays. So don’t wait around for the perfect job to start earning again.
Even if you’re packing boxes or stocking shelves, you’re contributing to your household and easing family stress. And since 42% of retailers say they plan to keep some seasonal staff long-term, this side income could turn into a tremendous blessing as you continue your career search.
5. Get creative.
When stress goes up, creativity goes down. It’s only natural. But if you can tap into your creative juices, you may find another way to drum up valuable income for your family.
Take Charles Darrow for example: He was an unemployed salesman in the 1930s who invented Monopoly while working odd jobs to keep his family afloat. How can you use your imagination and knowledge to bring in extra money?
6. Be open with your family.
Struggle can actually strengthen your marriage. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be fun or easy. If your spouse stays home, he or she may need to find some additional work. Or there may be some hobbies or trips you have to cut out for a while.
And when it comes to your kids, you must be in agreement. Sit down and explain to them what Christmas will look like this year. It may be uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s a valuable life lesson. You’re not letting them down—you’re simply teaching them how to deal with change.
7. Put the holidays in perspective.
When it comes to Christmas, families can turn into travel agents for guilt trips. Don’t take that trip. You and your spouse must stand firm if you can’t afford to leave town this year.
Instead, make an effort to spend some quality time with your immediate family and cut back however you can. Maybe that means only buying for the kids or playing a game of Secret Santa with your parents. Just remember, December 25 is one day. Right now, it’s not a budgeting priority.
As Christmas and the new year approach, work hard, stay hopeful, and focus on the goals ahead of you. Refuse to give up and you will succeed.