When Tina Pennington's husband lost his job in 2004, she leaned on her sister, Mandy Williams, who has an MBA, for financial advice. Together, they wrote a book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired, which is now approved as a textbook in Texas. The sisters lecture widely and teach a course on financial literacy at a Houston high school. Here's their take on what to do if your husband loses his job.
#1 Take time to step back and look at your values and priorities. Focusing on the big picture will help clarify day-to-day decisions. Tina thought she had to cancel her daughter's swimming lessons, but Mandy persuaded her that there were better places to cut than disrupting her daughter's routine.
#2 Make sure you understand your financial situation so you can make intelligent, informed decisions. If terms like "assets and liabilities" scares you, think of it as what you own and what you owe.
#3 At times, the task before you will seem overwhelming. Remember that you can eat an elephant, just not all at once. Set yourself up for success, not failure, by having manageable goals. Tina was intimidated by the piles of paper on her desk – bills, notes, articles to read. Mandy told her to tackle the stack in increments of 15 minutes. Do triage on the pile, setting aside things that aren't priorities.
#4 Looking for sympathy is not productive, but looking for a support group is critical. Your support group can be friends, family or strangers.
#5 The stigma of being fired is outdated, as outdated as retiring after 30 years with a gold watch. But if your husband does not want people to know, you have to respect that. He creates the party line. Be consistent about what you tell people, but also understand that the woman on the carpool line doesn't need to know anything. If you have children at home, make sure they understand that changes in the daily routine do not change how much you love them.
#6 Remember the airline safety speech, and put your oxygen mask on first by being sure to take time for yourself. If you're not stable and calm, helping a child who might be scared is going to be extremely difficult.
Want to learn more about changing careers? Check out these amazing stories: