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Five Smart Financial Moves When Furloughed 

While markets have generally continued to rebound over the past few weeks, unemployment claims continue to rise. If you have been downsized or furloughed in the global pandemic, you're not alone. Sadly, over 40 million Americans are in the same boat. Thankfully, you can take immediate action to improve your financial situation with these 5 steps:

1. Apply for Unemployment Benefits
Don't let the stigma or your pride stop you; unemployment benefits are funded by employers via payroll taxes. Contact your State's Department of Labor to file an application.

Make sure you include the magic word - "coronavirus" - so the claims processors will know this is a layoff related to the current pandemic.

Given the current unemployment numbers, states are swamped with applications. It can take some time for your application to be reviewed - and hopefully approved - so submit the application right away!

2. Make Friends with Your Budget
It is a rare person who enjoys the tedious analytics of budgeting and tracking every penny. Thankfully, budget software can be linked to your financial accounts. This allows you to refresh your screen and see where you stand quickly and easily.

Reviewing the past 30-60 days of transactions can be eye-opening. Most of us have more "leakage" in our spending than we realize. Getting our cash flow under control can help break that paycheck to paycheck cycle and set us up for long-term financial success.

Mint.com offers free budget software and there are other reasonably priced programs, as well. Read online reviews and sign up for free trials. The best budget software is the one you like and will use!

3. Update LinkedIn and Actively Use It
LinkedIn offers a robust social media platform for professionals to network online. It is also heavily trafficked by recruiters looking to fill positions.

Invest quality time creating or updating your profile so it is thorough and complete. Incorporate key words and phrases that recruiters would use to search for someone with your skill set. Also, be sure to check the box that says you are interested in professional opportunities.

Then start connecting! You can link with individuals, businesses, schools, organizations, and more.

4. Meet with a Real Financial Planner
A quality financial planner will review your goals and cash flow to help make adjustments based on your current situation.

They can provide options for your 401k plan and refer you to others who can help with benefits, such as life, disability and health insurance.

An overlooked area of opportunity during this time is taxes. A silver lining of lower income is often tax saving strategies. Roth conversions or exercising stock options should be evaluated at this time.

5. Hire a Coach
This may seem counter-intuitive to spend more money now. But, the right career coach will help make yourself more marketable through resume building, social media training, and networking strategies. Maximizing your job search leads to maximizing future income-which is the savviest financial move of all, so find someone who can be a guide through the process.
 
These 5 tips will help you create a good offensive and defensive financial strategy. This challenging time can also be a time of re-alignment that will pay off in the long term with the proper mindset and practical tools.
 
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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide advice or recommendations for any individual.
Matt Gazaway, CFP®

Matt Gazaway, CFP®

Matt is a Certified Financial Planner® professional and Co-Founder of BridgeQuest Wealth Strategies. His primary focus is strategic investment planning for individuals and families nearing a transition point in their lives.   He thrives on connecting, strategizing, and formulating a customized solution for each client.