Getting laid off hurts. Sometimes it’s expected but other times it can come out of nowhere. You might feel betrayed or angry, and it’s likely that if anything else, you feel scared about what lies ahead.

It can be even scarier when you’re not financially sound. You might be asking how to get out of debt now that you’ve lost your job and don’t have any income. What do you do?

Start with Good Habits

First off, when something drastic like losing a job happens you’ll want to start managing finances right away. It’s important that you learn the art of saving money during this period of crisis and duress. Consider creating a monthly budget so that you don’t run out of money while being unemployed.

Check on Employment Insurance and Severance Wages

Usually, employees are eligible for Employment Insurance and a severance package. During the lay-off meeting, your HR manager will inform you of what the severance will be and when it will start.

Do not sign anything until you’ve had a chance to look through it closely — take it home with you so you can read it with a clear mind, and if possible, seek legal advice in case you can attain a bigger sum.

Call your provincial or state employment office right away to file for Employment Insurance. If you were laid off due to no fault of your own, you’re entitled to this. Sometimes the process takes weeks to begin, so jumping on that immediately will be beneficial in the long run.

Collect Your Last Paycheque

Before you leave the office, be sure to know when and how you’ll receive your final paycheque. Depending on the company, final cheques are issued immediately on-site or they’re mailed to you within a specific time span.

Investigate what overtime, sick days, or accrued vacation time you might be eligible for. Do some research to find out if this is accounted for and how to get it.

Ask for References

Once you sort out any finances your previous employer owes you and your Employment Insurance has been addressed, you’re going to start looking for new employment opportunities. You’ll need all of the resources available because you won’t want to be out of work for long.

Prepare a professional-sounding email to send to individuals you either worked with or under. Reach out and ask for references and don’t forget to also ask for LinkedIn Recommendations!

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Getting laid off from a job is a shock, but it’s even worse if you are already experiencing financial difficulties. If you’re struggling with debt and are unemployed, consider consulting with a non-profit debt management and credit counselling agency for help.

With their help, you can take a step back and breathe, and know that you’re going to be OK. It might take a while but with careful planning, patience, and having pertinent conversations with the right people, you’ll be well on your way to getting your life back on track.