Money habits

Ask the expert: “I lost two jobs in 24 hours. How can I cope?”

Money expert Alice Tapper offers guidance to a woman who’s found herself in a tricky situation.


“In the space of 24 hours, I was let go from two contracted roles. I have no savings, rent that costs upwards of £1,300 a month, a stack of debt to pay off, and I somehow need to survive. If I’m totally honest, I really don’t know how I will do that.

“Last week, I was called into a meeting for the first job and given the news. I was shocked and devastated. My work is everything to me, so being told that I was being let go – and that it was simply ‘a business decision’ – was extremely hard to hear.

“I spent the next morning grieving the loss of my reliable income but feeling thankful for the fact that I had a second job to help keep me afloat. But, a few hours later, I received an email from that job saying that I, like many others, was being let go due to organisational restructuring. It was the final blow to my finances.

“Since then, I’ve been desperately applying for jobs – but in the meantime, I need a plan. What should I do first? Is there anywhere I can turn for help? And how do I deal with the emotional side? I know it’s not my fault, but I’m embarrassed to tell my family and friends about my situation.”

-          Beth, 29, Devon

“Make sure that anywhere you go is free; you don’t need to pay for debt advice”

– Alice Tapper, campaigner and the founder of Go Fund Yourself

Expert response:

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. The first thing to do is see if there are any redundancy payments owed to you. You want to make sure you're getting what you deserve, so it might be worth getting some legal advice. Acas and Citizens Advice both offer free legal services. Citizens Advice also provides financial and debt advice, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

After that, I would immediately start looking at any benefits that you might be able to claim. Try the Inbest Benefits Calculator; you fill in a short questionnaire and it’ll tell you whether you might be entitled to New Style Jobseekers Allowance, for example, or various forms of Universal Credit. It’s a good place to find out what help might be available.

My biggest concern is the fact that you’ve mentioned debt. If you can’t make the minimum payments required, it’s important to get advice. I mentioned Citizens Advice as one place you can go, but I’d also really recommend Step Change, which is a charity offering support to people struggling with debt. Make sure that anywhere you go is free; you don’t need to pay for debt advice. They can do things like freeze the interest for certain periods and help make sure that it doesn’t snowball into a bigger, unmanageable problem.

Next up, I’d start thinking about how you can cut your costs. Is it possible to change your living situation to reduce your rent payments? Could you temporarily move in with a family member, for example? Or perhaps you could do a flat share with a friend to create a bit more breathing space.

Then it’s time to start thinking about what’s next. The good news is that unemployment is still relatively low. There are jobs out there and there are services that can help you for free. For example, Young Women’s Trust offers free coaching and CV training for women aged 18 to 30 in low- or no-income situations.

As for the emotional side, it’s very real. There is unfortunately a bit of a stigma around unemployment and feeling embarrassed is normal. Just remember that it’s not a personal thing to be the victim of restructuring in an organisation.

I know you must feel very scared right now. But with the rising cost of living, lots of people are in scary situations. You have every right to keep your situation private – but if you do open up to close family and friends, you may find that you’re not as alone as you think.

Alice Tapper

Alice is the author and creator of Go Fund Yourself, a money expert on BBC Morning Live and columnist for Glamour magazine.

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