Ten tips to survive retrenchment
Arguably one of the worst moments in life, retrenchment is plainly unpleasant, regardless of how much support you get to minimise the emotional blow. During tough economic times, it has become widespread business practice. So, after you and your family have absorbed the initial shock of your retrenchment notice, here are some tips to help you survive this stressful time:
1. Do not take it personal
It’s easy to take it personal. You’re a loyal human who dedicated much of your time and energy to your job.
Truth is, it is not your fault, the company probably made a financial decision for its future existence and you did not feature in that future.
The sooner you come to terms with this, the better for you, and it opens one to new possibilities.
2. Overhaul your resume and get it out there
This may seem obvious, but looking for a new job takes time, and you may not even make the shortlist for most positions.
Ask the human resource department or specialists handling your retrenchment about the possibility of redeployment.
Often in big organisations, there may be opportunities in other divisions. Be open to the possibility and remember you may take a pay-cut in a new role.
Don’t be disheartened if you’re not getting any call-backs for jobs you have applied for. Just keep going.
3. Reinvent yourself and your career
If you are thinking of starting a new business venture, be realistic about the projects and business ideas that you get tempted into.
A new business – or even buying an existing one that looks profitable on paper – can drain you financially.
Develop a coherent business plan and get a reputable business consultant or your business banker to vet the details. This is not the time to take uncalculated risks.
4. Cut your household budget
Bills will not stop coming even after retrenchment, so this is the time you go through your monthly household budget with a fine-tooth comb.
You need to be strict and clinical about the expenses that are unavoidable and those that are luxuries and can be suspended until you are have a regular income again.
5. Hire a financial planner
This truly is the best time to get a financial expert on your side. There are some big, important financial decisions to be made during such a time, and a qualified financial planner can help you make them with confidence.
Either that, or if you do not have enough money, talk to someone who can help with decisions such as where to reinvest your pension fund.
Someone who has gone through the same experience can give deep advice too.
6. Whatever it takes, keep off your pension fund
Cashing in your pension fund can be one of the most financially damaging decision you can make.
Your retirement savings is your money, but not today, so it may be tempting to cash it all in and treat your pension fund like you’ve just won the Lotto, but don’t forget why you have this money saved up in the first place.
If you cash in the entire pot, you’re robbing yourself at age 60 – it’s that simple.
Before you cash in even a portion of the fund, find out how much tax you’ll have to pay on that money. Whatever it takes, keep it invested.
7. Transfer your pension fund into a preservation fund
As the name suggests, a preservation fund is meant to protect your pension money.
If you bank here, you can withdraw later but the trick here is that the longer it stays there, the better. You can decide how the money is invested, but just don’t cash it in.
8. Evaluate your upkeep until you start earning again
If you are worried about covering your living expenses, find out what your severance package is and how long it will last without dipping your fingers into your emergency fund.
Cut expenses and see how you can make a few bucks to live off even as you look for another job.
9. Think retrenchment cover
If you are in a volatile industry like the media industry, you should probably take a retrenchment cover.
If you have a policy that covers retrenchment specifically then you are in good company. It could help ease your financial burden.
10. Do not be afraid to ask for financial relief
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for better interest rates, reduced instalments on your accounts or even payment holidays.
But whatever you do, don’t ignore your debt obligations. If you are struggling to keep up your debt payments, a conversation with the credit manager at your bank or a debt counsellor will go a long way in preventing judgments and blacklisting.
Remember, your credit record is taken into account when you apply for a subsequent loan, so you want to keep that as clean as possibl