Feature Articles: Financial Information & Tips
Just lost your job? Don't panic!
Brenda Procter, M.S., state specialist & instructor, Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri Extension; Nancy Flood, M.S., former finance specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Remember that people’s income drops for all kinds of reasons. It may be job loss, but it could also be a recession, death, divorce or something else. Whatever the reason, don’t blame yourself. That wastes the energy you need to do something about it.
Immediately file for unemployment benefits by
telephone or on the Internet. To file by phone, call
1-800-320-2519. On the Internet, go to
If you are denied benefits and you disagree, follow
the directions on the determination form you get back.
Appeal in writing and include your name, Social Security
number, a copy of the determination form and a detailed
explanation of why you disagree.
Talk to your family. You all feel frustrated and need
to express your feelings. Put all issues out on the
table and talk, talk, talk. Include everyone in the
decisions. Talk about what is really important and get
the whole family working together to meet the challenge.
Your family can come out stronger because of this.
Be realistic about your financial situation. Take
stock of family resources and tap into any government or
community resources you can find. Make a spending plan
with your family and use it.
Don’t run from creditors and overdue bills. Decide
which bills are the most important and pay them first.
Communicate with creditors and try to work out a reduced
payment plan. If that is not possible, pay at least
something on your bills. Unless you have a
life-and-death situation, stop using your credit cards
immediately. If you need help with bills, call
1-800-388-2227 to find your nearest Consumer Credit
Ask about any company benefit plans. Check the status
of pensions, annuities, profit sharing plans or stock
If you need help to tide you over right now, contact
the Career Center at 1-800-392-2949 for resources and
advice or contact your local Division of Family Services
(DFS) office to see if you qualify for cash assistance,
food stamps, medical benefits or other services for you
or your children. To find your local DFS office, look in
the phone book or call toll-free at 1-800-392-1261. The
taxes you pay fund these services so use them if you
Remember that money is not your only resource. You
and your family have talents, skills, time and energy
that can be put to work. Think about substituting less
costly foods and goods for costly ones. Your community
might have free things you can do instead of paying for
movies or other costly activities.
Conserve by avoiding waste, taking care of yourself
and keeping things in good repair. Get the most out of
each car trip, oven use, washing machine load and dollar
Accept the stress you feel as human and natural. When
the stress mounts, take steps to reduce it. You might
take a brisk walk every day, escape for a few minutes
with a favorite hobby or activity, spend more time with
people who make you feel good and find something to
laugh about. It helps to get your mind off things now
Start an aggressive job search. You can find books at
the public library on selling yourself and writing a
resume. Call the Missouri Career Center toll-free at
1-800-392-2949 for resources and advice.
No matter what, try to focus on the positive. The following resources and information can help you on the way as you take back control of the situation.
Hot lines and links
- Missouri Career Information hot line, call toll-free 1-800-392-2949
- Missouri Division of Family Services, call toll-free 1-800-392-1261
- Tax Impact of Job Loss, http://missourifamilies.org/learningopps/learnfinance/jobloss.pdf
- Unemployment insurance, call toll-free 1-800-320-2519
- Unemployment Application Web site, www.ui.dolir.mo.gov
- University of Missouri Extension Publications (order toll-free at 1-800-292-0969) or visit http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/.
Special acknowledgement to Jean Ward, Workforce Development/Career Options Program Project Director.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009