Sense & Centsibility Blog

Transitioning from Survival to Success

You can reduce stress and financial uncertainty brought on by job loss or reductions in income by focusing on the financial aspects that ARE under your control. 

Transition from survival to success with these five key actions, ten questions to ask your employer before your last day of work, and additional options when facing financial hardship

Dollar sign sitting in life preserver1. Create A Crisis Household Budget & Act On It Immediately 

Use minimum expected income and pay priority expenses first such as housing, utilities, food, medical and basic transportation. Reduce all other household spending and send minimum payments to outstanding bills.


2. Complete An Asset Inventory

Figure out how long your severance package & savings will last and make a list of asset values including retirement accounts. Consider liquidating non-retirement assets before retirement accounts to avoid early withdrawal penalties and impact on income taxes.


3. Maintain Health Insurance

Stay insured and check out eligibility and rates with MNSure at (855) 366-7873 and online  or Minnesota Health Care Programs at (800) 657-3672 or MN Department of Human Services website, or pay COBRA at your own expense.


4. Unemployment Compensation 

File online at or call (651) 296-3644 or (877) 898-9090. Apply for benefits as soon as you are unemployed because your claim starts the week you complete the application. However, you may not apply until after your last work day.


5. Consider Your Career and Training Options

Apply for jobs with local temporary employment agencies and sign up with Minnesota Job Service at or call 800-657-3858 for career & resume building services, re-training, and educational opportunities.


 Top 10 questions to ask your employer before your last day of work:

  1. What is the reason for layoff? Am I eligible for re-employment in the future?
  2. Ask for details on health benefits, retirement plans, and any other benefits the company provides.  When will the coverage expire?
  3. Can you continue receiving coverage of any of the company plans, and for how long?
  4. Check on funds in flexible spending accounts or Health Savings accounts. How long will you have access and are they portable?
  5. When is the final pay check date and will vacation time be paid out?
  6. Will you receive any severance and if so, when will it be paid out?
  7. Does the company offer outplacement services or help to find a new job?
  8. What will the company say when contacted for an employment reference?
  9. Who can be contacted for a reference?
  10. Can a generic written reference be provided for use with multiple employers?


Additional Options When Facing Financial Hardship

  • Contact mortgage lender(s) to ask for a special payment plan or loan modification.
  • Call lenders and ask to defer payments, pay interest only, or rewrite vehicle loans and/or other loans holding an asset as collateral.
  • Call student loan lenders to ask for a forbearance based on financial hardship. For more info, visit
  • NOTE: With any of these additional options, it's crucial that you don't agree to something that you can't afford or is not realistic.


Call LSS Financial Counseling at 888.577.2227 to discuss student loansdebt management strategies, and mortgage foreclosure prevention options.