What if you lost your job today?

Have you ever considered how you would survive without a job? This question is both uncomfortable and very powerful. It’s uncomfortable if your salary is your main source of income. It’s powerful because it’s a psychological trigger to get your house in order.

We shall all lose our jobs eventually. It’s just a matter of time. Our companies may go bankrupt. Our skills may become obsolete. We can be fired or retire. Whatever the case all jobs will disappear at some point.

So how can we prepare ourselves for this inevitability? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Do your best at your current job so that you become indispensable. Go to work early and leave on time. Do your work diligently. Avoid petty gossip, complaining, and cheap politics. Deliver excellent results. Respect company policies. Be nice and helpful. Learn and develop your skills and become an expert in your field. Doing this will increase your chances of becoming more valuable and employable for a long time.
  2. Save some cash. Save some cash to shield you from unexpected job losses. Aim to have savings that can sustain you for at least six to twelve months. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to find alternative employment within a year or so.
  3. Develop a broad set of skills. For example, if you’re an Accountant learn how to rear cattle. If you lose your accounting job you can start a dairy project. Having a broad skill set insures you against sudden job losses.
  4. Secure your house. Owning a home for your family is the best insurance policy you can have. Knowing that you’ll always have a roof over your head gives you a lot of peace. Even when you lose your job you can go back home and sleep. So while in employment strive to own a modest house.
  5. Get out of debt. Too much debt will enslave you to your job. The fear of money lenders will keep you working harder and harder. With little debt, you can easily weather the storm of job loss.
  6. Build side hustles. A side hustle or business typically needs 3 to 5 years to become sustainable. If you lose your job you simply focus on your side hustle. So build your side hustle while still in employment. Don’t wait to be fired then you start figuring out how to grow coffee.
  7. Build social capital. Your close family and friends will help you in case of a calamity. They will house you, encourage you, and even provide for you. Make sure you invest in the right relationships. Stay active in social circles. Don’t isolate yourself so much from the world.
  8. Get insurance. Some forms of life assurance, health insurance, or job loss insurance may help.
  9. Invest in assets. For example, you can liquidate a piece of land to give you some cash to go through hard times. But you can only sell things you already own.
  10. Build an independent identity separate from your job. You are not your job description. Corporate employees are especially prone to taking on the identity of their employers. However, this identity crumbles when they lose their jobs. Build your passions and interests outside work. For example, The Money Engineer brand is separate from my employer. Whether I still have a job or not I will continue to build The Money Engineer brand.
  11. Strive for self-employment. Wherever possible strive for self-employment. You have more control over your career when you’re self-employed. If you’re a lawyer partner with other friends and start your own law firm. Of course, self-employment is much more difficult and risky than employment but if you’re well prepared it’s more rewarding.
  12. Build other passive income streams like treasury bills and bonds, unit trusts, and shares. These investments are typically hustle-free and can provide an income in case of job loss.

Don’t forget that it’s a certainty that you’re going to lose your job at some point through termination, resignation, retrenchment, incapacitation, or retirement. So enjoy the safety of your job while it lasts but prepare to live without it. Life is much better if you don’t need a job to survive!

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