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Moving On

Being laid off can be stressful at any age, but it is especially challenging if you haven’t had to search for a job in years and your skills are rusty. Some people your age might be thrilled to get a severance package and retire early. But if you aren’t ready financially (or just don't feel like retiring yet), you need to take extra steps to get through this period of joblessness.

Creating a new budget that prioritizes the essentials so you can put your final paycheck, severance pay (if any), unemployment benefits and emergency fund to their most important uses is the first step. Next, figure out the best way to manage your debts in light of your new situation.

Claiming Social Security benefits if you’re old enough  and taking early distributions from a pension might be necessary to help you get by. So might withdrawing Roth IRA contributions – or taking advantage of the exception for workers who are 55 and have separated from their employers to take penalty-free early 401(k) distributions. It’s important to understand the implications of tapping any source of retirement income earlier than you originally planned. You also need to make sure you have adequate health and life insurance if you lost those benefits along with your job.

Finally, knowing about, and taking advantage of, all the job-search resources that may be available to you – from outplacement services to employment agencies and recruiters – can help you land your next full-time position sooner and possibly tide you over with short-term work in the meantime. You might even consider moving into a new line of work, like consulting or teaching, or starting your own business. It will take time, but once you’ve worked through these stages, you will be in better shape to survive the layoff and make new plans for your future when you are re-employed and back on your feet.