Thankfully the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which pays $ 2,000 per month, is being extended from 16 weeks to 24. However, eventually coverage will run out, as it will for those who qualified for employment insurance (EI) during the pandemic, too.
It’s not too soon to strategize about what’s next for work and your finances. Here’s a road map to help you through the transition.
Start looking for work now, even if prospects are limited
Nannies, retail workers, musicians, servers, small business owners and more will all be looking for jobs in short order. Beat the rush by getting your résumé out there early, updating your LinkedIn profile and brushing up on your interviewing skills. Book as many virtual networking sessions as you can, and if you are new to Canada and don’t know many people, I’d recommend signing up for job alerts on multiple career-search engines, contacting recruiters and referencing free federal and provincial career resources.
I get it. Jobs are scarce right now. Yet prepare during this slow time and you’ll be ready to pounce when a good opportunity does come up. And when you’re interviewing, don’t forget to inquire about how the employer ensures the safety of employees.
You may need to change industries
Certain industries and skill sets have experienced what appears to be a permanent change in their demand curve, and you should consider working in an industry that’s set for growth. For example, anything to do with at-home delivery, safety equipment, health care, online media and marketing, technologies to make working from home more efficient, and digital banking have seen a boost in demand, whereas businesses like dayhomes, restaurants and bars, travel and events will struggle for years to come.
Naturally, industries that are healthy can afford to hire and pay better than those that are struggling. Therefore, my advice is to focus your job search in growing industries, and that might mean you’ll need to figure out different ways to use your skills. You may even find that working in a new industry is rejuvenating.
Permanently reduce your fixed expenses
Like you, I’ve been hoping for a quick economic turnaround and more jobs for Canadians, but it’s taking a while. Thus, if you’re out of work, it’s time to look at trimming larger fixed expenses within your budget, for good. (A fixed expense is one that does not change from month to month such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills — cable, mobile, electricity, water, etc. — loan payments, monthly insurance and child care.)
These expenses take more time to cut than variable expenses (e.g. streaming subscriptions), because they can require selling cars or furniture, moving to a less expensive home, renegotiating debts and so on. However, once changed, they can produce hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, in savings every month.
(Always cross-reference major financial decisions with a professional such as a certified financial professional or money coach, and a real-estate professional if you’re dealing with a home sale.)
The opposite logic applies if you’ve had one spouse at home and not working, perhaps caring for an elderly parent or children. If work is available, it might be time for that spouse to step back into the workforce and permanently increase your household income.
When work does commence, consider doing more than one job
Some people call this side-hustling. Examples include a postal worker who moonlights as an Uber driver on the weekends or a teacher who tutors in the evenings or a freelancer who signs up for a full-time six-month contract, but still services other regular clients.
For many people who’ve been relying on CERB or EI (and possibly shoring yourself up with a line of credit), this is an excellent way to get more money in your pocket quickly when you’re back to work.
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And if you’re champing at the bit to use this time off to start that small business you’ve always wanted to launch, make sure you’ve tested your business plan before investing money in it, when funds are limited to begin with.
As always, a backup plan is essential. In case the income-support benefits are not extended further, and you are still without work, doing what you can to build up some savings — even $ 5 per day — could go a long way toward tiding you over until you get back to work.
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What’s your plan when CERB or EI runs out?