Helping Clients Get Their Finances in Order Before, During, or After Job Loss

By Kimberly Zimmerman Rand

When a client loses their job, considers a career transition, or plans to leave a position to provide caregiving, address health/mental health concerns, or increase their education, career practitioners can guide them through the logical next steps for job search, networking, and other employment considerations. It is also important for clients to consider the financial implications of a gap in employment and ways they can take action to reduce the impact caused by a lack of consistent income.

How to Have a Money Conversation with Clients

While career practitioners provide coaching around salary negotiation, most probably do not have client conversations about finances in general, like savings and debt. When a client loses a job, or voluntarily leaves a position without another one lined up, they may have concerns about how long they can afford to be unemployed, whether they have enough money saved to pay bills, and/or how they can supplement their lack of income in the short term.

For those who grew up in households that did not discuss savings, debt, or money management, or who did not learn about personal finance in school, such conversations can be an uncomfortable – or even taboo – topic. Discussing money can bring up feelings of shame, inadequacy, or anxiety (Rand, 2017b).

Istock 1307541916 Credit Tommaso79

Money conversations can start early in the coaching relationship as clients discuss their target salary range. Practitioners can encourage clients to talk about what they want to achieve with their employment income – fulfilling their values and goals – as this can take the pressure off discussing specific dollars and cents (Rand, 2017a).

Values-based questions are a helpful place to start: Do they want the enjoyment of an occasional fun night out? The security of knowing that if their car breaks down, they have the emergency savings to fix it? The satisfaction of eliminating oppressive student loan debt? By discussing clients’ goals, and acknowledging the associated price tag, these conversations can be less emotional and more pragmatic.

Financial Actions Clients Can Take

Career practitioners can share the following suggestions with clients in anticipation of, or in response to, a reduction in employment income:

  1. Fixed expenses: occur each month and do not change, like rent
  2. Variable expenses: occur monthly, but increase or decrease, such as groceries
  3. Occasional expenses: occur every few months and tend to be less predictable, such as tax or holiday gifts
  4. Unexpected expenses: are not planned and can significantly disrupt one’s cash flow, such as a car repair or hospitalization

Once real spending has been tracked for three months, clients can review each category and determine their spending priorities. They then can take concrete steps to fortify elements of their financial life. For example, clients can reach out to their credit card company to request a lower interest rate, or request a budget billing option from their utility companies to establish a consistent payment each month. Such an exercise can also help career practitioners discuss salary expectations with clients or the appropriate rate to request for freelance work to meet those expenses.

When a client loses or leaves a job, the above activities can help ensure that their finances are in as strong a position as possible. Armed with knowledge of their assets and plans for managing their unemployment, clients can experience their time between jobs as a minor speed bump instead of a major pothole.



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Rand, K. (2017a). How to talk about money. Dragonfly Financial Solutions blog. https://www.dragonflyfinancialsolutions.com/talking-about-money/2017/10/26/how-to-talk-money

Rand, K. (2017b). Why you don't like to talk about money. Dragonfly Financial Solutions blog. https://www.dragonflyfinancialsolutions.com/talking-about-money/2017/10/20/why-you-dont-talk-money

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Kimberly RandKimberly Zimmerman Rand is passionate about people living their best lives through household finance. As a consultant, trainer, and coach, and principal at Dragonfly Financial Solutions LLC, she engages her talents to help others deepen their knowledge, develop their skills, and become more confident in their relationship with money. Kimberly is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and Financial Fitness Coach®. She holds a Master of Social Work in Social and Economic Development and Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Colby College. She can be reached at dragonflyfinancialsolutions.com and at linkedin.com/in/kimberlyzrand/

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