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10 financial steps to take the minute you lose (or quit) your job

(FINANCE) If you quit your job or get laid off, money can be a tremendous stressor. Here are some ways you can immediately take control.

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Quitting or losing your job?

Whether you saw it coming or not, being laid off is always a bit of a shock. And even after months of consideration, quitting your job can leave you wondering what comes next, and how you’ll stay afloat until that next thing actually comes along.

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Traditional advice emphasizes dipping into savings, but for many Americans, that’s just not an option.

What do you do when you barely have a month’s worth of expenses, if that, and your career is in transition?

Do these ten things and feel calmer, more confident, and ready to conquer that job search with everything you’ve got.

10 things to do right away

(1) What do you have? Checking and savings accounts are an obvious place to start, but don’t neglect stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, and even the cash you have lying around. Depending on how you manage them, credit card points could be a small boon. Liquidate them for groceries, or cash them in to cover moving expenses if your situation is dire. Don’t forget to take into account any debts you owe, through your credit cards, student loans, or otherwise.

(2) What could you get? If you were laid off, you may be eligible for a severance package from your former employer, and this might be something you can negotiate. Don’t sell yourself short here. Being laid off also grants you access to unemployment benefits, and it could only hurt you to wait to apply. It only takes about an hour, and you can expect to hear back in about a week. Expect to receive a maximum of about half your former salary, and in some states you’ll need to fill out a weekly form to prove you’re actively looking for work.

(3) What could you get if you really, truly had no other options? I’m talking credit, and should definitely be your last resort. Nonetheless, it can be reassuring to know what could be there for you if you needed it, and if you inform yourself now about the various interest rates and other terms, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions down the line.

(4) How do you spend? This is going to take some time, but it’ll be worth it. Look at bank statements and credit card statements from the past two or three months to figure out how you’ve been spending your money lately. Keep track of predictable recurring payments like gym memberships and car payments, as well as more variable bills like electricity and water. If you haven’t moved recently, you could even check out utility bills from last year that correspond to the upcoming months, to get a more accurate estimate of what’s in front of you.

After rent and bills, create categories for your spending. You could simply use “Transportation,” “Food,” and “Entertainment,” or you could get more specific: “Transportation,” “Groceries,” “Restaurants,” “Movies,” and “Bars” might cover most things, and you could throw in a “Misc” for good measure. Do what makes sense for you – just be sure you get it all.

(5) How will you spend? Don’t forget expenses you may need to pay now that you’re unemployed. If you got insurance through your employer, you’ll need to find your own coverage. Same goes for gym memberships, public transit passes, etc.

(6) What can you cut? Now you know exactly how much you have, and how much you *want* to have for normal monthly expenditures. But since you don’t have your regular income anymore, unless you’ve been miraculously good at saving, you’re going to need to cut back. It’s important, though, to not cut out every little thing that makes life worth living. Sitting in a cold, dark room eating ramen and drinking tepid water isn’t going to get you fired up for a job search.

Do you actually use and need Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu to be happy? Pause one or two until you’re back on your feet. Could you run on a trail instead of a treadmill? Could you improve your cooking skills and only eat out occasionally? You have more time on your hands – put it to good use and save some dough.

We recommend checking out Truebill which will find, track, and help you cancel subscriptions (some you won’t even remember you are paying for).

(7) Make a comprehensive budget. After you’ve gotten a handle on your assets and your expenses, plan out a monthly budget for the next six months or so. This is how much you can spend in each category every month, and it should have a little wiggle room for random fun so your soul doesn’t die. If you’re thinking, “There’s no way I have enough money to survive for six months,” don’t worry. Help is coming your way.

(8) Pay attention to your groceries. Do you have a tendency to buy a bunch of stuff that sounds good but that you’ll never cook, or that can’t possibly be combined to make an edible meal? Fix that by planning out your meals in advance and buying what you need for those meals. Limiting the number of trips to the store can also reduce random purchases.

(9) Get a job-related gig. Finding a part-time job of some sort ensures a steady stream of income and enough time to dedicate to your real job – job searching. Were you a copywriter? There are a million freelance copywriting gigs with your name on them. Teacher? Try tutoring. If you can find a gig that falls under your career umbrella, it’ll be worth putting on a resume and you won’t have to explain away an awkward gap.

(10) Get a random gig. Although not ideal, the gig economy has officially arrived, and it means you’ve got options. If your career doesn’t lend itself to part-time gigs, or if you’re ready for a break from your usual job description, consider taking on a different role. Drive for Uber or Lyft (or any number of smaller rideshare companies), deliver with Favor or Postmates – check out the services available in your area, and look at community-based job and gig posting boards like Craigslist for time filling gigs.

This too shall pass

You might get paid to fill out surveys, or be a movie extra, or hand out flyers. As long as it isn’t something that makes you so miserable you have no willpower or time left for writing cover letters, any paying gig could be worth checking out.

If you follow these ten steps, you should feel in control and ready to conduct a calm and thoughtful job search, instead of sending out resumes in a panic and accepting the first offer that comes along. Your next job should be an improvement on the last, and financial security will allow you to focus on finding the right fit.

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Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business Finance

Ramp: Corporate card launches to push you to spend LESS

(FINANCE) Ramp up your biz with higher credit lines and simple tools for expense monitoring. Ramp wants to take your worries away with their features.

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Ramp card

You launch your startup. You get the business going and need corporate cards for expenses. Standard issuers may decline to serve you because they see your business as a risk. Or, they offer you a low credit limit. But, you need to purchase pens, paper, coffee, and beer (you are a startup).

Before you head down the rabbit hole of “how will we pay for all those breakfast tacos?” there’s a new corporate card company ready to serve your needs. Ramp launched recently with the goal of providing higher limit corporate cards for startups.

Not only does Ramp provide corporate cards, it makes it easier for businesses to control employee spending. Rather than giving everyone a card with unlimited spending amounts, or only giving cards to certain employees, Ramp allows you to create spending rules and set spending limits for employees.

Also, there are no fees for using the cards. Every employee can have their own white card without any fees attached. The company plans to earn income through transaction fees, just like other card companies.

And, according to this story in Tech Crunch, Ramp allows you to integrate with some accounting software and to centralize receipts and attach them to expenses.

The company has launched with $25 million in backing and has several high-profile startups already using its services, including Candid, Truebill, 8 Sleep and Ro.

To make things easier for companies, Ramp offers a flat 1.5% cashback rate across the board on all purchases, whether you take a ride share or purchase computers, you get the cashback regardless. Ramp said startups can expect limits set 10 to 20 percent higher than traditional card companies.

The company may create competition for Brex, which launched in 2017. Unlike Brex, which has a more complicated points systems, Ramp aims to make cashback, monitoring and setting spending limits a simpler process.

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Business Finance

Why product liability insurance is critical for companies

(BUSINESS FINANCE) The best way to protect your company, and more importantly your customers, is product liability insurance. It keeps your standards up, and lawsuits down.

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product liability insurance

If your small business manufactures products, you need to think about product liability insurance. No matter how good your designs are, or how polished your quality assurance strategy is, there’s a chance one of your products could come to harm a customer. And if that happens, your customer could contact a personal injury attorney and bring a case against you. Personal injury cases are somewhat common, and could cost you hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars if you’re not protected.

Product liability insurance coverage could protect you in the event of such a case. But what exactly is it, how does it work, and how are you supposed to get it?

The Basics of Product Liability Coverage

Let’s start with a high-level overview of product liability insurance. While different carriers and different policies will afford you different types and levels of protection, most product liability coverage is designed to shield your business from the fallout of a company-produced product that causes injury or harm to third parties.

Product liability insurance typically covers the legal fees associated with any product liability lawsuit, as well as medical costs, compensatory damages, and business damages that arise from the incident.

How Products Can Fail

How does a business become liable for a harmful product?

There are four main ways consumers can be harmed:

• Design flaws. If your product is designed in some flawed way, and the consumer gets hurt because of it, they could have a case against you. For example, if you create a deep fryer product with a locking mechanism to prevent burns, but that locking mechanism is weak or easily overridden, a customer could get burned as a result of using the product.

• Manufacturing flaws. There could also be manufacturing flaws. The design itself might be practically perfect, but if a batch of products are made with an incorrect material, or aren’t made to specifications, they could still fail in a way that harms a consumer; for example, a skateboard with a loose wheel might cause someone to fall.

• Marketing flaws. Your product could also be marketed or advertised in a way that eventually leads to consumer harm. If you falsely advertise the capabilities of your product, and a consumer follows them and hurts themselves in the process, they could hypothetically sue you. The same is true if you claim there are no downsides to a product that has downsides.

• Misuse. Even if a consumer misuses your product, your company may still be held at fault. For example, if you don’t specifically warn a customer that misuse could lead to harm, and caution them against specific forms of misuse, they could ultimately bring a case against you.

As you can see, there are many ways your products could lead to a customer getting hurt—and some of them are hard to see coming. While you can implement safeguards at every stage of the process, there’s always going to be a chance that one of your products fails in some unseen, unpredictable way.

The Extent of Damages

You may wonder if you truly need product liability insurance. After all, in the unlikely event that a product fails, you may be able to cover the costs yourself. However, this is extremely risky. The costs of a single product liability case can be devastating, and if you face a class-action lawsuit, or multiple lawsuits, there may be no chance of recovery. Remember, you could be responsible not only for compensating the customer for their injury and their pain and suffering, but also for covering the legal fees of both sides.

Some cases can cost millions, or even tens of millions of dollars.

Product Liability Insurance Rates

Most product liability insurance policies require you to pay a monthly, or other type of regular premium for your coverage. These rates will vary based on a number of factors, including the size of your business, the type of product you’re manufacturing, the extent of your distribution, and how much coverage you desire. Some insurance companies may also want to conduct inspections, reviewing the design and manufacturing of your product firsthand so they have a better sense of your safety standards.

Still, product liability insurance rates are typically reasonable. Shop around for the right insurance provider, and consider bundling your product liability insurance policy with other policies to lower your rates even further.

Conclusion

If your business designs or manufacturers products, product liability insurance is a practical must. It’s easy to get a policy, and most policies are relatively inexpensive, but this safety net could save you from shelling out millions as a result of an unforeseen product flaw. No matter how safe your operations are, or how many supervisory checks you conduct, there’s always going to be a chance that someone is injured while using your product—and that’s when your policy will kick in.

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Business Finance

Small metros may have cheaper homes, but they might not have the jobs

(BUSINESS NEWS) Study by Indeed finds that small to mid-sized metros offer higher adjusted salaries, but don’t pack your bags just yet because your job may not be there

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small metros cheaper house

When I told my parents how much my partner and I would be paying for rent at our new apartment, they quickly pointed out that I could purchase a home for that kind of money in my hometown.

Indeed recently published a study where they determined which cities have the highest salaries after accounting for the cost of living, an adjusted salary. Every city on the list is a small or mid-sized metro area which is why they dubbed their findings, “the small-city advantage.” No surprise to me, my hometown made the list.

My parents are right, I could literally buy a home for the amount of money I pay in rent every month to live in a large metro area. But the equation that determines where I, and many other workers should live, is more complex than salary minus housing.

Indeed’s study also shows that bigger metros have faster job growth and lower unemployment compared to these small to mid-sized metros. This is why the number one city on their list, Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, also has a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Some of the other cities on the list are Fort Smith, AR-OK, Toledo, OH, Laredo, TX, and Rockford, IL.

These areas are cheaper to live in, in part, because they may not offer the kind of job opportunities, and therefore social mobility, you see in larger metro areas. Sure, I could make my money go further in my hometown, but the chances of me finding a job in my industry there are smaller.

Your field of work does matter when considering whether or not the “small-city advantage” could work for you. If you work in tech or finance, two traditionally high-paying fields, then this advantage doesn’t apply.

“Before adjusting for living costs, typical technology salaries are 27% higher in two-million-plus metros than metros with fewer than 250,000 people. Even after adjusting for those costs, tech salaries are still 5% higher in the largest metros than in the smallest ones,” finds Indeed.

If a huge tech company offering thousands of high-paying jobs moved into a city like Brownsville-Harlingen, TX, over time it would get more expensive to live there. This is why people were freaking out so much when Amazon was trying to decide where to locate HQ2. It’s the hamster wheel that is currently driving income inequality in some of America’s largest major metro areas.

Finding the right place to call home is never going to be a single factor decision. Yes, salary is a huge factor, as is the cost of living, but there are also lifestyle factors to consider. What kind of opportunities would you have in this city? How much will it cost to move there? How will this effect the other members of your household?

It’s nice to play the ‘ditch the corporate world and buy a country house’ fantasy after a long day at work, but the reality is far more complex.

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