Health insurance is another area of concern. Fortunately, if your former employer offered health insurance, you can continue coverage through the Department of Labor's COBRA program. The biggest drawback: COBRA can be expensive, since you have to pay the premiums previously covered by your employer. Monthly premiums may range from $300 to upwards of $600 or $700, estimates Steve Cassaday, a certified financial planner and president of Cassaday & Company in McLean, Va.
If credit-card debt starts piling up, Heider suggests reaching out to your credit-card company to see if it would accept a reduced-payment plan for a period of time. "It's easier to negotiate with a credit-card company, assuming you have good credit and have been a loyal customer," he says.
As a last resort—before you get to the point of having to liquidate major assets like your car or house—you can withdraw money from your retirement accounts. If you take money out of your 401(k) before age 59 1/2, you'll have to pay income tax on the amount you withdraw, you'll miss the tax-free growth you'd otherwise receive, and you'll likely get hit with early withdrawal penalties. Withdrawing from an IRA before turning 59 1/2 will also be costly, since you'll usually need to pay income tax and a 10 percent early withdrawal fee.
The good news? Projections for job growth are promising: Moody's Analytics forecasts U.S. employers will add 5 million new jobs over the next two years. Says Cassaday, "I think the demand for employment is like a coiled spring right now, and I think we could have massive increases in employment over the next few years."