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Life happens, and that sometimes means unexpected changes to family, career, and health. While there are presumably thousands of potentially blind-siding life dynamics that affect people every day, there are three significant events that tend to occur for almost everyone. How do you handle falling off the horse with the challenges of a life-changing event? Getting up, dusting off, and having a plan will help ensure you’re able to get back in the saddle. Today, we’ll discuss these three more common unexpected life changes and outline tips for handling them.

Job Changes & Career Shifts
For many in recent months, job changes are the norm. Some have learned to adapt to working remotely, and others found themselves furloughed. Pandemic aside, job changes can happen unexpectedly and throw a wrench in your career plans. Promotions or new jobs can be just as challenging to adjust to as layoffs or terminations.

Landing the New Job
Imagine you come into work as you usually do, and your supervisor’s boss asks to see you in her office. It’s during this conversation that you learn your immediate manager has been let go, and now you’re getting promoted into that leadership role. A job promotion of sorts may come as good news. But now you have to adjust to a new schedule, new responsibilities, and new pay. It can catch you off guard, so be sure to ask plenty of questions about the benefits that come with the new position. For example, maybe you’ll now be required to travel, meaning fuel expense reimbursement may be offered. Your schedule might be different, so planning a healthy and manageable routine for yourself, including mental breaks, lunches, and gym time, is in order. A raise in salary may have you in a new tax bracket, and your accountant can help you review your best withholding strategies. The finance experts suggest not spending your raise right away either. Instead, continue to live on your former salary until you have a chance to evaluate a new budget that reflects your upgraded take-home pay.

Losing the Existing Job
Finding out your position has been eliminated or that you have been laid off definitely qualifies as an unexpected life change. Depending on your situation, it’s usually best to file for unemployment benefits if you are eligible. You’ll next want to consider your health insurance options. You might be presented with options for COBRA coverage, which may offer a short-term extension. But those premiums to maintain insurance can sometimes be ridiculously high. Some job loss situations will qualify as a life-changing event, meaning applying for new insurance, even outside of open enrollment windows, is permitted. In addition to these two critical adjustments, you will want to revamp your resume, tidy up your social media accounts, and begin working your networks for new opportunities. Because you don’t know how long you’ll be without income, consider reworking your monthly budgets to reduce any unnecessary spending or inquire about payment plan options for high balances.

Marital Status Changes
When you got married, you anticipated the union would last a lifetime. But life has a way of shifting gears, and sometimes, divorce can be an unexpected life-changing event. Regardless of how the separation makes you feel, there are a few things you may want to handle right away.

Working directly with your soon-to-be-ex or with representing attorneys, do your best to sort what you can in terms of assets and expenses. Leaving unpaid bills in your name can do a number on your credit. So knowing which accounts need to be changed can help preserve your financial capabilities down the road. You’ll also want to connect with your Human Resources manager at work to make necessary changes to any insurance benefits or beneficiary information. Be mindful of any providers for whom you’ve provided your ex as an emergency or secondary contact, as well. For those who need to change last names, you’ll need proof of your divorce to secure a new social security card and maybe even your driver’s license.

Health Issues, Family Issues, Deaths in the Family
Despite your best efforts to be healthy, sometimes new health concerns arise from out of nowhere and throw life-changing adjustments at everyone in the family. Maybe it’s a diagnosis that requires long term care for a loved one. Or it’s sometimes the horrific news that you or someone you love gets a terminal diagnosis from the doctor. While these times are certainly trying and no one can prepare your emotions for the months ahead, there are a few things worth considering to help organize what your new normal will be.

When It’s You
Accidents happen, leaving people with long-term physical challenges. For others, it’s a routine MRI scan that reveals a previously unknown condition. If the prognosis is grim for you directly, you’ll want to first take time to process the information you’ve received. Allow yourself first to feel the emotions and talk to trusted members of your family or professionals to understand what you’re facing and applicable health options. When it comes to administrative details, you may need to create to-do lists regarding beneficiary information, wills, assets, and expenses. You may need to re-evaluate your ability to work, find new health providers for a specialty treatment, or consider additional insurance benefits.

When It’s Someone You Love
When the news is bad for someone you love, it can sometimes mean life-changing adjustments on your end. If you’re moving an aging parent into your home, for example, your routine, budget, and lifestyle will have to adapt. Itemizing the processes for decision making, consolidating an aging parent’s home or assets, and finding supplemental help at home, will help you navigate each step. Situations vary, and perhaps you’re instead moving young children into your home as a grandparent or legal guardian. The to-do lists may look different, but the process of walking through each necessary change is the overarching goal.

There are plenty of unexpected life changes that can come your way. Some can affect your career, while others are more health or household related. Regardless of what challenges and changes you face, know that a plan and process will always be a solid way to get through. With most significant experiences, protecting your health is a primary part of the equation. Finding new or more comprehensive insurance coverage can often be a great place to start. Work your budget and give yourself time to mentally and emotionally process the changes, too. It can be tough. But rising to the occasion and maintaining your strategy will ensure you continue to be resilient and overcome any circumstance.

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