Imagine coming home from work one afternoon to find your flatmate in the foetal position, hugging a bottle of cheap wine, surrounded by a pile of wet tissues. There could be many reasons but two will spring to mind – they have either just split up with someone or they have lost their job. Its a harsh reality to face and it is something that happens all too frequently. What do you do when your flatmate loses their job?
Start with joining them to finish the wine, go out and grab another bottle and then make some plans.
Firstly – don’t freak them out, Its fair to assume that they are already a little fragile having lost their job in the first place. Back off, be supportive and be around to listen if they need to talk – might be wise not to ask too many questions for a day or two.
Offer some support – maybe you can help with a rewrite of their resume, or maybe you know someone who is hiring in their industry? If not, be prepared to spread the word, or help them out in some way.
Consider where the rent and bills are at. If your rent is paid in advance each month, then you will know where your flatmate is with their rent. Have a look at what else is owing and see if you can make a plan to pay parts of it. That way, there is not so much pressure on your flatmate to exhaust their savings or their severance pay.
Most people when they lose a job are paid out a sum of money on departure – holiday pay and other accrued leave has to be paid out by law. Reassure your flatmate that they have a roof over their head.
If your house is a shared house with more than just the two of you, make some time to talk to the others without gossiping or assuming. Your flatmate will let you know what happened,when they are ready.
Think about your social activities – if you normally eat out or do stuff together, choose a restaurant or a cafe that is not too expensive, and maybe a BYO rather than licensed. Be prepared to pay for the bottle of wine or bring a six pack of beer home to share there rather than hitting the local pub on a Friday night.
You will have to ask the tough questions at some point – especially if your flatmate is struggling to find work for along period of time. When you do ask the questions, be gentle and supportive. Don’t hold an intervention or attack your mate. You just need to know that the bills and the rent can be covered and you need to trust their answers.
Its a slippery slope lending money – when you lend money, you need to be prepared not to get it back, either for a while or ever. If your flatmate has not had any luck in finding a job, protect yourself and see that they use other sources to borrow money rather than loaning it. Lending a lazy $50 before payday happens here and there, but it is a whole other ball game covering rent and other bills.
Its never easy when you lose a job or have a bit of a crisis, and you never know hen it might happen to you. So if you do find your flatmate or yourself in this predicament, be honest, be supportive and be a good friend. You never know if the boot may be one day on the other foot.