Finding yourself unemployed is one of the hardest things to endure, so be sure to keep in mind some important tips for surviving if you’re out of work now, or find yourself there in the future. We can all suffer unemployment without ever thinking it will happen to us. Whether from reasons that are our fault or not, it can happen to any of us. This being said, we need to be prepared to deal with unemployment if it ever comes our way to survive until we find another job. Keep in mind these tips for surviving if you’re out of work and be sure to share any you might have with me. After two years of unemployment myself straight after college, I promise you, things do get better with persistence and utilizing these tips below.
1. Get Government Help
One of the hardest things I ever had to do is also one of the best tips for surviving if you’re out of work. Most people don’t have problems asking the government for help, but some of us don’t use that as a first resort, or at least, don’t want to. For several months, I tried to live off credit cards and really, should have just gone for government assistance. I thought I could get a job in no time, and when that didn’t happen, I found myself in a mess pretty quickly. So, be sure to ask for help for healthcare, food stamps and resources to help you find a job. There are many free options, or nearly free options out there if you just ask for help. It doesn’t mean you have to be on assistance forever, but during a pinch, it will help get you by.
2. Ask Your Family for Help
I know that sometimes asking your family to help you while you’re unemployed might seem embarrassing, or hard to do, but don’t hesitate. That’s what family is for! Offer to pay them back when you get a job, and be sure you really do that once you’re employed again. They might need your help someday too, afterall!
3. Shop at Thrift Stores
I’m no snob about getting a bargain at thrift stores, or discount stores. In fact, some of my cutest and clothing items that get the most compliments were all bargain buys. I actually don’t buy clothes unless I really need them, but if I do need something, I almost never go to the mall or a pricey store to buy it anymore. After suffering unemployment and shopping discounted stores so often, I really found I didn’t miss paying so much for a brand name blouse like I used to.
4. Reduce Your Grocery Bill
Whatever you do, cut your food costs if you’re unemployed. Stop eating out, no matter how hard it might be for you to cook at home. But then, don’t resort to ramen noodles and soda to live off! Buy cheap fruits and vegetables and buy cheap foods that will last a long time and keep you full that are also healthy like brown or wild rice, oats, beans and eggs. These can also be seasoned with nothing more than an onion and garlic if you’re low on seasoning expenses. If you can afford meat, great, but don’t make it priority. It’s much better to go without it than to buy cheap meat laced with hormones. I actually save a lot more money now by being a fish only eater than I did when I ate meat. Also, try to buy things when they go on sale, and switch your meals to more basic foods like instead of cereal, cook oatmeal and flavor it with cinnamon, which is cheap, or buy a huge bag of frozen fruit to use instead of fresh, which is cheaper. Or, if you can’t afford that, add some raisins to your oats! They’re cheap, full of nutrients and a great way to add flavor to your breakfast. Get creative with dinner like using BPA free canned tomatoes to make soups, homemade sauces, and never underestimate the powerful flavor just a drop of inexpensive mustard will give to your meals. Trying tricks like these helped me cut my almost $100 grocery budget a week down to $35 when I was out of work.
5. Lower Your Standards
There are many things I don’t believe in lowering your standards on, but when it comes to finding jobs during a hard time, you might just have to. I can go ahead and tell you, there are many places that I never thought I’d consider working at after I had a college degree, but when I was unemployed? Almost anything that was safe was fine with me. I applied at many places that paid minimum wage, and unfortunately, couldn’t even get hired at many of those because I was what they called, “overqualified”. But don’t give up! Keep applying to places that are close to your home so you can save on travel expenses, and make money somewhere, even if it isn’t your dream job. It will at least get you by, pay a few bills and put food on the table. Plus, it’s better to show your future company you were willing to work somewhere during a hard bout of unemployment, than nowhere at all.
6. Get Creative
Another way to help you survive unemployment is to get creative when it comes to making money. What can you do to make some cash? I sold books on Amazon.com for two months and made over $600! They were like new books I’d bought over the last year and hadn’t been touched since I read them. I also sold my pricey juicer and pricey high speed blender, and promised myself I could buy them again one day once I had a job. I also started babysitting, house sitting and dog sitting for a few months, and also cleaned homes in my neighborhood several times. Later on, thankfully, I found a part-time job and then, found a career in freelance writing. Get creative however you can. Yard sales, selling items on Craigslist, eBay, etc. are all great ways to make money until you find part-time work.
7. Connect with People
This is a tip that can help in multiple areas of your life. The worst thing you can do while you’re unemployed is sit at home, watch TV, and feel sorry for yourself while browsing Craigslist. I know, because that’s so easy to do, but it will not get you anywhere! What you must force yourself to do is start connecting with people. Go out to coffee with a friend, or just go to free community functions, church, the library, etc. Meet people, talk with people and you never know, you might just find a job in the process! Better yet, connecting with people is a great way to get yourself out of the house and help you feel normal. It also prevents depression associated with being out of work as well. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost anything to connect with other people. If nothing else, just go visit a friend or have one over!
While you’re unemployed (if you don't have children) besides rent and utilities, if you can afford to live on your own, the only expenses you should have are your food expenses and a cell phone. Surviving on the bare minimum won’t only help you appreciate your belongings much more, but when you do get a job, chances are you’ll spend your money better than you did before. I also found that I appreciated the help of my family much more after truly needing it during that time in my life as well. Do you have any tips for surviving if you’re unemployed?