When you’re between jobs, making ends meet can be tough. It can feel like a balancing act between looking for a new job, paying ongoing living expenses and keeping up with minimum debt payments. And this all needs to be done with a limited budget, which may come from your emergency savings or unemployment checks.
The key to making it work is planning. You’ll need to create a temporary budget to get you through this tough time and carry you until you land back on your feet. This requires a good amount of thought and commitment on your part.
Still, you’ll find it pays off to track and control your spending so that you can live somewhat comfortably even when you’re not working.
Create a Budget
Create a budget with your income and spending in mind. Under normal circumstances, the amount you earn should be more than the amount you spend. But with only an unemployment check – or possibly with no source of income at all – the process is a bit different.
“You have no idea where all your money goes, huh? I’ve been there before. I know it’s frustrating when you can’t seem to get ahead. If you are in this boat, you probably don’t have a budget or at least one that is working for you.” – “The Importance of Creating a Budget” – Listenmoneymatters.com
Although your length of unemployment is often out of your hands, you should aim to find a job within the next three to six months. This means your emergency fund should be able to last you several months. So, your monthly budget should be no more than one-third to one-sixth of your savings. Most of your money during this time should go toward necessities such as rent and groceries.
During this time, cut out unnecessary spending like going out to restaurants, going shopping and spending money on weekend entertainment. Also, consider canceling magazine subscriptions and gym memberships to save a few extra dollars each month. You can reinstate these treats once you’re back to work.
You should also make only the minimum monthly payments on your credit card debts and other outstanding loans. You’ll be responsible for paying a bit more in interest, but it will cost you less now when you have more pressing money obligations and need to make every dollar count.
Eliminate Unnecessary Spends
Do you really need that – Take an honest look at your “discretionary” spending (expenses that are “nice to have”, but not required) and see where you can cut back. Maybe one less premium channel subscription or maybe you can find a less expensive phone plan.
We are what we eat – Eating out (or ordering in) can also add up quickly. Think about planning your meals and cooking at home. This could save quite a bit of money.
Get a Side Hustle
There are many ways to make money in your spare time while you are looking for a job. This will help you make ends meet (and that eases a lot of the stress). Some examples:
- Getaround.com – Earn cash by sharing your car.
- Coach Training – Become a Certified Coach and learn core coaching.
- Survey Junkie – Sign-up to complete surveys and other tasks for cash rewards.
- Doordash – Start delivering today and make great money on your own schedule.
- Airbnb – Earn money as an Airbnb host.
If You Can’t Afford Your Bills
If you find you don’t have a large enough savings or you’re ineligible for unemployment benefits, you may not be able to pay your bills during this hard time. Don’t panic. You have options to help reduce your debt obligations, free up extra cash or make some money in the interim.
Consider applying for a part-time job or performing some freelance work. This may not be an ideal situation, as you may not properly utilize your skills and you won’t make a full-time salary with benefits. Still, it can help you plug the holes in your budget while you look for permanent employment.
If this isn’t an option for you, look into debt reduction strategies. Your main debt resolution option is a settlement, but you can also consider bankruptcy if you’re especially tight on money and don’t see your situation changing in the near future.
Debt settlement is best done with the aid of a debt settlement firm and a professional credit counselor. A counselor at an established firm will help you set up and stick to a saving plan. Then he or she will reach out to each of your creditors one by one with the hopes of settling on a negotiation. In a successful negotiation, you’ll only pay a portion of the full debt or loan, saving you potentially thousands of dollars. This is money that can be put to better use while you’re out of work.