Cutting Your Expenses While Unemployed

July 03 2012

Whether you have lost your job unexpectedly or stormed out the door with your hands in the air, being jobless is scary for just about everyone when it comes to finances. They used to say you should have 6 months of living expenses saved before you quit your job. Now, according to Susan L. Hirshman, author of Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? (www.myfatassets.com), that figure has been edited and you should have 9 – 12 months saved up. Realistically, you can’t always plan for losing your job or other circumstances that may lead to unemployment. So, we have to rely on other resources to get us through.

Here are a few pointers on how to cut costs in your life to make your unemployment a little less painful for you and your family:

Budget
The first thing you need to do is a comprehensive budget outlining your expenses and bills for each family member. Visit your online bank account and get exact dates you pay each of your bills so you can arrange to have enough money in your account. Take a look and see what extraordinary expenses can be eliminated or decreased.

Coupons
Before losing your job, couponing was probably a distant thought. Now you need to make it a way of life. With all the extra time you have during the day when you would normally be at work, use that time to clip coupons, look for online deals, and sort through the junk mail for local steals. If you’re new to couponing, check out online blogs, like The Krazy Coupon Lady (www.thekrazycouponlady.com/) or Couponing 101 (www.couponing101.com). Your local Sunday paper is the best resource for coupons you can clip. For entertainment, Groupon (www.groupon.com) and Living Social (www.livingsocial.com) offer daily deals in your area for 50% or more off normal prices.

Freeze Your Accounts
Some creditors will allow you to freeze your account until you find employment. Gyms often offer this perk, which was originally meant for people who don’t workout in gyms as much in the summer, but it’s perfect for cutting costs for the unemployed. Often times, car loans allow you to skip payments during difficult times. The key to making sure you do not ruin your credit is to get prior approval. You usually can’t get away with asking for forgiveness when it comes to credit, so call all your creditors and find out what your options are. Even if you cannot freeze your account, many times they will lower your minimum payment and take pity on your situation.

Do It Yourself
You just have to get used to the fact that you can no longer afford to pay other people to do your work. Your $50 mani/pedi will be waiting for you when you have a steady income. Wash your own car, clean your own house, and walk your own dog. Your helpers will understand that you have to cut costs for your family’s sake. The biggest thing you can do to save costs is to cook your own food. Going out to eat is no longer an option when you’re on a tight budget. Get out your coupons and shop for your entire week’s meals. Shop smartly and use leftovers to help prepare the next day’s meals. There are many cooks, like Rachel Ray (http://www.rachaelray.com), who have cookbooks with a budget in mind. There are many free online resources as well (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/cooking_on_a_budget).

Temporary Work
If you’ve cut all your expenses, clipped coupons, and you still cannot pay your monthly bills, it’s important you take control and get a temporary job until things pan out. The worst thing you can do is pay out more than you have saved. It is definitely important to take time to search for the right next job, but in the meantime, consider temping for a local temp agency for some extra money. Temporary jobs do not necessarily need to go on your resume, so don’t worry about “devaluing” your resume. There are temp agencies in just about every city, so Google (www.google.com) for a listing of the ones closest to you. Read online reviews to choose the best agency for you. Most temp agencies require that you go into their office to take basic office skills tests before they find you work. They also have exclusive listings for temp-to-hire positions, so you may get lucky and find something permanent.

Unemployment is s different way of life. When you’re forced to live on a fixed income, your life changes. These changes are only temporary, so keep your chin up and full steam ahead!

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