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What to do when unemployment runs out?

Updated on September 29, 2012

My Advice on What to do when Unemployment Ends

So, you've been on unemployment, and now it has run out, or it is about to. You've probably been trying to get a job, but because of this lousy economy, you haven't had much luck. What are you to do?

Or maybe you've just stumbled on this page thinking about "what if unemployment runs out?" I know, it's so hard to know when you'll find a job, and how long you'll have unemployment benefits, considering that congress always talks about extending unemployment as a political maneuver. It's hard to live with uncertainty. As you'll see, I recommend cutting expenses, making sure you can pay for your housing, and trying to find a side job or odd job to make some money. This is the advice that I would give a friend. It's sincere.

Page updated 5/18/2012

Photo Credit (CC licensed)

Unemployment ran out... Now what??!

Meatloaf is a cheap and easy dish to make
Meatloaf is a cheap and easy dish to make

Housing, Food, Electricity, Medicine

Above all else, you need to have enough money to pay for housing, food, electricity, and medicine. If you can't pay for these things, it's going to get a lot worse.

Housing - Pay for housing before paying for anything else. If you need to let your house go into foreclosure, then that's what needs to happen. But you need to be able to pay for a roof over your head. Find a cheap place to rent, if you can. Many places check credit and/or require first/last month's rent and sometimes even deposit. So you may need up to 3x the cost of rent to move in. Find arrangements sooner rather than later. Remember that having a foreclosure will make your credit bad. Living with a relative or friend may also be a choice. Or, if you need to, living in your car.

Food - Get food stamps. Buy things that are cheap and last a long time. I highly recommend dry beans, pasta, rice, ground beef, potatoes, eggs, and other basic ingredients. Learn to cook if you don't know how. Most of the time, you'll save money by preparing your own meals instead of buying prepared, plus it will be a lot better for you - less salt, less fat, and less preservatives. Don't buy junk food. Do everything you can to make the food stamps last the whole month.

Electricity - Check out these tips on how to save money on heating. Use as little electricity as possible to keep your bill down. Some states offer assistance with heating costs, especially during the winter months. Click here to find the link to your state's website.

Medicine - You probably will qualify for Medicaid. However, if your medicine isn't covered, you may want to check out these free prescription programs.

States Offer Assistance

Find out what you qualify for

Each state has different programs to help unemployed people. You may qualify for food stamps, heating / energy assistance, temporary assistance for needy families, cash assistance, child care assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Medicaid, or other programs.

Working from Home
Working from Home

There's something you can do that will make money!

You just have to figure out what that is...

Below is a list I've brainstormed, but you should make your own list. Write down everything that you are good at, and think hard about how you can make money with your skills. Everyone has something that they are good at. When you're finished brainstorming, start an action plan. Write down the steps you need to take to achieve each goal, and start working on those steps.

For example, if you are going to babysit, you will need to post some advertisements. Write down where you will put the ads. I'd try Craigslist, bulletin boards at grocery stores, community centers, etc. Also word of mouth is very good. Tell all of your friends and family that you are available for babysitting.

21 Ways to Make Money - Odd Jobs, Side Jobs, Offline and Online!

  1. Babysit
  2. Lawn mowing
  3. Shovel Snow
  4. Donate Plasma (It's like donating blood, but for money!)
  5. Sell Your Hair Yes, you can sell your long hair!
  6. Sell Your Stuff on Ebay
  7. Sell Books and DVDs on Amazon
  8. Mechanical Turk A legitimate way to make money online!
  9. Restore Photos Put your computer skills to work!
  10. Take care of an elderly person.
  11. Do odd chores, grocery shopping, etc for a friend or relative
  12. Tutor
  13. Write pages like this one on Squidoo (I make money with this page and you can too!)
  14. Make money blogging
  15. Participate in Medical Studies
  16. Join the Peace Corps Get out of the country for awhile. Maybe the economy will be better when you come back.
  17. Sell your stuff on Craigslist
  18. Clean Houses
  19. Do Landscaping
  20. Participate in Online Surveys & GPT sites
  21. Know how to crochet? Sew? Blow Glass? Take great photos? Carve Wood? Paint? Any other craft? Sell your homemade stuff on Etsy
  22. Make money writing on Hubpages

Poll question ~

Do you think you can make money working online?

See results

Cut Your Expenses

For more money in your pocket!

Get Rid of Your Phone(s) and switch to this free cell phone program for people who are on food stamps. However, don't get rid of the phone if you rely on it to get employment related calls. But you may be able to change your phone plan so it costs less.

Shop at thrift stores, walmart, and the dollar store. If you aren't already shopping at these places, you might be amazed at what you can find. Save money on clothes, toys, electronics, furniture, etc.

Reduce your Car Insurance Cost By getting rid of cars you don't use, or reducing the amount of insurance coverage. Compare quotes with other insurance companies to see if you can lower your rate by switching. If you have a good driving record, you might find Geico to be cheaper. You may be able to get a lower rate by taking a driving class. This continues to the next idea.....

Call up companies and ask if they have a cheaper plan. Spend time calling each company, like the cable company, phone company, garbage company, etc and see if there is any way to reduce your monthly bill.

Save Money on Doctor Visits If you don't have health insurance, consider going to a health clinic that's inside of a drug stores. These are becoming more common in the United States. If you have Rite Aid in your area, you can click here to locate one with a health clinic. Also, a good thing to remember is that the emergency room always costs more than a regular doctor's visit, so if you can, see a doctor before your medical problem becomes an emergency. Some doctors are willing to accept a lower cost if you are paying with cash because then they don't have to deal with the insurance companies. You can be selective about seeing the doctor. Many things get better on their own. See this link: When should I see a doctor for a cold or flu?

Connect with Family Members, Friends, and Your Community!
Connect with Family Members, Friends, and Your Community!

Stay Sane ~ Stay Connected to Others

You will get through this

I believe that the way to get through this hard time is by sticking together. Even if you have no money, if you have a good heart and help others in any way you can, you will likely receive assistance back. It might not be direct or obvious, but I think helping others is really important. Sometimes people might be in the same situation you're in, and they might not be able to pay you, but if you need a meal to eat, or a place to stay, they might be willing to help you.

It's easy to get depressed. Try to think of those who have less than you and feel grateful. Find the time to volunteer. Talk to your family and friends, but don't complain. Instead, do what you can to help them. If you believe in God, pray. Go to church. Connect with other people. You aren't alone in this.

More Advice for Hard Times - Job search help, places to get assistance, cheap food ideas, etc

*** Please bookmark this page and check back regularly for more updates. I will try to link to helpful websites and resources. If you come across some good info, please feel free to share it in the comments below. We can all work together and support each other and help us get through these tough times. ***

Don't Give Up.... Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush - A Song Written during the High Unemployment of the 1980s....

Please don't give up... It's going to be alright.

Comments? - I'd love to hear from you! Remember, you're not alone.

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    • profile image

      AutoInsuranceGuru 4 years ago

      Nice reminder that there are so many options in life. Its really easy to get in a rut and think that nothing you do can change things, but things can get better. Thanks!

    • profile image

      maggieapple 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I hear that! I'm in the same boat. It is very depressing.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 4 years ago from State of Confussion

      Its not easy wondering what to do when the unemployment runs out. Do you register again? For me when the unemployment runs out, and I would have to register again, I have a job that starts that same day. Its nice how prayer works.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 4 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @anonymous: Getting a job with housing is a good option to consider, if you are in a bind about a place to live, or just need to cut costs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Check out "Jobs With Housing" blog.

      There's a twitter feed with a daily job with housing and there's an ebook (a dollar on Amazon) that has lots of resources for anyone who needs a job and housing.

    • profile image

      fcinternetmarketing 4 years ago

      Great source of information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great ideas except...I'm 64 years old and have heart disease. I can't mow my own lawn or shovel my own snow. Tutoring has dried up. Mechanical Turk is legit but pays about $1 /hour for someone with my typing skills. I have been looking for work for years. Usually my application is ignored, but when I do get an interview they are eager to get me out of there in a hurry to make time for the younger applicants. I am looking forward to living on a small social security payment and minuscule pension. I'm happy to know the economists think the recession is over. It's not.

    • GrtHtsCoaching profile image

      GrtHtsCoaching 5 years ago

      Great info! My heart aches for people in this terribly unfortunate situation. As a career coach, I encounter many people who are nearing this position. You've offered some really useful tips here.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I think self-employment is the answer. Poverty forces us to be creative. At least, that's how it worked for me.

    • frugalfinance lm profile image

      frugalfinance lm 5 years ago

      Really informative lens, will definitely help people in a difficult situation!

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. I hope that I am never in that position. Blessings.

    • JonoAdams profile image

      JonoAdams 5 years ago

      Very helpful, we all fall on tough times every now and then and it's helpful to have this info on how to prioritize finances when that happens.

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 5 years ago

      Very good advice. Nice and very informative lens. Have a great day!

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @anonymous: Thanks, Tim... I'm so glad that my article has helped!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is so perfect and exactly what I needed at this moment. It's hard to find stuff like this on the internet. It makes one feel that you are the only one unemployed but it is nice to see Im not.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for the lens. A great solution can be to look into a local/national temporary staffing agency. You can usually find a way to make ends meet and buy yourself a little more time. Most let you create a profile that includes the types of jobs you are qualified or interested in experiencing and this is a great way to find something that suits you most.

    • XODM profile image

      XODM 5 years ago

      I definitively think so, just finding the right niche & working it.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @Gypzeerose: Ebay now allows people to list 50 items free each month.

      Great suggestions! I hadn't thought of a potluck - what a nice way to have dinner while sharing the cost. And I do think that bankruptcy might help people keep their car and home. Thanks for the input! I always like to hear others' suggestions - so many things I haven't thought of.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Excellent lens - informative, and mostly outstandingly: caring. I was very impressed that you featured so many great resources: bloggers and ezine article writers who had valuable stuff to say. I am attracted to Mechanical Turk - maybe I will check it out. I have used Craigslist and Ebay to generate some dough, as well as selling books on Amazon. Craigslist and Amazon do not have listing fees - I can't remember the rules on Ebay. Sometimes just a little bit of money makes a difference - and it is good to get your home cleared out. Also, free papers work with certain audiences - amazingly enough not everyone is on the Internet. I have a few other suggestions: a potluck is always great: if you can supply a clean place and one or two nice dishes, you may be able to organize a dinner that is nicer than you could otherwise afford, and indeed have a good time. Play some board games or just talk and listen to music. Also, consider bankruptcy. I am amazed that I am saying this, as hard as I fought it but a chapter 13 can help you save your home, and while you are being protected by chapter 13 is the only time you will be able to pay partial payments on your mortgage. And of course, credit card debt is erased in bankruptcy, although do not think it comes without consequences, it is not a bed of roses. But it may be the best way to keep your car and a roof over your head.

      Like I said this is an exceptionally well-researched and valuable lens. I have included it on my own lens: squidoo lenses I wish I'd written.

    • Huntsnan profile image

      Huntsnan 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing - it is very timely for my situation! Gives me a ray of hope!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great topic, thanks for sharing this information

    • profile image

      iwrite4cash 5 years ago

      Thank you for this helpful and informative lens that you have created to share!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      At one time, years ago, I had 13 part-time jobs. Each one was very limited hours and low-pay, but together they added up to an income that kept me afloat until better times.Bravo on the practical advice you've given here, to help people get thinking about the possibilities for cutting expenses and replacing income.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      @hotbrain: Indeed. Low income is better than no income, when it means there will be milk for someone's kids - and Mechanical Turk or similar small earnings may have a benefit in raising the morale of someone who feels helpless in their current financial situation.

    • OliviaDaughter LM profile image

      OliviaDaughter LM 5 years ago

      One of my family members is receiving unemployment. They are looking for employment currently.

    • profile image

      linkreggie 5 years ago

      Since you have mention finding an extra money, I would like to share some medium on how to have an income. For me, On-line jobs is the best way to have an extra income such as being an article writer, blogger and programmer. Good luck for job hunting.

    • CameronPoe profile image

      CameronPoe 5 years ago

      Of the things you mentioned to make extra money, I believe that selling stuff on eBay is something that's easy to get going. And ought to be considered by everybody.

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 5 years ago from SE Michigan

      Great advice. I fortunately, have never had to use unemployment benefits, but I know so many who have. I try to live within my means and use extra money to pay off the mortgage early. We don't buy anything unless we have the money saved first. That way when tough time come we are at least not dealing with old debt on top of everything else.

    • livinglargeandh profile image

      livinglargeandh 5 years ago

      Some proactive steps to tackle a really tough situation.

    • profile image

      PhillyPhilPhil 5 years ago

      Good tips. Lawn mowing, gardening, and raking leaves in my neighborhood kept me afloat several years ago.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wish more people giving out advice about economics would write articles like this. Truly practical.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @mojoCNYartist: Yeah, Mturk was really low paying when I looked at it last. But when brainstorming, I think it's good to list a whole bunch of ideas, and then sort them out into best paying/most promising.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @kerbev: That is a good idea, if you can get all of the supplies to set up one cheap enough!! I guess if you have good soil and land you don't need to spend too much on set up costs. Vegetables do cost a lot so that would be quite a savings, not to mention delicious!

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 5 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @genuineaid lm: I agree that it would be best to start on these ideas before unemployment runs out. But sometimes there are just no jobs, and people get stuck in a desperate situation.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very positive message, i enjoyed it!

    • profile image

      genuineaid lm 5 years ago

      You shouldn't wait for the unemployment to run out, look for a good job as soon as you can. Or start a good business if possible :)

    • CCTVwebmaster profile image

      CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

      Very informative lens, thank you!

    • SadSquid profile image

      SadSquid 5 years ago

      Good advice, not just for people who's unemployment is running out but for everybody affected by the lousy economy....I like the practical advice, and he advice about mental health.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      How about plant a veggie garden. Save on food costs and sell your surplus.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Sound like good advice for people whose unemployment is running out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just blessed this in January but wanted to run over to congratulate you on front page honors!

    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      Good ideas, but Mturk kinda stinks now.....they have really low paying assignments as of lately. So basically you will work at 3rd world wages just to get something.

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      You have some great tips here!

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Great tips and advice for handling this difficult situation affecting so many people. ~~Blessed~~

    • Vortrek Grafix profile image

      Vortrek Grafix 6 years ago

      Nice job on side jobs etc. Lots of us on Squidoo are here to try to make a few extra bucks. We do Youtube and Cafepress as well. Hadn't considered photo retouching as a business yet, though have been doing so privately with our own pictures using Will check that out. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @Frischy: Thanks, Grouchy, you've given me some ideas!

    • profile image

      Jason Sositko 6 years ago

      I did a Squidoo search with the exact words of your title, I was thinking about a lens on this topic, I thought it a strange coincidence that you had just blessed 2 of my lenses. what's the odds of that? My significant other just ran her 99 weeks out, she did try to get another job early on, but her logic, which I didn't particularly agree with was, "why would I take a job that pays the same as my unemployment?" I had told her, if you lay off too long it may not be that easy to get motivated again, and employers will wonder why you didn't work so long, In her case, I was wrong on her motivation, it is amazing how a mortgage coming due can motivate. but I was right on the employers holding it against her, in fact she applied for 6 jobs in 3 weeks, Only the Grocery store job actually came out and said they didn't think they wanted to take a chance, the grapevine let her know about the others, even though, she had 12 years of work with the same employer, that didn't matter much, She finally has taken a minimum wage job, that my 17 year old stepson could do, she will now make less than her unemployment, I consider myself so fortunate that I can make a living doing what I love, It is scary to think someone who was making 17 dollars an hour is now making less than 8. sure hope better times are ahead for all of us, sometimes tough times like these, can push people into avenues they thought not possible, I certainly would not have tried to start a business, had I not grown tired of low paying jobs without security, losing my job 5 years ago was the best thing to have ever happened to me other than the birth of my son.

      Fantastic lens.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @anonymous: Yeah, it's hard times, and although I am happy to see traffic to this lens increasing, it also brings me some sadness.. People are searching for answers and so many people don't know what to do when they can't find a job.

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      @Frischy: Great advice and ideas! I have seen people sell military care packages on Ebay. That might be a money maker. Or homemade gift baskets.

      It's true, you have to let go of pride, and also, don't buy things you can't afford because you feel that you deserve it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      losing my job in 2 days...

      Here we go again

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Good advice! Surviving on a low income is a skill set that can be learned from others who have gone before you. One has to let go of pride, and that can be the hardest thing of all. Another suggestion for income: A single-mom friend of mine would purchase cute items when she found them on sale, then put them all together in baskets she got at the thrift store or dollar store. She would wrap them up cute with cellophane and ribbons. Then she would sell them. It takes some investment up front, but she was doubling her money doing these. Good idea especially if you already have some unused items around the house you could put together some baskets for a bit of seed money to get started.

    • RestlessKnights profile image

      RestlessKnights 6 years ago

      Thanks. I might need this. Hope not though.

    • gengonow profile image

      gengonow 6 years ago

      Good advice!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Stopping back with a fresh angel blessing on this very important issue for too many!

    • CreativeButterf1 profile image

      Kasandra 6 years ago

      Very creative yet excellent ideas! Thank you so much for your work on this lense. It will help so many peopl!

    • Psycho-Gamer profile image

      MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

      very nicely done...but..lets be realistic....most of the jobs u described...unless people starve...their nose is too high for most of those jobs

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 6 years ago

      This lens is positive and purposeful. It's outside my "neighborhood", but it's nonetheless Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Excellent! What a creatively wonderful and helpful idea for a lens. You were smoking hot when you brainstormed this!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 7 years ago from Virginia

      Go ugly early with the budget. Look at what will happen before it runs out if it has been a while.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Love this helpful lens .. dear lovely Heidi. You're so kindly for sharing all these information here. Many ideas and guidance of saving and making money online are so great. 5 stars for you. Have wonderful times .. dearest Heidi :)