- Personal Finance
How to Live Without a Job
Have you found yourself without a job and no income? If so, you're not alone. The problem of how to pay your bills without a job is a tough one, but there are several things you can do to be proactive. Consider some of these ideas to survive without a job until your next one comes along.
Living Without a Job Takes Creativity
Living without an income is a significant challenge. But even those who have willingly retired may find that they need to be frugal due to a reduced income.
To live without a job and have your basic needs met, you'll need to "think outside the box" now more than ever. Your typical ways of acquiring things may need to be changed. Because you do not have a steady income, and your job search may take much longer than expected, you must do everything you can to keep your expenses low and conserve any funds that you do have.
Consider a Need vs. a Want
When there's no job to pay for your bills, it's more important than ever to know the difference between a need and a want. Consider how you feel about the following:
- Is cable TV a need or a want?
- Are designer-label clothes a need or a want?
- Is coffee from Starbucks instead of homemade a need or a want?
It's easier to separate needs from wants when we consider the basics for survival: healthcare (such as medical visits or medicine), food, shelter, clothing, and clean water.
While it's important to enjoy life and have fun, sacrifices must be made when you're unemployed. Think about any ways you might change your habits to reduce your spending. Once you receive a new job, you can re-evaluate your situation.
Living Without a Job: How to Cut Your Spending
Taking multiple trips for errands
Increased spending on gasoline
Driving as a means of transportation
Spending money on gasoline
Use public transportation, walk, or bike
Using a credit card to pay for groceries
Paying interest on items you can't afford
Learn how to coupon for food, baby needs, and personal care items
Going to the theatre to see a movie
Paying for 2 - 3 hours of fun
Check out free movies from your local library
Subscribing to cable TV
Receiving an extra bill every month
Keep the internet instead. It offers TV, news, and you can apply for jobs.
Purchasing produce from a market
Healthy food, but at what price?
Grow your own organic garden cheaply
Paying for a gym membership
Ask yourself: do I use it?
Exercise at home or run/walk in your neighborhood
Other Ways to Live Without a Job
There are more ways you can reduce your stress while you're living without an income. Try these tips for the bills you receive:
- Auto insurance: Read the fine print of your agreement, if you haven't already. Check to see if there's a discount you or your spouse qualifies for. Consider becoming a one-car family.
- Bank statements: Examine all transactions. Look for ways you can cut your spending next month or for charges that have been wrongly assessed to your account. Consider using cash instead of plastic for items like gasoline, food, and personal care.
- College Tuition: Going into further debt when you're already out of a job is a set-up for financial problems. A college education is by no means a guarantee for future employment. On the other hand, being unemployed means that you might qualify for financial aid that you wouldn't have before. Being unemployed also means that you'll have more time to give to your studies. Your unique situation means that no one else can decide what's right for you. If you're absolutely convinced that you cannot put school on hold, look into attending a community college.
- Clothing: Want new items at a used price? If you conclude that it's a need and not a want, don't resort to retail first. Try shopping on eBay first to see if you can get a discount deal.
- Credit cards: Make the minimum payment only during your time of unemployment. If you have multiple cards, contact a consumer debt counseling service to find out if consolidating these debts would benefit you.
- Miscellaneous items: Check your closets and drawers for things you haven't used that still have the tags on them. If you have the receipt, return these items.
- Mortgage: Tell the lender you've lost your job and ask what your options are.
- Rent: Cut your payment in half by finding a roommate.
- Student loans: Contact your creditors by phone or visit their websites. Find out if you qualify for deferment, forbearance, or income-based repayment (IBR).
Friends Provide Support During Unemployment
If you've just recently become unemployed, you may want to talk with friends, family, or other trusted contacts to get a feel for what the job market is like in your area. While the media may say the economy is improving, your job-seeking friends may have another take on the situation. You might also get clues on things you need to know before sending out resumes, especially if it's been a long time since you've looked for work.
Living Without a Job is Stressful
Living without a job is stressful not just for the strain on finances that it causes. The experiences you're encountering during this time will probably include:
- A job search that usually takes six months in a good economy, longer in a weak economy
- Using multiple search engines to find job postings, only to find that the same jobs are posted in multiple places
- Spending an hour or two just to apply for one position
- Filling out job applications that will receive either no response from the company or an automated, computer-generated response not sent by a person
- Becoming frustrated at putting in a lot of time and effort into the process, only to see no results
These feelings are normal when you're unemployed. It is crucial to channel some energy into something fun that you enjoy doing. Be sure to devote some time to a hobby that brings you pleasure.