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Surviving Unemployment: A guide for the stay-at-home mom.

Updated on June 6, 2013

When my children were very young (toddler and newborn) we went through a period of unemployment for 1 1/2 years. These tips are gleaned from our personal experiences during that time.

1. Make radical spending cuts. Consider the following possibilities if they apply to you:

  • Cancel cable television
  • Cancel cell phones, or cut back services.
  • Consider lowering internet speed or going to a very basic plan, if you choose to keep your internet connection.
  • Stop buying everything except absolute necessities.
  • Get creative with your gift giving. You can often come up with gifts that cost little or nothing. We gave our young children hand-me-down toys and clothing as gifts for Christmas and birthdays. We also found that hand-made crafts and food gifts such as bread or baked goods made great gifts.

2. Sell your 2nd car.

We became a one car family. This saved us money on gas, insurance and repairs. It was an adjustment, but the money savings were worth it. Plus, we had extra cash on hand from the sale of the car.

3. Forbear loans.

  • If you own your own house, contact your lending agency. We were able to put our home into forbearance. However, be aware that this can affect your credit score, and make sure you understand all the details before signing paperwork.
  • You can get forbearance on student loans as well.

4. Make every effort to save money on utilities.

Take extra care to minimize water, electric and gas use. Depending on the season, turn your thermostat up or down to save costs.

5. Make your own laundry soap & household cleaners.

This recipe became a staple during unemployment, and I continue to use it, because I save so much money. For our family of 4, I make a batch of soap that lasts 6 months and the ingredients cost close to $20.00. There are many recipes online for other household cleaners that can also help you save money.

6. Take any sort of job you can.

It all helps. Don't be too proud to do any sort of work. My husband did tutoring, census work, and yard work. All of these combined to help pay for necessary expenses such as utilities. I made a little extra money crocheting hats and selling them. Childcare, pet-sitting, house-sitting are also ideas. Take and inventory of your skills and let people in your circles know that you are willing to work.

7. Make use of local food truck, food commodities, pantries, etc. in your area.

Often there are many resources such as these available in your community. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Someday you can give back! During the time of our unemployment, our church started a non-food pantry to help our family and others in our church who were unemployed at that time. We were blessed with many essentials such toilet paper, tooth brushes, soap, and more. It was a tremendous help for our family.

8. Utilize free or low-cost medical and dental clinics.

When necessary, these clinics can be very helpful. Our children were on Medicaid, so they were covered. My husband and I purchased major medical insurance for ourselves in lieu of expensive COBRA insurance. These low cost clinics were useful for sick visits and prescribed medications that were not covered by major medical insurance. With Obamacare, things are in a flux, so there may be other options now available.

9. Let your local library provide your entertainment.

Local libraries are a wealth of helpful resources, not to mention endless hours of entertainment. In addition to books, you can rent DVDs and CDs. Most libraries offer story times and games for children of all ages. If you choose to give up your internet connection, most libraries have computers available for your use.

10. Government Assistance

If you are in the United States, you can apply for food stamps. There may be a small waiting period, but go ahead and get the paper work or fill out an online application the best you can so you are ready to submit your information. You can usually apply for Medicaid for your children at the same time. Note: We chose to not apply for cash assistance due to work rules in our state that would have not allowed me to stay home with our very young children. Your situation may be different.


One more note....

With diligence and careful planning, it is possible to remain at home with your children during unemployment. I would be imprudent if I did not mention that during this time we were blessed with the generosity of family, church family and kind friends. It was humbling,as we saw how God can provide for us in ways we never knew before. I want to add a word of encouragement to seek God's help in prayer and watch what He will do!

What about you? Have you gone through unemployment? Do have any great money-saving tips to add? Please share in the comments below.

© 2013 Karen Fritzemeier


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    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      Thank you Seafarer Mama for your kind words. Having a garden really helps during these times and saves so much money, plus it's fun for the whole family to be involved. Really helps in these tough times, but fun to pursue at any time in life! :)

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      7 years ago from New England

      Awesome hub of hope for people who have had their incomes "downsized" by this economy. Prayer helps keep one hopeful. Faith, hope, and love are truly the anchors that help us through the storms of our lives. On top of that, you offer very sensible ways to cope.

      My family is blessed to be able to grow our own in the summer. From May until October or November, I am cooking with fresh food from our gardens, harvested with a very grateful heart...and freezing some, too. Yum! That alone is very humbling.

    • kulewriter profile image

      Ronald Joseph Kule 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Karenfritz, bartering works well in the current economy.

    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      Kulewriter, yes, bartering! We did this with a couple with our church, exchanging child care for date nights occasionally. For our date nights we'd pack our own food and go to a picnic in a park. (Free night out!)

    • kulewriter profile image

      Ronald Joseph Kule 

      7 years ago from Florida

      CraftytotheCore reminded me about my wife's side of the no-job bargain we found ourselves in. She found the Dollar store, too. She works her magic at the different food stores and trades gardening and landscaping with friends in exchange for household chores that we need. We've made new friends that way; people who are experiencing similar circumstances, so we pool our thinking of solutions and share resources whenever we can.

    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      You are welcome Moiracrochets. I hope you'll be able to be back with your daughters soon.

    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      CraftytotheCore, Those are some great tips and thank you for sharing! I do the same the same thing with chicken. Love it when the whole chickens are on sale---saves a ton of money! We also gave up our wholesale club membership---I noticed that they kept their prices the same while packaging was shrinking. :( I learned to shop by unit pricing when my hubby was unemployed.

    • MoiraCrochets profile image

      Moira Durano-Abesmo 

      7 years ago from Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines

      Thank you for sharing this. I wished I read it before I signed up for work and leave my daughters at home.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      7 years ago

      I was never so happy to see a dollar store move in to my town! I save a lot of money shopping there every week. I no longer shop at a wholesale club (they charge an annual membership). I started paying for groceries in cash. If I didn't have enough money for it, I didn't have to have it. I shop weekly sales at 2 or 3 stores in town instead of paying more at one store (for the convenience of only going to one store). I also buy whole chickens on sale and plan 2-3 meals out of them for my family. (Baked chicken, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, chicken & dumplings.) I went without a car with 2 babies for years until I saved up a couple thousand and got a junk van. But at least it's paid for. Best of luck to you! It's an extremely difficult time for a lot of people. I love sharing tips with others. Together we can get through this easier, then walking it alone.

    • djynna profile image


      7 years ago from Mtl., QC

      Very good tips... thank you for sharing!

      Right now, we're struggling financially, as my husband is disable for about three years now. I always cried, and ask question to myself, how can we survive? I decided to go back to school and get some loans and bursaries so we can pay the rent.

    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      kulewriter, That is an inspiring story! It is so humbling, but on the other side we look back and see there were so many good life lessons from it, especially about priorities. We also feel like we are still "recovering"---it takes years! We are still a one car family at this point as well, but it saves us tons of money. :)

    • kulewriter profile image

      Ronald Joseph Kule 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Good stuff. we found ourselves in 2009 without either of us having a solid position, like overnight! With no Reserves in the bank, it was scary.

      First -- this will likely read like your suggestions, we unloaded the 2nd car. Krikee! We found we could survive that; we even, after some time had passed, questioned why we ever even had leased two cars anyway.

      Next, we found food money by putting up stands on empty corners and we sold packages of bed sheets to passersby who stopped when they read the signs we were holding. On a good day, we earned enough for a week's worth of groceries. It was freezing cold outside at the time, but we bundled up, kept moving in one spot and bought hot chocolates to stay warm whenever we could afford it at the nearby McDonald's.

      The integrity we experienced after we di this and could move on to something inside, earning our way bit by bit, far outweighed the life we had built on credit cards and spending like the Jones's. We found also that we really could make do with a lot less than we had thought we needed, and that the old tapes, which were now "free" to re-watch, were actually interesting to watch again.

      Best of all, we, as husband and wife, regained a closeness with each other that we had let slip without our noticing. Today, in 2013, we're not out of the woods yet, but we see hope on the horizon, and it is not too far off.

    • MISEL profile image

      Arto Laakso 

      7 years ago from Oulu, Finland

      Generally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great post.

    • karenfritz profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Fritzemeier 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for reading! So many people are going through this.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Karen, excellent and practical tips for surviving when unemployed. Most of these can also be applied to all of our lives as we seek to live wisely and create a savings for emergencies.

      I love that your Church and friends were there for you. You were blessed indeed.

      Once again I commend you for a clearly written hub chock full of great advise.

      Voted Up +++



    • angryelf profile image


      8 years ago from Tennessee

      These are great ideas, especially with the current state of economies across the world. Many people are having to deal with unemployment; it's a trying time for all.


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