What to Do When Unemployment Runs Out
Since the 2008 economic downturn, millions of Americans have been left unemployed, with some relying exclusively on unemployment compensation benefits (checks) from the government as a means of survival.
Not only are unemployment checks meager and difficult for many to survive on (the average check is just $300 a week) but in most states these checks run out after 26 weeks. After you apply for unemployment benefits, a six month window to find employment may seem generous, but in these challenging economic times, it’s not uncommon for unemployed people to take over a year (in some cases several years) to find stable employment again.
As a result, running out of unemployment checks before landing a new job is the grim and terrifying reality that millions of Americans now face.
However, if you find yourself in this tough situation, there may be some ways you can keep a roof over your head and even generate some extra income before you land full-time employment again. To remain financially afloat after unemployment runs out, try pursuing the following tactics:
Prepare a Survival Budget
Now that times have really gotten hard, you’re going to need to budget more tightly than you’ve probably ever had to do so before. Perhaps there were some luxuries you could still manage to pay for while you were living off government checks, but now that they’ve run dry you’re going to need to say goodbye to these and welcome an extra frugal lifestyle. For best results, create a weekly survival list that covers all of your basic living needs but fits into your new budget, then make sure to stick to it. If you are still in decent financial standing, earning an income or receiving unemployment benefits, but still in danger of unemployment running out, then make sure to start stashing some of your money aside in case you don’t find a job in time.
Apply for Anything and Everything
Losing unemployment benefits should signal that you need to seriously change your job-hunting strategy. When your government checks have completely run dry, it’s time to stop being choosy about which jobs you apply to. Perhaps you had a high flying, well paying job in the past, but those days are gone. Apply to absolutely everything and anything that you can, including minimum wage jobs. Yes, this might mean you have to earn only a smidgen compared to your previous salary, but if it means you’re able to pays the bills and make ends meet, then this sacrifice will be well worth it.
Use Food Stamps
The idea of applying for and using food stamps may seem humiliating, but if unemployment runs out, this may be your very last resort. If you pass specific requirements, you may qualify for food stamps which are certificates that provide you with free food. Each state has certain requirements and levels of poverty that must be met in order to qualify for food stamps, so you will need to check with your particular state of residence to see if you can receive food stamp assistance.
Downsize Your Lifestyle
Its one thing to make a budget to maintain your existing lifestyle, but you may need to go one step further by completely downsizing your life. This may mean you have to change where you live. If you’re a homeowner you may want to sell or rent out your house. If you’re renting, try to look for more affordable housing by moving to a new area or even considering renting out one of your rooms to a tenant. These are drastic actions, but they could potentially save you a fortune.
Move in With Family or Friends
If you can no longer afford to pay for your mortgage or rent and don’t want to be forced into a homeless shelter, your main other option is to seek a free living arrangement with a family member or friend. Your parents, close relatives or friends may be willing to help, even if this means you’ll have to sleep on their couch until you can get better situated. Free rent will lift a huge financial burden off of your shoulders, and allow you to continue in your job search without having to constantly worry how you’ll make rent or your mortgage payment that month.
Offer to Do Cash in Hand Jobs
Prior to landing a permanent position, offer to do cash in hand odd jobs for your neighbors, family members and friends. Perhaps you could mow their lawn or walk their dogs. If you have specific academic skills you could also advertise yourself as a tutor or even consider doing some babysitting. When the government checks run dry, even small amounts of cash can help you avoid complete financial disaster.
Consider Taking Out a Loan
As an unemployed individual, you’re probably not going to get approved for a regular bank loan. Banks don’t like to take chances on financially unstable borrowers, and this of course includes the unemployed. Despite this, there are some other loaning options you may want to consider. For example, some car title loan companies don’t check your employment status or even require you to undergo a credit check, so if you’re confident that you’ll soon be able to land a job and make repayments on time, definitely consider a car title loan. Title loans are issued based on your ability to repay the loan.
Sell Your Stuff
Don’t let expensive items you own go to waste, but instead sell those that you can get away with. If you own more than one television or computer, definitely consider selling one of them. Get rid of expensive camera gear, designer clothes, jewelry or any other luxury goods that you don’t actually need. It may be sad to see items you once worked hard to attain get sold, but the money you’ll earn could cover essentials such as groceries and bills.
Living Unemployed without Benefits
There’s no way of getting around it, surviving without unemployment benefits when you’re still unemployed is going to be incredibly tough – it may even seem impossible at times. However, use the above tips to help you maximize your savings as you continue in your job search. Stay strong and persevere, good luck!