8 Financial Tips for the Unemployed or Underemployed

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Since I’m currently unemployed myself after a layoff earlier this year, Susan’s guest post struck a chord. Please welcome Susan and share you thoughts in the comments below! Take it away, Susan!

Not having a job, or having a job with few hours and low pay, is frustrating.

You get more time to yourself, sure, but it’s hard to stay afloat when your finances strain or unexpected expenses show up. If you’re unemployed, you may see your savings dry up. If you’re underemployed, they may have never been there in the first place.

The bottom line is that you need more stability. Here are some ways to reduce the amount of money spent while you’re looking for more work.

1. File for Unemployment

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to file for unemployment if they’ve recently lost their job. You’ve spent plenty of tax dollars at your job giving to the system, so why not let the system give back?

There’s nothing wrong with an unemployment check as long as you’re putting in the effort to find another job. Depending on your state, the method and circumstances needed to file for unemployment will differ.

Sometimes, you can do it online. Other times, it may require a trip to the unemployment office. Do some research on your state and see what you have to do to file for unemployment.

2. Never Eat Food You Didn’t Cook

Fast food and some takeout is associated with being cheap, but it’s really not. It’s much cheaper to cook your own meals at home than it is to get a burger and fries at some fast food restaurant. Plus, it’s usually the healthier option.

Unemployment can be a good opportunity for you to catch up on your cooking. If there is a warehouse store nearby such as Sam’s Club or Costco, you can buy food in bulk and save more, provided you can afford to make the investment.

If cooking is too time-consuming, try a slow cooker. They’re affordable and can help cook your food all day while you go out and spend your time doing something more productive. Cooking isn’t difficult, and if your diet has been takeout or microwavable dinners, this may be a good opportunity to try some home cooking.

You’ll be glad you did.

3. Think About Other Methods of Transportation

If you own a vehicle, try using it less. Even if you’re just driving around town, the gas expenses can add up. If there’s an option for public transportation, try that. Or look into getting a bike.

These options may not be feasible depending on where you live, but if it is possible, it’s worth looking into.

4. Do Freelance Work

If you have a part-time job, you may think about taking on another job. That can be a good thing, but a swamped schedule can end up being frustrating. Try supplementing your income with some freelance work.

If you have certain skills, such as writing, programming, design, or really anything you can do remotely, the jobs are out there. Look for specific sites dedicated to whatever particular freelance work you want to do.

Who knows? If you’re good enough, you can turn it into a full-time experience that will provide you with more freedom than you had in your previous jobs.

5. Budget and Remove Unneeded Expenses

If you haven’t tried a budget calculator yet, you should give it a shot. Think about all your expenses. Is there anything you spend money on that you can cut back or eliminate altogether? Do you really need that cable TV when you can watch shows on the internet? Do you find yourself going out for coffee every now and then when you could be making it at home?

Budgeting is one of those common-sense solutions that people forget about, but they shouldn’t.

Budget, and you’ll be surprised how much you can save.

6. Cut Out Those Credit Cards

You may think it’s wise to put your expenses on a credit card. After all, accumulating credit is a good thing as long as you pay it off, right?

Building credit is great, and you should do it if you’re able. But getting into debt while you’re struggling financially is awful. You might think you’ll have a new or better job soon to pay it off, but that may not happen right away. It’s best to budget money you already own, and go back to using credit when you’re more financially stable.

Otherwise you could end up in debt, owing even more as your credit score dips.

7. Search for Jobs Locally

There are a ton of tools on the internet to help you find a job. The problem is that many job sites and resources can get over-saturated with job seekers.

That’s why you should remember the community around you. The jobs may be out there. Check your local job boards and see what they have to offer. Usually, the competition is lower than large aggregator sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, so your application is less likely to get lost in the shuffle.

8. Always Keep Improving

Unemployment, or underemployment, is a challenge most will face once in their lives. The key to surviving is to remain level-headed, think about your expenses, and focus on your long-term goals.

By following these instructions, you should be able to steadily improve your financial situation. Hopefully you can move into your next job debt-free, and with better habits than you had before.

Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.

4 COMMENTS

  1. to me all 8 points boil down to one advice – adjust and accommodate to the situation you are in. just like business strategy has to be shifted in changing economic times, personal strategy is no different. . . and you can apply that same logic for pretty much anything else

  2. We have an emergency budget in place that would let us cut our cash outflow by 25-30% if the worst should happen. We find having this emergency budget to be a great stress reliever (similar to have an emergency fund).

    Another thing to consider is using government or community programs. Things like food banks are available for situations like this where it’s had to make ends meet.

    • Definitely down with the assistance programs. It’s amazing the amount of assistance available to the unemployed, be it utilities, food, medical insurance, or even mortgage payments. I’ve an article in the works hitting some of the highlights.

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