The US job market is slowly beginning to turn around, but there are still millions of people unemployed. And these are not short losses of income between jobs, but prolonged battles with the job market. According to a New York Times story reporting on a Labor Department study, the average person on unemployment is currently spending around 40 weeks without work. That’s a heck of a long time
to simply tighten a belt and keep a stiff upper lip. Hunting for a job month after month is a painful, frustrating enterprise, and it’s incredibly difficult for a family on a budget to swallow. While there are no perfect solutions for this situation, there are some strategies you can utilize to keep your family afloat
while you wait for the right opportunity to come around. Here’s a look at a couple of ways to make ends meet while you’re unemployed.
File for unemployment benefits. Most people who previously had a full time job can register for unemployment and receive some sort of government assistance. Even if you’ve been out of work for a while, it’s worth looking into what sort of benefits are available. The rules for unemployment compensation differ state-by-state, so check with your local unemployment office to find out how to apply. Unemployment benefits are generally only available to you for a certain amount of time, and you won’t receive money equal to what you were making at your previous position. In fact, the national average for weekly unemployment compensation is $270, so chances are it will still be a lot less than you are used to bringing home. However, that money could make the difference between going bankrupt or squeaking by, so filing for benefits is the first thing you should do.
Consider other ways to generate income. You’ve done your share of buying when things were good, so now it’s time to think about selling. Most Americans will find they have basements, garages, attics and storage spaces packed with things they don’t need. Remember, if you haven’t used it in six months, you probably never will. Start thinking of these storage spaces as a potential revenue stream. Assess what is there that could be sold, and start selling on Ebay or Craigslist. You may not get back exactly what you paid for these things, but your unnecessary items will find a happy home, and the extra cash could be enough to get you through.
Get creative with budgeting. Even with unemployment benefits, you’ll still be down some income. That’s where budgeting comes in. Although unemployment is by no means fun, it is an opportunity to get in touch with your family’s monthly budget, and to get creative with how you trim back. Take the time to look at the difference between what you want for your family, and what your family actually needs to get by. All the ‘stuff’ available in our modern society doesn’t actually make people any happier, so living a more simple existence may bring you unexpected rewards. And there’s always ways to save. Maybe buy cheap checks online the next time you need a refill, as opposed to paying extra for some designer checkbook, for example. Working out a budget and sticking to it during these troubling times will also help you in the long run. Your employment situation is bound to turn around, but the experience you gain
budgeting will be useful for the rest of your life.