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Posted under: Opinion

5 Ways To Budget And Save Your Money While Unemployed

Every dollar counts

Many people experience periods in their life where they are laid off from their job and/or looking for employment. Statistics from this past October show that the unemployment rate is 4.1 percent according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although this rate is pretty low compared to what we’ve been used to over the past years, there are many people out there still looking for jobs.

Many people hate going through this, but there are changes that have to be made to help you survive and live off what you have saved up to accommodate your temporary lifestyle while looking for employment.

One struggle people deal with during this whole process is learning how to save and budget their money. Sound familiar?

Below are 5 ways to financially survive while unemployed:

1. Cutting unnecessary wants and non-essentials from your budget

One way to save your money is separating your wants from your needs. Eating out, getting your nails done, and even shopping are all wants.  Factoring your wants out of your budget can save you a couple of hundred dollars that you can use towards your bills. Instead of eating out, cook at home. Make meals that can last you a couple of days to make the most out of what you buy from the grocery store.  The money you spend eating out on one meal can be used towards groceries that last you much longer. I know it may be hard, but changing your habits will definitely help you in the long run and will really show you how much money you were frivolously spending anyway

2. Make a Spending Plan

Electricity, rent, and food are guaranteed bills you will have to pay each month. Take the time at the beginning of the month to estimate how much you pay for each bill. Rent is constant, but lights and food may fluctuate every month, so make sure you include a range that is realistic in case you fall short. One piece of advice that seems to work across the board, regardless of income: try not to spend over $100 each month towards groceries (per person if you live with roommates).

3. Take advantage of unemployment resources

Being unemployed is a very humbling experience. Even though you may not want to take advantage of these resources because you may feel some type of way or you think it says something about your character (which it doesn’t), they’re there specifically to help you make ends meet during these exact circumstances. See if you can take full advantage of what is available to you. Go to your local unemployment office and apply for unemployment. You can also apply for food stamps. The money saved in these areas can be used for other important expenses.

4. Engage in free activities

While you're not out applying for jobs, take advantage of free activities in your city.  Don’t think in order for you to go out and have a good time you have to spend money.  Go visit your local museum, go to the park, or even volunteer. Your life doesn’t stop because you're unemployed. Enjoy this free time while you can and get some much needed time to center yourself and decide what you want your life to look like in this next phase

5. Earn extra cash

Make a couple of hundred dollars by getting a part-time job in retail or working at a restaurant. Take advantage of freelance opportunities like photography or writing. You can also make some cash by house sitting, walking your neighbor’s dogs, or even babysitting. Every dollar counts, so make sure to exhaust all options.

While cutting back, just keep in the back of your mind that this is only temporary.  With drive and perseverance, your unemployment phase will not last too long. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your wants to get where you need to be. Try to stay positive as much as you can during this period of time and surround yourself with people who will support you as you go through the ups and downs (because those will come).

Brianna Rhodes is the branded content writer for Blavity. Feel free to contact her at brianna@blavity.com