5 Ways to Financially Survive when Unemployed

Facing unemployment is a scary thing that most Americans will face at least once in their lives.

The important thing is being able to financially survive until you can find another source of employment. With a little know-how, you’ll be ok.

Here are 5 real ways to financially survive unemployment:

1. Create a Realistic Budget

You’re unemployed. Now is the time to be honest with your finances and buckle down to frugality. The first thing you’ll need to do is establish how long your savings will last.

There are plenty of free financial apps and websites that can help you create a budget. They’ll even send you automated reminders and alerts to help you stick to your budget, but the real effort is going to have to come from you!

Try Mint. It’s free and you can categorize and track your spending.

You’ll have to cut all your extra expenses, of course. Look at your last bank statement, and assess what will have to go.

budget cut costsNo more cable, lattes, or trips to the vending machine- cut out all those little unnecessary expenses that add up.

Grocery shop a little more carefully, and find any and every way to spend less money on the basics.

Be thorough, cover all your bases, and be ruthless with your budgeting. The longer you can make your money last, the less stressful financially surviving while unemployed will be!

2. File for Unemployment (if applicable)

You may not be eligible for unemployment benefits, or it may just be a better option for you to skip this step and start seeking a new job.

Filing for unemployment isn’t for everyone, but it’s always better to know a bit more about all your possibilities before fully ruling any option out.

The steps you’d go through to file for unemployment vary by state. So do some digging to see if you meet your state’s requirements, and what documents you’ll need.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need some basic information handy, such as…

  • Your Social Security card
  • Your driver’s license
  • The name, address, and phone number of your last employer
  • The date you last started work
  • Your Employer’s Federal ID Number (typically found on your paystub or old work documents)
  • Listing your total earnings over the past year

Have all these documents on hand to speed the process up. Some states require you to file at their unemployment offices, while some allow you to file online or over the phone.

Once you’ve filed your unemployment claim, the state will review your case and decide if you’re eligible, and how much money you’d be eligible for.

The amount that you’d be paid each week will decrease over time.

The purpose of unemployment benefits is to help you get through the next few months until you can work again, so it’s not a good idea to get too comfortable.

Particularly since you typically have to file for unemployment each week following, and most states require some proof that you’re actively looking for employment.

So if you’re eligible and start receiving unemployment benefits, be sure to always be seeking a job during that time.

3. Secure Health Insurance

If you lost your health insurance along with your job, you may want to get covered.

This is especially crucial if you have a family that was on the plan you had with your job.

Insurance may seem like a luxury that you can’t afford right now, but your bank account will be glad you have it if something bad should happen.

If your kid breaks their arm and you have to go to the E.R. without any health insurance, your carefully-budgeted unemployment period is busted.

If you get sick and have to take a few days off from seeking a job, you’re going to want some health insurance to afford your medicine and get back to the job hunt.

Your two best options for securing health insurance while unemployed are going to be COBRA or U.S. federally subsidized health care (likely Medicaid).

COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) helps the unemployed keep the insurance they had with their previous employer.

This might be the better option for you if you happened to have a really good healthcare plan through your job, or if you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage for your family.

However, it can be pretty expensive. It varies. But it usually offers better coverage.

The cheaper option is available to the unemployed thanks to the Affordable Care Act on HealthCare.gov. What you’re eligible for will vary, of course, as will the amount of money you’d receive. But it’s a good option to keep you covered while you find a job.

Getting health insurance may not be a real need for you. But it could potentially keep you for having to pay for health expenses out of pocket if the need does arise.

Or you could cross your fingers that you won’t get sick for a while.

4. Set a Schedule

Along with sticking to a budget, adhering to a daily schedule will help make unemployment more manageable. A set schedule will not only help improve your job search, it’ll also keep your mental state in a good place.

Maintaining a sense of structure will be crucial to keep you from sinking into the apathetic sense of self-pity that can be an easy trap for us all to fall into without our sense of purpose and routine.

  • 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Wake up, shower, eat breakfast, get ready for the day.
  • 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Search for jobs, revamp your resume.
  • 12 p.m.-12:30 p.m. Lunch break
  • 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Submit applications, send emails, write/send cover letters, etc.

Besides your new daily “work” routine (hey… finding a job is a full-time endeavor and a lot of work!) you might want to set a more long term schedule.

Submit 20 job applications in the next week. Attend a job fair or unemployment help session twice a month.

That kind of thing.

Don’t tell yourself things like, “I’m going to land a job by next week.” That’ll only lead to frustration and unreasonable expectations for yourself.

Make sure you’re eating healthily, getting enough sleep, and exercising. A negative mindset will drag you down and hold you there.

Unemployment sucks, but preventing yourself from wallowing will make all the difference in your mission for employment and financial survival.

It sounds stupid, but it’s not: never underestimate a positive, goal-oriented attitude.

5. Get to Work

Finding a job is your main focus. But besides your constant job search, you should also start planning for your financial survival until you’ve scored that job.

There are resources and tips to help you financially survive unemployment and many others who have successfully managed their periods of unemployment, but you have to take the initiative. Finding yourself needing cash assistance while unemployed is frightening, depressing, and often overwhelming.

But taking it a day at a time, and organizing and rallying yourself will honestly help you find a job faster and curb the anxiety.

As you’re well aware, financially surviving unemployment won’t be a bundle of fun and rainbows, so prepare yourself as best you can.

Look for new, temporary ways to bring in some cash: start a business, sell homemade crafts from home, do some temp work for friends and contacts, and ask for some leniency from landlords and service providers.

The sooner you can find a job, the sooner you can stop worrying about your financial survival, and start financially thriving again.

Even if it’s lowing-paying and temporary gig until you can find something better. The important thing is to not get discouraged!

Unemployment is frustrating.

A lot of time is spent applying, waiting, and repeating. But stick to a practical plan, keep at it, and hang in there; you’ll be back on your feet in no time, a proud financial survivor of unemployment!