The thought of losing a job is scary—especially if you haven’t attained financial independence. Not only do you have to figure out how to live without a job, but there’s the added stress of having to find a new one. Even if you have a dual-income household, the loss of one income can be stressful. Though it can be daunting navigating unemployment, it is possible. Here are some tips for managing your money in between jobs.
1. Reduce your living expenses as you plan out how to live without a job
The first thing you should do when it comes to how to live without a job is to reduce your living expenses. This includes what you spend on housing, food, and other living essentials. These costs usually take up most of your income, so reducing them will help your money go much further.
Get rid of non-essential spending
Many times we include things in our budget that we don’t actually need. These are luxuries that we treat ourselves to, but aren’t necessary for survival. So when you’re looking for things to cut, start with your non-essential items.
Some non-essential items to consider eliminating include:
- Subscription services
- Dining out
- Nail & hair appointments
The great thing is that you can always go back to splurging on these things once you’ve established yourself in a new job. Or, you may find that you actually don’t want to incorporate them back into your spending.
Save on groceries
Food is another big expense that can cause stress when your finances are tight. Of course, you need to eat, but you may have to change what you’re eating and where you’re getting it from. Here are a few simple ways that you can reduce your food spend.
Meal planning is when you create a menu for what you’ll eat for the week. This allows you to shop specifically for those ingredients, while not wasting money on others that you don’t need. Having a meal plan is like having a budget for your food.
When you meal prep, you prepare all of your meals ahead of time. This not only allows you to save time, but you save money by not buying fast food or dining out. Meal prep helps eliminate the need to buy extra food because it’s already available. Check out these awesome frugal meal ideas.
If you haven’t used coupons for your groceries before, now is the time. You can find these online or in your grocery store’s weekly ads. Saving a few dollars can go a long way.
Reduce utility costs
Your utilities include the cost of electricity, water, gas, and more. These costs typically fluctuate throughout the year based on the season and are determined by usage. Do your part to reduce costs by monitoring your usage.
Simple things like turning off lights when they’re not in use, not idly running the water, and even turning off your heating or air conditioning while you’re away make a difference. Implement these small changes to help reduce your monthly costs.
Get a roommate
The easiest way to reduce your living expenses is by cutting them in half. You can do this by getting a roommate. A roommate can help share some of the expenses so that you can save your money while finding a new job.
2. Contact your lenders and creditors
Without a job, the priority is to make sure you have your essentials covered. This means that any other expense, including debt, should be reduced, eliminated, or deferred. As you navigate how to live without a job, you can always contact your lenders and creditors to work out payment arrangements. Here are some specific things you can do if you are unable to pay your bills.
Ask to defer payments or do a hardship plan
Your lenders can make arrangements to defer payments of your debt due to a job loss. This means that your payments will be paused and resumed at a later date. This can be a great help if you are figuring out how to live without a job. This could apply to credit card debt, mortgages, student loans, car loans, etc.
Ask for a reduced minimum payment
You may also ask to have your minimum monthly payment reduced. Though this may mean that the length of your debt repayment is extended, it can temporarily relieve you of some expenses.
Ask to reduce or temporarily remove interest
The interest on loans makes the payments significantly more than what the original loan amount was for. Lenders can also reduce or temporarily remove your interest so that you don’t accrue more debt and have a smaller payment.
3. See what benefits you qualify for to help you plan out how to live without a job
You may be able to qualify for some benefits that can assist you with income as you plan out how to live without a job. Most governments and community organizations have assistance programs in place to help in these situations.
Ask if you will receive severance (if not communicated)
Before leaving your employer, it is important to know if you will be receiving a severance package. A severance package is a financial payment and other benefits extended to an employee that has been laid off. The amount is usually based on your time with the company and not all employers provide it. Check with your human resources department to find out if you will receive this benefit.
Apply for unemployment benefits
If you have been laid off from your job at no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Each state has different requirements; however, the premise is that you will receive a percentage of your former salary as you look for a new job.
Consider government assistance programs
If you find that you’re still unable to cover your basic life necessities, the US government has assistance programs to help you. Specifically, there is the food assistance program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program provides financial assistance to help you pay for food for you and your family. Each state has different requirements to apply and to determine your eligibility. You can find out more on the SNAP website.
There are also several rent assistance programs that could be helpful if you are struggling to keep up with paying your rent.
Consider continuing health coverage
It’s likely that your health insurance coverage was provided by your previous employer. This means that once you became unemployed, you also lost your health insurance coverage. For these situations, you can leverage COBRA.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you and your family to remain on your employer-sponsored health plan for a limited time after your employment status has changed. With COBRA you will be required to pay the monthly premium that was subsidized by your employer. However, this is typically much cheaper than you would pay for open market coverage. having this in place can really help when it comes to how to survive without a job.
5. Find ways to make side income
While you’re looking for your next job, supplementing your income will be crucial. Even with taking all of the steps to reduce expenses and get assistance, you still want to bring in consistent income. Here are some ways to make money without a job.
Pick up a side gig
Having a side hustle or gig is nothing unusual in this day and age. Those with full-time jobs sometimes find it necessary to pick up additional work on the side to make ends meet. These flexible gigs are great for extra money, especially if you’re in between jobs. Even if the income from your side gig is lower, it's still worthwhile because it brings in something.
Some common gig jobs include:
There are a ton of things that you can do online and in-person to make some extra money. In fact, we even have a book dedicated to helping you build your side hustle. Find something that compliments your skills and available resources and start making extra cash!
Sell unused items in your house
A simpler way to make some extra cash is to sell unused items in your house. Sites like Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, and Mercari allow you to sell these goods online. No need for a yard sale when you can simply post your listings on any of these sites. Of course, if you want quick cash, then having a yard sale is always still a good option.
Airbnb additional space in home
If you have extra space in your home, consider Airbnb. You can temporarily rent out your space to travelers to help subsidize your expenses as you figure out how to live without a job. It’s important to be cautious when considering this as an option. Nonetheless, Airbnb has proven to be a viable option when it comes to making additional income.
Final thoughts on how to live without a job
There are many things that you can do to lessen the financial burden of a job loss. Consider each of these tips and utilize them. While you’re at it, don’t forget things like sprucing up your resume, learning new skills, and networking to help you find a new job quickly. You can always join our free community to get help and support as you navigate your transition. Remember, when it comes to how to survive without a job, you can totally weather through it.