Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: How to Survive When You are Unemployed...

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Survive When You are Unemployed...

How to Survive When You are Unemployed...

Today's topic has been on my heart a lot over the past few days. It started when I was meeting with a sister in my ward. We were talking about budgeting and I was sharing a few tips to help her family make it through the hard time they were going through. This sister had recently experienced a loss of income and was struggling. She needed a few suggestions on how her family could make it through this lean time, until employment was plentiful again. As we talked and discussed different options, I came to the realization that this is a similar question many of you have asked me, that I do't think I have really addresses here on the blog. Well today is the day. Today I am sharing the tips and tricks that I share with countless people who I coach on budgeting. These are also the very same tips my family used when my husband was recently out of work. For those of you that don't know, Hubby had been out of work for almost a year. That's a long time people. He was searching and searching for a job, but could not find one in the field he was looking. Months later (11 months to be exact) he found an entry level position in computers. We feel so blessed that he now has an income and has an the opportunity to work his way up in the field he is passionate about. I hope that these tips will you all, on whatever journey you are on. Know that no problem is too big. You can make marvelous things happen in your life. All you need is a lot of determination, a little bit of patience, and faith in the Lord. These three make up a dynamic trio that can get you through any obstacle that has been placed before you.

Make a Plan- Once you know that your income is changing, make a plan. Think about things you can do right now to help you in the weeks or months to come. Talk as a family. Discuss some of the changes that will happen and what you can all do to make the transition to unemployed a little smoother. We all pray it will be a short period of time, but in reality it could be longer. Having a plan will help you along your way.

Go Back to the Basics- When Hubby no longer had a job, we had to go back to the basics. We keep to a "need to pay bills" budget. We kept it simple, because that is what our current income allowed. We ate out of the food storage we had built while money was good. Doing this allowed us to go a lot longer before needing to ask for state assistance on food.

Be creative. Try to see what things you can do to stretch your budget further. Can you mend old clothes, so you don't need to purchase new ones? Can you shop at a thrift store when the kids need new pants? These are things that will help you reduce costs and stick to the basics.

Cut the Fat- When Hubby decided to leave his job in law enforcement, we knew that we would have quite a road ahead of him. He was leaving his current field of work and was moving to a completely different that he hadn't done in a long time. He had done computers in the military, but it had been a long time since that had happened. When we received that pay cut, we cut as much fat as we could from our budget. We would only be living on a small income I make from this blog and writing, so a lot had to be cut. The first thing we did was cut the extra curricular activities we had the kids in. We knew we wouldn't be able to afford them. Instead we were able to join a great co-op for homeschool and the kids are happier than ever. We also used some of our savings to pay off my sons braces. Paying off those braces cut $120 from our monthly budget.

When you experience any loss of income, try to cut those extras as soon as possible. By doing that you will allow yourself to save the money you do have and not push yourself further towards debt. Look at your cell phone planes and insurance plans. Find out if there are ways to reduce those bills. By cutting that fat, you will be able to survive on much less.

Also when you are experiencing a loss of income all those extra things we love to do (that costs money), need to stop. If you don't have enough for eating out (meaning it doesn't fit into the budget) don't do it. Just because it is something you always did as a family, doesn't mean you should continue it when you can't afford it. Find alternatives to that night out as a family. Have a game night at home and make pizza instead of ordering in:) Don't like cooking? Try snagging some Red Barron pizzas from Wal-Mart. They sell them for under $3. Perfect for feeding a family on a tight budget.

Be Smart- If you have a nest egg saved up, use it wisely. Because my family in general lives frugally, we had quite a savings build up when hubby was no longer employed. We budgeted that savings to cover any expenses not covered in my monthly income from writing. It is always important to look ahead. Think about bills that are coming up, the car registration that is due, or those taxes you have to pay (if you own your home). Bills can sneak up, so pay attention and use the money you do have wisely.

Ask For Help if You Need It- This is one tip I always stress with the people I help.We will all have times in our lives when we are tight on money. It happens. Some may find their lean season is a short one, while others may find that it feels like it will never end. If you are having trouble making ends meet, seek out help. A lot of churches have programs set up to help others learn how to make their budget work for their family. There are also food banks, SNAP (welfare), etc that are there to help you get back on your feet. There is no shame in asking for help. I have meet far too many families who needed help, but were too embarrassed to apply for food stamps or ask church members/friends for help. Don't be. We have all had times where we are down on our luck. Reach out to the programs in your neighborhood. Also if you are having a hard time providing food for your family, go to a food bank. That is what they are there for.

If you've been laid off, quit, or have been fired, you might be eligible for unemployment. You can file for it if you meet certain state-specific requirements. Go onto your states website and see if you are eligible.

Also reach out to friends and family. Network and see if anyone knows of any job openings. Putting the word out there that you in search of a job will hopefully bring more opportunities your way.

Rework Your Resume- When you are actively looking for work, update your resume. Check the words that you use. A few months into the job search, and no calls for interviews happening, Hubby realized that he was not using the key words he needed to for his resume to stand out among the thousands that were out there. Many companies are looking for resumes with certain phrases or words, so do you research. Check out what is required for the job you are searching for. Keep your resume to one page and include those key phrases!

Stay Active and Productive- I know it is hard to not feel stagnant when you are not working and have little money to get things done. When money is tight and there is very little to spend, I try to find ways to be creative. Learning to sew was actually a skill picked up about 8 years ago when Hubby got out of the military. Money was tight and I was feeling like I was losing my sanity. Picking up a new skill allowed me to feel productive and active in my family.

Hubby had to do the same thing. Being out of work for almost a year can drive anyone bananas. To keep him sane he looked into free programs to help sharpen his skills on computers. He found free webinars and videos on youtube. He was able to signup for free classes put on by our state and church. Do a bit of research and see what is available to you. Also if you are a vet, there are many programs set up to help vets get back to work. My husband took advantage of these and was able to get some additional training and certification that helped him in moving forward in his desired field of study.

Know that no matter what, you are not alone. I know how hard it is. I know how much it stinks when you feel like there is no end to the trouble you are going through. Know that there is. You will get through this and you will see brighter days.

Now I know you all have a ton more ideas for getting through these hard financial times that befall us. Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below.

XO Danielle

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  1. My husband and I got married in March of 2011, and Christmas of that year he got laid off. He was out of a job for 4 months, and at that time I was having trouble with my paychecks as well, so we relied on my cash tips to buy groceries. That was probably the toughest time in our marriage. We ate a lot of rice and beans, and Kraft mac and cheese. Anything that seemed a luxury was pretty much right out. Through it all, we still tithed on my husband's unemployment and just trusted God to get us through it. In April he had an interview and they called on his way home from the interview to offer him the job. It's been an amazing ride from there. =)

  2. Find a job anywhere you can. Even if it's not in your field or exactly your dream job. My parents both worked 3 jobs each and got about 2-3 hours of sleep during the first year of my life. We had huge medical bills to pay when I was born because I had to have open heart surgery. Money is money people. As long as you're bringing in some type of paycheck, it will definitely help. Fast food places are always hiring and it may not be a glamorous job, it is still a job and you are still supporting your family. My mom worked the midnight shift so my dad could stay home with me at night and my dad worked the day time so my mom was home with me during the day. My sister was old enough at the time to babysit me and my grandparents helped out a lot too. So every minute of the day, my parents were either working or sleeping or taking care of me. It's not easy, but it'll be worth it in the long haul.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this Danielle. I think that many families will experience a period of tight finances in their life whether it is from a job loss or other occurrence.

    When my husband and I returned from attending university in the US (to Canada) I was pregnant and very sick. He was finishing his practicum and a waiting for immigration papers. We had only the small income he got from doing odd jobs. We had a 1 bedroom basement apartment with only an air mattress, a lamp and a 13 inch black and white tv with antenna my mom had leant us. It was a rough time but also one in which we were greatly blessed in so many ways.

    One of the things that we do now to prepare incase of a job loss is that we pay bills like car insurance and property taxes in full for the coming year. We then put money aside each month until it is time to pay that bill again. It means that if a job loss occurred those bills would be taken care of for a year giving us money to divert to things such as mortgage or food.

    I'd also recommend checking with your local library. Ours is now offering online courses on a very wide range of professional and recreational topics.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Unemployment can happen to anyone, and you're right that having that savings really helps at times like these! I'm curious how you handled medical coverage. When my husband was laid off, that was our biggest expense aside from the mortgage. It's hard when something so important can be so, so expensive.

  5. My husband was out of work for 21 months. You do need to cut out all the extras, but find something inexpensive you can do to make life feel a little more normal and fun. For us, it was a weekly outing to the local discount theater ($3 each). Also, do your best to keep health insurance. My husband had emergency surgery, and had complications. His bill was over $200,000, which was nearly all covered by insurance. Yes, the COBRA coverage was expensive, but we were thankful to have it when we needed it.

  6. I think this is helpful advice as far as budgeting. Everyone should live within their means or even below to save... But I agree that their are jobs maybe not in your preferred area but you can at least bring in some income while looking for a preferred field

  7. I agree with the budgeting advice... Trim the fat. I would take on as many part time jobs as I could find to keep my kids in their activities. I believe you should always try and get some income.. My husband was laid off and made some calls and got a month contract assignment, then got a part time job before getting another contracting assignment that turned into a full time position.


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