So you just lost your job, maybe to no fault of your own… but now you are part of the jobless numbers and things have drastically changed. Maybe you are on unemployment insurance benefits to ease the pain. Maybe you are separately well off so as there is no pain anyway (lucky you). This article is looking at it from the perspective of someone who is now strapped for income and needs to find a way to go on living their life! Below is a list of things to do while unemployed; things a person can do to lessen the emotional and financial strain of being out of work. This is not the end; it is the beginning of a new adventure.
Finances, Where Do You Stand?
You are now unemployed. There are things you need to do while unemployed to survive the effects of the Great Recession we are in. First things first; there are jobless benefits and claims for the jobless to help bridge the gap from one career to the next. To claim unemployment you must go to an unemployment office and fill out the necessary paperwork. Once all of this paperwork is processed and your jobless benefits are approved you will be able to start to claim your unemployment insurance benefits. This will not go into effect retroactively, so apply for your unemployment insurance benefits IMMEDIATELY!
Once the stop-gap emergency unemployment compensation is in place, it is time to get your finances in order… down to the penny! Do you have a gym membership? That needs to go. Do you eat out a few times a week? Not anymore! This is survival mode that you are in. It is time to decide what is necessary to continue and what is a frivolous given your current situation. In this jobless recovery since the Great Recession, long term unemployment has been frustratingly high as the jobless rate refuses to come down. There is no reason to think that another job is just around the corner. I am not saying there is no hope, I'm just saying prepare for the worst, hope for the best is the type of attitude you must have to tackle this problem so you do not join the ranks of the long term unemployed.
The things that I see as essential are as follows;
- Groceries (as good a time to learn to cook and frugally grocery shop as any)
- Rent and Utilities
- Any Credit Cards you may have that need to be paid
A few ways that you can cut money is to limit transportation, or take public transportation if you did not before. We all know how high gas prices are! Also, do you really need a cell phone with the premium data package and unlimited minutes? Maybe yes, maybe no… that is for you to decide. Each person is different, but my point is to go through your expenses with a fine tooth comb to see what can be cut.
Where did you come from? Where will you go?
Now that your expenses are in check, the next thing is to look for a new position. Determine what field you want to pursue (maybe different from what you just left)! Once you have the type of position you are going to target zeroed in on; use all the tools you have at hand. Join LinkedIn. Let your friends and peers on Facebook know you are looking. If the setting is right, bring it up in conversations to get the word out that you are in the market and a highly employable person. Networking is the best way to find employment that will also provide satisfaction as opposed to just a paycheck. Finding a job is priority number one. After all you are only part of the jobless numbers so long as you do not have a job!
Try to make a little money on the side while you are searching for a permanent position. Think about things that you can do in a pinch: painting, carpentry, landscaping, snow removal, any skills that may be able to help ease the unemployed pain. Writing online to earn money through evenue sharing sites such as InfoBarrel is an option as well.
You don't want to fall into a jobless depression!
With your expenses in check and your job search under way, what are you going to do with all that free time? Watching reruns of Lost does not count. To stay out of the funk of being jobless and depressed that may ensue, I highly recommend exercise. I know, I know, I told you to quit that gym you belonged to. There are plenty of ways to exercise that do not include a gym membership. One way is to walk to more places. Are you going to the store? Walk there as opposed to taking the car (doubles as a gas saver). Go for a run a day. The run does not have to be long, but a mile run will make you feel better. A few sets of push ups and sit ups each morning will get the blood pumping and will help remind you that you are still alive even if not in the workforce. Spend a few bucks ($15) on a pull up bar to add that to the routine. You will see that most of the gym was an unnecessary luxury in the first place!
Now that you are healthy and ready for the day, you need to fill it. Pick up a few productive hobbies.
Gardening and Grocery
Work on that green thumb!
If you ever had any interest in gardening, think about starting a vegetable garden. This is another double whammy that will cut down on your grocery bill and give you satisfaction. It doesn’t have to be large: tomatoes, peppers, herbs, beans. This also plays into another important aspect of penny pinching; grocery shopping. Plan each trip out and look for bargains with daily deals and coupons. NEVER (well almost never) buy full price items at the store. Products go through cycles of being on sale almost every other week. When something you know you are going to use goes on sale, stock up!
Catch up on that list of books you have.
Whether you are an avid reader or not, picking up a few novels to kill some time will be time better spent than watching the “boob tube”. You can use a mix of industry specific books and periodicals to keep you informed and up to date as well as reading for enjoyment. Reading will keep you sharp and give you ideas to use for job interview questions while preparing you mentally for the job interview process.
Never Stop Learning
Another thing that is available and fantastic is the free open source learning that is available through the web. Yale, MIT, Stanford, as well as other universities all have classes that are available for free through the internet. If there is something that you wanted to learn, or just feel like taking this time to improve your knowledge, go for it! It will only make you a more employable person going forward and reduce your chances of becoming part of the long term unemployed!
Along this same thread, think about attempting to pick up another language. It won’t be easy, and may not be free (thinking Rosetta Stone), but it will be an enlightening experience and again make you more employable as well.
The world we live in is getting smaller and smaller as it gets more global. The more tools you have to interact with it the better off you will be! Good luck in your endeavors, and I hope this list of things to do while unemployed helps you ease the transition from working, to jobless, back to employed!