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How to Stay Afloat When You’re Unemployed

If you’re recently unemployed, you’re probably feeling worried and fretting about expenses. It’s hard to say how long you’ll face unemployment, unless you were laid off with a clear return date. It could be a short-term or long-term period of job loss.

Most experts agree that you should plan for at least a six-month period of unemployment, unless you’re positive you’ll return to work sooner. This guide is designed to help ease the stress of unemployment by preparing you financially. Unemployment doesn’t have to financially cripple you; actually, it can be a positive time of renewal and reinvention if you’re prepared.

Apply for Unemployment Benefits ASAP

Don’t wait to sign up for unemployment benefits. Even if you’re going to receive another check from your job, it takes time to get you into system, so apply for benefits asap. Plus, employment offices typically provide you with job search resources. GA unemployment lists job training, employment workshops, job expos, and resume assistance among the resources they offer.  

Unemployment benefits won’t start paying out until you stop receiving payroll checks; however, you can register the day you lose your job. This is going to help ensure there aren’t long gaps where you’re not receiving money.

Defer Your Debt

Oftentimes, loans and credit cards will allow you to participate in a deferment if you’re unexpectedly unemployed. These deferments may be complete or partial. A complete deferment would mean you pay nothing until you gain employment. A partial deferment will lower your payments until such a time as you can afford to pay more. Not all deferments work this way; some allow for a very specific time period, such as three months, which means you’ll want to work diligently to regain employment during this deferment period, or at least save enough money to make your payments when they resume.  

Slash Your Budget

The secret to building savings, even when you’re unemployed, is knowing where to cut back. If you don’t already have a budget built, use Excel to create one or The Daily Muse’s budget tool. You’re going to want to slash unnecessary expenses, such as dining out and premium cable channels. This isn’t a time for luxuries, which isn’t much fun, but if you’re diligent now you can resume extraneous spending when you’re employed later.

Adjust Your Health Care

If you have a family, you may not be able to reduce your medical insurance costs, but if you’re a healthy individual this is an area where you can definitely save. Bankrate.com warns that COBRA is expensive, but it’s what it usually offered post-job loss. Instead of going the expensive route, consider a “bare-bones major medical plan… The Web sites Insureme.com (a Bankrate company), Ehealthinsurance.com and Insurance.com offer good options.” Your state may also have a state or federally funded, such as Medicaid, program for low-income individuals.

Make a Plan For Your Job Search

The reporters at Boton.com have some great advice for putting together a job search plan. They warn it won’t be easy to find a job, but with effort you’ll land something worthwhile. “…finding a new job is probably going to take at least a few weeks and maybe months.” It’s important that you’re realistic about this, so you can financially prepare yourself.

Unemployment will insist you apply for a certain amount of jobs per week or month, but they can’t tell you where to apply. If you apply to something you’re overqualified for, you may get the job, but will it be worth it? If you decline the job you could lose your benefits, so consider every application you submit very carefully.

Overall, if you’re diligent and careful with your money, you’ll be okay. Try not to get bogged down by depression; most people face unemployment at least once in their life. Also, it may be a good idea to take advantage of this time by participating in job training or returning to college. You have options and resources, and you’re going to get through this.  

Peter Christopher

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