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what to do when you're broke and unemployed
22 May 2020

What to Do When You’re Broke and Unemployed: 9 Key Steps to Take

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The U.S. is experiencing record massive unemployment right now because of the coronavirus. Over 17 million American workers have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March, and that number is expected to rise.

But even when a pandemic isn’t wrecking havoc on the economy, anyone can find themselves suddenly out of a job. Unemployment can be a very scary and stressful situation, especially as you watch your savings dwindle.

As tempting as it may be to watch TV all day after you’re laid off, the best thing you can do is be proactive towards finding a new job and ways of creating income. These nine tips will show you what to do when you’re broke and unemployed to get your life on track again.

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1. Apply For Unemployment Benefits If You Haven’t Already

Unemployment benefits are a federal lifeline when you find yourself out of work, so you should take advantage of them—even during times when everyone is applying for them. Keep in mind that depending upon your state, your weekly benefit amount may only be about 60% or so of what your employment check was. If you choose to take part-time work, you may only be allowed to earn up to a certain amount per week before it’s deducted from your benefits.

Some states may also require you to attend a resume workshop or job hunting seminar or submit proof that you’re actively seeking work as requirements to continue receiving benefits. Still, when you’ve lost your job, unemployment checks give you a cushion of financial security to help pay bills until you can find viable employment again.

2. Update Your Resume

Now is a great time to refresh your resume, and not just to update it with your most recently held job but to also fine-tune the language and add any new skills you’ve acquired. You may want to try new formatting so it’s easier for employers to scan and read.

Keeping your resume up-to-date is more thing to cross off from your unemployment to-do list. If you’re not sure where to start, job coaches on YouTube usually have some great resume tips.

3. Raise Some Cash

Chances are you have gently used or unused possessions lying around the house that may be useful to someone else. Now is the time to put a few bucks in your wallet by selling them. Plan a garage sale or post items to Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Craigslist, or eBay.

Sites like Decluttr and Second Spin will give you cash for DVDs and CDs. Poshmark is a great place to sell clothing and fashion accessories. Not only will selling unwanted items raise some cash for you, but it’ll also help declutter your home and storage areas.

4. Take a Part-Time or Gig Job

You may want to consider taking a part-time job or working a self employment gig to bring in extra income. Even though many gig workers have found their workflow affected by Covid-19, there are still ways to make money online.

Maybe you’re a graphic designer or writer who can freelance their services. You can also try becoming a virtual assistant or customer service representative. If you have something unique to say or present to the world, you can try starting a blog or your own YouTube channel and running ads on it.

Have a creative streak? Consider making items that other people may find useful and sell them on Etsy or your own website. You never know—pursuing your passion or discovering a new one may just become your next career.

5. Defer or Consolidate Your Loans

If you’re struggling to pay off credit card debt, a debt consolidation loan that combines what is owned on several accounts can help lower your interest rate and your monthly payment. If you have student loan debt or a home mortgage, contact the lender to find out if you can defer any of your payments for a future date. You won’t be wiping out this debt, but at least you’ll be buying some more time to find a job or other income to pay it off.

6. Learn Something New

Take advantage of your free time by using it to pick up some new skills, particularly ones that can help you land your next job. Job descriptions will often offer you clues on skills you may lacking. Whether it’s learning a new software or how to manage work projects better, acquiring them now will put you in a better position during a competitive job market.

And learning new things doesn’t have to be work-related. If you’ve always been curious about drawing, playing a musical instrument, or other interest, now is a great time to explore them. New hobbies can also lead to additional income.

7. Join a Support Group

Having a network of other people you can vent to and get tips from will keep you emotionally strong during this trying time. Even though people aren’t meeting in person when social distancing is in place, there are plenty of career advice, networking, and job hunting support groups online to check out, particularly on social media sites. Sometimes just having other people you can vent to who understand what you’re going through can help motivate you to keep going.

8. Exercise

Why would exercise be important when you’re unemployed and struggling for money? Because it will help you deflect stress, anxiety, and depression that can all come with being out of work. Try to keep your body moving every day and find ways to keep your mental health strong in between applying for jobs.

9. Stay Positive

Although it may be hard, above all, stay positive and believe in yourself that better days are coming. Try to find things everyday to be grateful for instead of focusing on what is currently lacking in your life. Many people who land a new job after being unemployed often discover that losing the other job was meant to be and helped them find an opportunity that’s a better fit for their personalty and passions.

Know What To Do When You’re Broke and Unemployed

Knowing what to do when you’re broke and unemployed will bring you greater peace of mind everyday versus sitting around. You’ll feel more confident when you’re taking action that is increasing your chances of bringing you a better life and gainful employment again.

Personal loans can also help in times of unemployment. Learn about cash loans and how they work, and request a loan from Bonsai Finance to help cover your bills until you’re working again.