That may sound extreme, but if you’re among the more than 15 million North Americans collecting unemployment, that’s just about what you have to live on, which means getting creative with your finances. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, unemployment insurance is supposed to pay half your normal salary while you look for work, but that’s not usually the case. So it’s not easy to make ends meet.
One woman in an article we read says her jobless benefits are only about 40% of what she earned on the job. So, she’s using all kinds of tricks to make ends meet, including buying her milk and bread in bulk and freezing it, replacing her cell phone with Google’s free calling service, and negotiating to freeze her heating bill for three months so that she can still afford to pay it. Unlike many unemployed people, she hasn’t yet had to turn to food stamps or move in with her parents.
Another woman mentioned in the article lost her job as a director of recruiting for a New York City law firm. She went from making $200,000 a year to about $20,000. First, she canceled her gym membership and stopped eating out. Then, she cashed in her 401K and sold her father’s collectible coins from the Montreal Olympics. To supplement her income, she rented out a room in her apartment through AirBNB.com, sold some of her clothes, and took all kinds of odd jobs – from being an extra on Law & Order to writing a column for a website devoted to the unemployed. Today, she’s a full-time freelancer – a “permalancer” – who doesn’t depend on unemployment at all.
Another unemployed worker says some coffee shops offer day-old bread and bagels for next to nothing. For more ideas go to MainStreet.com.