When you’re let go from your job one of the first financial resources you can turn to are your unemployment benefits. For those that qualify, unemployment benefits provide a weekly predetermined amount of money. This benefit is typically afforded to you for at least six months with the opportunity for extensions in certain states. As convenient as unemployment benefits can be, however, they’re not always enough to cover your expenses.
For instance, if you review Florida unemployment eligibility you’ll see that while you may qualify to receive benefits, the maximum weekly amount you can receive is $275 per week. Though $1,100 a month is a lot better than zero, if you’re not mindful of how you manage your money during unemployment, you’ll quickly find yourself stressed. Here’s some advice.
Create a Weekly Budget
A budget is necessary during unemployment to keep track of your expenses and income. Rather than creating a monthly budget that can be hard to stick to, try a weekly budget. Take all of your monthly bills and divide them by four to determine how much you will pay each week. Then subtract your weekly bills from your weekly benefit rate.
Is it enough to cover your bills? If so, just stay the pace with your budget as you look for new employment. However, if you notice your bills are more than your income right now you need to consider ways to cut back on spending or to increase your income like a side hustle.
Trimming the Fat
If you’re not going to be able to survive on unemployment benefits alone for the next six months it’s time to start trimming the fat of your budget. You’ll need to review your spending habits to determine what can be removed to reduce the amount of money you need to spend each week. Here are some areas you might want to consider trimming:
· Owning a car – public transportation is more affordable than owning a car. The cost of gas and car maintenance are unnecessary when you’re unemployed. Park the car and grab a monthly metro pass to get around your town.
· Cell Phone Packages – of course, you’ll need a reliable means of communication to reach out to potential employers, but do you really need an unlimited plan? Get a more affordable plan with fewer data. There are plenty of places with free wi-fi you can use.
· Eating Out – even going to lunch and eating from the value menu every day can add up. Just $5 per day is $150 per month on eating out. Instead, get creative with your meal options and cook at home.
· Entertainment – sitting at home every day as you look for employment can seem depressing. Rather than spending a ton of money on entertainment, try to find free and affordable things you can do in your neighborhood or just for fun. Take a walk through a park, have a picnic with friends, or even visit an affordable museum just to get your mind off of things.
If in creating a weekly budget and trimming some of the fat you still find it difficult to live in your weekly benefit amount, earning extra money is the best option. There are plenty of things to try like working for a temp service, working as apart-timee customer service rep from home, or even helping a neighbor move can bring in extra money you can add to your budget.
Surviving on your unemployment benefits will take some adjusting. Create an easy to follow budget, trim the fat, and find ways to bring in money on the side until you find a job suitable to your skills and needs. It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will reduce a lot of the stress that can be caused by the sudden loss of employment.
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