Being out of work is never easy, but in this recession economy it can be particularly tough to deal with. Many people are experiencing prolonged bouts of unemployment or underemployment, and while the job market is starting to turn around it is much slower than would be ideal. Even highly qualified professionals with stellar resumes who come across great in interviews are facing prolonged gaps between jobs. If you find yourself in this situation, you’re going to have to strap in and prepare to weather the storm. But even the most extensive emergency savings account can be sorely tested in this economy. That means you must find ways to save money while job hunting. Here are a few options to help you trim your expenses.
First off, revisit your budget. Whatever process you had for doling out your salary to cover monthly expenses must now be adjusted. Consider the size of your emergency fund and any part-time work or gifts that will bring money in, and then parse it out over eighteen months. You could very well find work much faster than that, but for this exercise you should be as conservative as possible. Now look at this new monthly revenue stream, and compare it to your budget. The first things that you should obviously cut are entertainment expenses and anything else that is not a requirement. That means cooking instead of going out for dinner, heading to the liquor store and having friends over instead of meeting for drinks at the bar and watching free streaming movies as opposed to heading to the theater. It won’t feel great, but it is a necessary step to help you save money.
Even after cutting out all unnecessary expenditures you may still need to save more money. So look at creative ways to alter your required spending. One option is changing your mode of transportation. This will obviously depend greatly on where you live and the weather, but try to get from point A to point B on a bicycle or on foot whenever possible. You’ll save a ton on gas money, and if you live in a city that is easily accessible consider giving up your car altogether. You can take the train or the bus when you really need to get somewhere, or even borrow a friend’s car if you absolutely have to. And for those special occasions renting a car for the day will still be cheaper than keeping a vehicle for the whole month.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will always have to pay the monthly utilities that keep it going. But you do have some amount of control over how much those utilities cost. For example, turn the thermostat down two degrees and wear an extra layer of clothing and you’ll save big this winter. Make sure you turn the lights off when you leave a room, and even sit by candlelight whenever possible. Take shorter showers to cut down on your water bill, and even consider downgrading your television, phone and internet package to something more modest until your situation turns around.
You may never have clipped a single coupon in your life, but now is the time to start. Savvy couponing, paired with membership programs at your supermarket and the retailers you most commonly shop with will save you a shocking amount of money. That’s why those printed circulars still exist in this day and age, when thousands of online coupons can be found on couponloco.com or any number of discount sites. So check the ego and get a sharp scissor. Your slimmed down budget will thank you for it.