4 Ways to Stay On Top of Expenses When You’re Unemployed

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Very few people actually want to be unemployed. Still, it happens. Even if you’re prepared with an emergency fund, or second income (such as a spouse’s income or freelance gig) to fall back on, it’s definitely a good idea to stay on top of your expenses while unemployed. This way, your savings will last longer, and you can make adjustments if unemployment lasts longer than expected. Here are 4 ways to stay on top of expenses when you’re unemployed.

Cut Expenses

This tip should be the most obvious action to take when you experience a loss of income. Even if you have a solid emergency fund, you’re going to want to cut expenses so this money can last even longer should you have the need. Other fairly obvious places to cut expenses are on cable, discretionary spending such as gifts, extracurricular activities, and eating out.

Other places to cut expenses include buying off brand, couponing to save on beauty items (these are always worth the time spent clipping and saving), and inviting friends over for a night in instead of going out. Frugality will get you everywhere when you’re unemployed, and most people are fairly understanding in these circumstances.

Prioritize your Bills

Speaking of bills, you’ll still have to pay these, even though you’re unemployed. Do an inventory of bills by due date and calculate up how much money you have coming in. Many people who find themselves unexpectedly without employment forget to communicate with creditors. Many companies often offer economic hardship deferments, but you have to ask and communicate with them about these circumstances.

If there aren’t any hardship programs available, you should try to pay at least part of your bills, or set up a partial payment to show creditors good faith and that you’re not defaulting on your bills. Many offer late fees for portions of unpaid balances for 30 to 60 days. While this isn’t ideal, it will keep your utilities on.

Consolidate Trips when Running Errands

Gas prices are only increasing, and you need to save your gas for important job interviews or picking up the kids from school. Pre-planning your errands and consolidating trips will help you save money on gas. While you’re at it, consider which “errands” are really a necessity. Dry cleaning may or may not be, depending on if you’re using your suit or not. Groceries are always a must, but banking and bill pay can often be done online, saving you a trip.

Pick up Side Jobs (if You Can)

In today’s economy, a regular 9-5 job isn’t the only way to make a living. Depending on your situation, part-time or contract work may not be ideal, but it can be a way to bring in income while you’re unemployed. Many workers can now work virtually at a call center, as a virtual assistant, or data entry specialist.

Also, never underestimate the value of quick “side jobs” found on craigslist or task rabbit. This is a great way to pick up extra money without a large time commitment.

What are some of your favorite, creative ways to stay on top of expenses while unemployed?

Lauren Bowling is the blogger behind L Bee and the Money Tree, a diary of her finance-related triumphs and disasters, and the host of popular internet talk show “Awkward Money Chat,” where she has awkward interviews about money with guests and friends. As a financial journalist, Lauren’s work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Yahoo! Finance, Money Talks News, and Credit.com. Lauren recently became a first-time homeowner in Atlanta, where she happily resides with her puppy, Murray.



  • When I was unemployed for how many months, I prioritized to pay my bills first. And I take a sideline job like data encoding and also tutoring.

  • Amanda /

    I’m currently unemployed and just posted about this very topic myself. Some of the things I’m doing include answering surveys online, redeeming points, monetizing my blog, and trying my luck with entering contests/giveaways online. None of these are going to bring in the big bucks, but they are easy ways to make a few extra bucks.

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