How to Save Money When Unemployed: 30 Tips

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Unemployment is a difficult time. It's hard to get a job, and it can be even harder when you're no longer receiving a paycheck from your old employer. There is light at the end of the tunnel. 

There are plenty of ways to save money while unemployed so that you have some money in the bank should an emergency arise. 

In this article, we will discuss 30 tips on how to save money when unemployed.

Tip #1: Cut Back On Using Your Car

Only use your car for necessary errands and job interviews.

Try walking or biking instead of driving. You’ll save on gas and less of a chance your car needs servicing. 

Tip #2: Keep Your Thermostat Turned Down

Heating and cooling your home is a luxury during a financial crisis. Turn down your thermostat by a few degrees in the winter and up in the summer to save on your energy bill.

You can also use a programmable thermostat that does all the work for you. 

Tip #3: Shop for the Cheapest Grocery Options

No more Whole Foods runs. Start spending money only on store brands and necessities. 

You may also want to buy food in bulk or go on a vegetarian diet to save money on groceries.

I went vegetarian for a month, and it was quite a life experience for me. I saved a lot of cash and was able to keep up with my monthly obligations. Saving money by only eating plants was a fun experience. 

Tip #4: Limit Fast Food Trips

Limit your trips to fast-food restaurants. They are unhealthy and expensive. Cook at home instead.

Tip #5: Credit Card Companies Love Extra Spending – Avoid It

Stop spending frivolously on things like clothes, entertainment, and dining out. 

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Set a budget for yourself and stay true to it. 

Tip #6: Do Your Hair and Nails at Home

You can find plenty of tutorials online on how to do both your hair and nails yourself. Saving money is essential after a job loss. 

Tip #7: Grow Food at Home

You can do this in your backyard or on a small balcony if you live in an apartment. Not only is it fun to grow your own produce, but it's also much cheaper than buying fresh vegetables and fruit from grocery stores.

When the vegetables are ready to be harvested, be prepared to share them with your family members. 

Tip #8: Look Into Government Programs

There are many programs and financial resources available for unemployed people. 

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Job loss doesn’t have to be miserable. During a period of unemployment, check out benefits.gov for ways to keep your family afloat. Snap benefits (food stamps) are a popular choice to help with food while you search for a new job.   

Tip #9: Look for Free Events Around Town

You cannot dread your period of unemployment all day. Even if your emergency fund is dwindling, that’s why you have it.

Enjoy free events in your town. 

Look up the chamber of commerce and find free things you can do for fun. 

Remember, you will beat unemployment. 

Tip #10: Cut Back on Cable and Internet

Cancel your cable service, and use a less expensive streaming service instead. Downsize to a cheaper internet plan until you find another job.

Call and tell them you recently lost your job, and they will give you the best deal to keep you as a customer. 

Tip #11: Sell Unused Items Around the House

Sell anything you’re not using.

You can sell these items online through websites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or you can have a yard sale. Put all this money toward a savings account for your monthly payments. 

Tip #12: Use Coupons for Your Grocery Shopping

Use coupons whenever possible when buying groceries. 

Most grocery store chains have a smartphone app to access the coupons. 

Tip #13: Avoid Unnecessary Medical Expenses

Any elective procedure can wait until you have a reliable source of income again. 

Unemployment insurance will start paying a percentage of your previous job’s income quickly. 

Tip #14: Don't Buy New, Buy Used

First off, don’t buy anything that is not a legitimate need

Next, you can buy nearly everything used from your neighbors via Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. 

When you are strapped for cash, do not buy anything new. 

Tip #15: Get Your Furniture from Craigslist

You can find furniture that is in excellent condition on Craigslist. It is a great way to save money.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  

Tip #16: If You Have an Extra Bedroom, Consider Renting it Out

If you have an extra bedroom in your house, one way to make some extra money is by renting it out to an individual. Your tenant will subsidize your mortgage payments, and a little extra cash can help unemployment. 

Personal finance experts recommend having multiple sources of income. Your home is one you can utilize today. I have rented out rooms in my house for years without any problems. You need to plan ahead and have the proper agreements in place. You can have access to all the agreements I use here

Recommended: How I Make $11,100 Per Year Renting Out Rooms: 7 Step Guide

Tip #17: Side Hustles

A side hustle is any job or gig you do that’s not a traditional 9-5. Freelance writing, proofreading, and video editing are examples of a side hustle. 

I know many people who have paid off lots of debt and beat unemployment with multiple side hustles. The internet

Tip #18: Consider Part-Time Work

Consider picking up a part-time job while searching for a full-time job. Part-time jobs can also convert into full-time with the right company. 

Tip #19: Create a New Budget

Write out all your expenses, minimum payments, credit card debt, and any other savings or debt you have. A budget doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. 

Use my spending plan template to create your budget. Keeping track of your finances right now is essential, especially since you don’t have an income. 

Tip #20: Use Credit Cards as Little as Possible

Use your credit cards as little as possible. It will be tough to pay the balance if you accumulate more debt. Credit card companies love when you experience unemployment and carry a balance. 

If you do need to use your credit card for something, pay off the balance as quickly as possible to avoid paying interest. Credit card interest rates are notoriously high.

Tip #21: Do a No Spend Challenge

I did a no-spend challenge myself for a month, and although challenging, it was helpful to my savings accounts.

With no income, you want to only use your emergency fund for necessities and keep as much cash as possible.   

Tip #22: Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions

You should cut subscription services you do not use multiple times a week. 

Go through your expenses and assess whether a subscription is something you need. Your financial situation will improve, and at that point, you can choose to add the subscriptions again. 

Tip #23: Cut Down on Bills Wherever Possible

Take an honest look at every part of your budget. Unemployment should be a wake-up call.

Where can changes be made?

Make these changes immediately, and remember this is only temporary. 

Tip #24: Give Up Expensive Habits

Eliminate daily cups of coffee at your local café, brunch with friends, weekend getaways until you have a steady income and you are flush with cash again.

Tip #25: Take Advantage of Local Resources

Many local charities (and national) exist to help people in their time of need. These local nonprofits can help with your utility company bills and will help you not accumulate any new debt. Food banks can help you with your grocery expense. 

Anything to help you avoid a personal loan or use a credit card is helpful. 

Tip #26: Talk to Your Employer About Unemployment Benefits

Human Resources at your most recent job should be able to tell how to go about filing for unemployment benefits. 

File for the unemployment benefits as soon as you can. Government agencies are not known to work quickly. Have you ever waited for public transportation? 

Tip #27: Apply for Food Assistance Programs

There are many federal programs you may qualify for to help. You can spend money on things other than food. 

Tip #28: Avoid Paying Any Extra Fees

Here are a few fees that are easy to avoid:

  • Only use your bank’s ATM to withdraw cash
  • Switch to a free checking account
  • If a merchant allows you to use a bank account, avoid the credit card fee
  • Pay off all your credit card debt to avoid high-interest rates
  • Call your credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate

Tip #29: Keep Track of Essential and Nonessential Expenses

Get on a spending plan and stick to it. Make sure you take advantage of free resources like the budget template here

Tip #30: Look Into Free or Discounted Healthcare Programs

Many states have a marketplace where you have access to discount health insurance programs. Here is a directory on how to apply within each state. 

How to Save Money When Unemployed: Final Thoughts

There are many more ways to save money with full-time work, yet life is unpredictable, and job loss happens. 

Stay the course and remember the sacrifices you’re making are only temporary.

Max Marvelous
Writer at | Website | + posts

As a certified credit counselor and syndicated writer at MaxMyMoney, Max has coached over 250 Millennials to help take the stress out of money. When Max is not coaching, you'll find him reading financial books, indoor cycling, or visiting local pawn shops looking for swiss-made watches.