Being unemployed is a serious financial setback for your household. Though it can cause some instability for your financially, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think. While your income may have stopped coming in or is greatly decreased, there are ways to afford the things you need most without a job until you get back on your feet. Here are some of the most common monthly expenses and ways to reduce them while unemployed.
See What You’re Working With
Before you can begin to reduce bills and set up payment arrangements you’ll need to know what you can afford. If you haven’t done so already, visit your local unemployment offices to find out if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits. You should also check your savings account and any other financial accounts you have. Tally up your finances to see what your monthly budget would look like and how much of this you can dedicate to bills.
Gas & Electric
Obviously, you can’t call your electric company and ask them to shut off service until you’re fully employed again, but you can drastically reduce the bill and even receive assistance with paying a portion. Here are some ways to reduce gas and electric costs while unemployed:
- Reduce your usage – turn off everything you’re not using and other methods are ideal for reducing energy consumption.
- Weatherize your home – find and plug any holes and crack around the house that can reduce efficiency
- Shop around – shop for the energy provider with the best rates
- Utility assisted programs – if you fall within the required income limits there are utility assistance programs to help with utility costs.
Cable, Phone, & Internet
Here’s a monthly expense that can be eliminated from the budget. There are so many free and affordable ways to watch television and talk on the phone that you don’t need to pay close to $200 per month for a package. Instead, invest in more affordable options that will save you money on cable, phone, and internet services.
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu cost less than $10 a month and allow you to watch the latest shows and movies. Free phone options like Google Voice and Skype allow you to contact friends and family members without the cost of a home phone.
No matter what your income looks like, you’ve got to eat. That being said, you’ll need to reduce the amount of money you’re spending every month at the grocery store. Here are some ways to reduce the costs of food:
- Couponing – clipping coupons is a long-time favorite for those trying to save money. By matching discount coupons with local sales, you could essentially walk out of the grocery store without paying a penny for your food.
- Buy generic brands – Instead of buying nationwide brands you may need to stick to store brand merchandise. It often tastes just as good as the national brands but costs a lot less.
- Buy in bulk – bulk purchasing can work for building a grocery stockpile. This will eventually reduce the number of trips you need to make to the grocery store.
Though the money train has stopped running, it doesn’t mean that your bills do. Before things start to get out of hand, it is imperative to learn how to live on a fixed income. You really have to hone in on your finances by assessing your monthly expenses and determining ways to either eliminate those costs or reduce them. You will need to remain disciplined and stick to your new income budget limits to ensure that you don’t fall behind while you’re unemployed.