Thursday, August 09, 2007

5 Tips for Saving Money While Unemployed

There's no magic pill for generating cash when a steady paycheck disappears. But there are strategies for saving cash. I recently received a list of cost-cutting tips from Take Charge America:

"Surviving Between Jobs: 5 tips on Cutting Costs During Unemployment

The key to survival is to focus on necessary costs and cut out frivolous expenditures.

1. Revisit your Personal Budget – While employed, your personal budget may have focused on short-and long-term goals such as planning a summer vacation or saving for a child’s college tuition, but now your budget should focus on only short term goals regarding your daily living necessities. Rework your budget to only include essential expenses such as food, clothing, housing, transportation and health care. To help you get started, write down every payment you absolutely must make to survive --- that is, rent or mortgage payment, food, car payment and health insurance.

It is also important to protect your credit during this difficult time. Since you don't know how long you might be without a job, you may want to be proactive and contact any creditors who might allow deferral of payment until you can secure regular employment. For instance, school loan providers often will extend a grace period in case of emergency.

2. Get Out the Cookbook – By preparing meals at home, you can dramatically cut costs. In a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the average household expenditure for food away from home in 2005 was $1,054 per person. Take advantage of coupons and specials, and try to ignore brands and fancy labels when shopping at the supermarket. There are a number of websites offering easy at-home meal planning and ideas for creating low-budget, healthy home-cooked meals.

3. Cut Out Credit Card Spending – Using credit cards can often lead to poor spending habits – something you can’t afford, especially when you have no income coming in. Remove the temptation by removing your credit cards from your wallet and placing them in a safe place like a desk drawer. By avoiding credit card spending, you can more easily track where your money is going and where you can eliminate unnecessary spending.

4. Create a Cushion – It is important to set aside money for emergencies. You should put away as much as possible, but at least enough to cover an emergency like having an unexpected car expense. The important thing to remember is to make sure you can cover all of your necessary expenses and have a reserve for an emergency. A fun hands-on way for kids to participate and learn good money saving skills is to have them hunt for loose change around the house and in the car and collect it in a bottle or jar. By including the entire family, everyone can learn from and feel good about making good money management choices. For more kid-friendly money saving tips visit

5. Drive Less – With gas prices continuing to rise, carpooling or use of public transportation can help you cut your expenses. Since you will be searching for a job, you may need to drive to interviews, so save your gas money for these critically important trips. If you must drive, save gas and time by planning trips in advance and combine your trips whenever possible.

Plan your meals for an entire week and make one trip to the grocery store instead of sporadically throughout the week. Also, if you need to make multiple stops, plan the best route so you are not driving all over town. Visit for more tips on saving gas, time and money.

Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, says that cutting out needless expenses is a lot easier than you might think. “If you saved all of the money spent on coffee runs, vending machines, movies and late fees, you would probably have a small fortune,” he said. “By being creative and committing to trimming down costs, surviving between jobs is possible.”

By keeping these tips in mind, you can greatly reduce your monthly costs and easily manage your budget between jobs. Sullivan says, “The key is to be creative in the ways you cut back and to analyze all aspects of your spending trends to see where you can save money while maintaining basic needs and protecting your credit as much as possible.”


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1 comment:

creditlucky said...

What if the tips have already been used and there' s still a lack of cash? You don't go by public transport but walk. You don't cook but have fast-made food. And you take your credit card back into your wallet.