|| 06/17/2004 ||

So it's been about two weeks since I have been unemployed. Here's some tips for anyone out there in this situation, or if you want to know what it's like:

Fuck all that shit out there that tells you to be optimistic, here's a real life guide on how to survive unemployment, assuming that you are employable, and you will get a new job, hopefully soon.

1) Assess your current financial situation. Do NOT pay your bills, you'll need some cash to survive. Look at your current savings, look at your current expenses. Most important, remember this: "The people you owe money to are the ones with the problem, not you."

2) Call the unemployment office and start getting cash from them. I may be unemployed for only a week or two but I've paid into it, so I'll take the cash. I'm collecting about $1700 a month from unemployment right now, but if you don't call them you get nothing. Do NOT take taxes on the unemployment checks, you should be able to afford to pay the tax later. The no tax thing will give you about $400 more a month.

3) Get things in order. After looking at what you have left in cash reserves, limit any cash or out of pocket expenses to the things that you can not otherwise put on credit, you will have a job again, you just have to prolong the period that you can live on your reserves. In my case the only bill I can't pay with credit is my rent. Unemployment covers that.

4) Buy a case of beer and a carton of smokes, if that's your thing. Start cutting down on both. Unemployment does not mean you have to live extremely frugal, just reasonably. Cancel that second phone line you don't use, cancel the all-inclusive cable channels you get, cancel insurance on vehicles you aren't using. Cut back but not to the point that would harm your ability to act normally. I'll cancel the cable and the phone at the end of the month, you usually pay for these services a month ahead of time so no reason on canceling them early, call your people to check on this. 

5) Pay only the bills that matter. These are, in order of importance: house payments, car payments, auto insurance, credit card bills (and with credit card bills, call them, tell them you are unemployed, pay less than the minimum, you need credit). Utility bills are not important! Most utility companies will never shut you off if you just call them and make a token payment of a few bucks a month until you get employed. No harm to your credit, they are quite willing to offset the payments, call them and ask. Loan payments and other credit payments you'll have to find some way to deal with. I don't own a house, but if you do, this is why you pay insurance on your mortgage, check into the insurance on your mortgage and see if unemployment is covered (it probably is) .

6) Insurance: If you have a family, you really should look into COBRA (in the US you can extend your employer's coverage of  your employee plan at your own cost). If you are on your own, there are many other options for insurance, or at a minimum, emergency insurance. You have a few weeks to deal with this.

7) 401K - If you are like me, you may have a 401K plan that you are worried about losing when you leave your employer. Usually you can roll this over to a new employer, should it be within 90 days of your termination. If you have a loan against your current 401K plan, talk to a local Credit Union about a short term loan between rollovers to avoid any cash out losses. No matter what, you should be able to keep the current 401K plan or roll the plan into an IRA. Talk to your 401K people about this, not your ex-employer.

8) Get a job - the above things should take you one day to asses and think about, take a week off and get your shit together. Rewrite your resume and get it out, to everyone you know. Call people you know in your business and ask them if you can either use them as a reference or send them a resume.

9) One week of unemployment will drive you nuts, it sucks not working. If you either haven't had an interview or a job by week two, you're not working yourself, keep trying.

Leave a Comment

Surfer Wrote the following on 06/18/2004 3:45 PM :
I work (well, worked) at a college. When the students don't have class, I don't work. It's summer. 4 months of unemployment. I'd like to add, that if you rent, you should, finances allowing, keep your rent paid one month ahead. I paid my rent four months ahead (something like $1300) each summer. Landlords seem to love that. Of course, you should do this before you're unemployed.

Surfer Wrote the following on 06/18/2004 3:48 PM :
By the way, on the lighter side: this is the perfect time for you to complete all those projects you never quite had time to do! (I keep lots of those around the house...)

codewolf Wrote the following on 06/20/2004 5:15 PM :
Thanks Nat. I love keeping the site updated for people like you!

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