5 MORE Things To Do When You're Unemployed

by AnomalousArtist

Besides being stressful, unemployment can be expensive. Here are some practical suggestions on what to do if you find yourself out of a job.

In a companion article I wrote about the feast/famine nature of my career. When you do contract or freelance work you have to accept that sometimes you won't be working and you can't always know when you WILL be employed again. If you choose this lifestyle it's a good idea to have some sort of game plan to get through "lean times."

In my other article I offered some suggestions on what to do if you find yourself out of work.
Through personal experience and the stories of my friends who work in various industries in Hollywood I've learned some tips on how to tighten your belt while you look for another job, re-train or wait for an existing job to kick in. If you are newly unemployed or might be without a job in the future, read on if you'd like to know more!

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1) Create a budget

This is something I know a lot of my friends resist doing, particularly those who are bad with numbers.  One of the joys of being gainfully employed is that you don't have to worry as much about money; one of the many unpleasant aspects of being unemployed is you DO have to worry more about money.  One way to alleviate a lot of stress, even though it may seem like a chore, is to "look the thing in the eye." 

Find out how much you spend a month and what you're spending money on.  See if there are any expenses that are adding up that you haven't thought about or could drop from your weekly spending habits...do you need a once-a-day Starbucks fix?  Do you go eat out regularly?  Could you make these things yourself at home (for half the cost)? Do you go to the movies a lot or spend money shopping or going out for drinks? Could you cut back on some of these things?  

The goal is to go over your budget with close scrutiny and separate out things that are essential from things you can live without and see if there's anything you can cut.  Initially you shouldn't "cut till you hurt," just see if you can trim the fat a bit. 

2) Find out if there's a 99-cent store nearby

99 cent stores (where nothing in the store costs more than 99 cents, natch!), or the equal of this type of store, can sometimes be like a hidden secret--if you've never been to one you'd be amazed how often you can get the exact same things sold at a major grocery store, often for half the price, or more.  Sometimes the deals aren't as good, sometimes the product quality isn't high and there is often a stigma with such stores--either because of the "low budget" way they're set up or the people who frequent the place. 

Tip:  Get over it! 

If you really want to save some money while you're looking for a new job you can't afford NOT to at least check out your local discount stores--you can also find discount clothing stores for essential items and outlet stores often have great bargains and find yourself saving quite a lot of money.

3) Consider buying it used

Depending on how long you think you'll be out of work, you might want to check out local charity stores or your local Goodwill where you can find clothes, furniture, and other items for a fraction of what they cost new.  You may have to sift through a lot of stuff that isn't worth much but, after all, you probably have more time on your hands anyway, right?  And there's something very satisfying about getting a great deal.  Think about anything you wouldn't mind having pre-owned--you might be surprised how far a dollar can go if you haven't looked before!

4) Avoid purchasing entertainment media if you can

This one is dependent on your interest in "media," but it's no secret that new movies, music, books and magazines can be very expensive.  If you have a decent local library you can probably find a lot of things to keep yourself busy. Maybe you have a friend who likes to collect things and you can borrow from that person?  If you live in a bigger city there might still be some used book/music/movie rental shops around, though these types of stores are rapidly becoming extinct.

At any rate, rather than feeling bad because you're missing out on the latest bestseller, album or movie rental, why not check out something you never got around to before? There are likely dozens of artists whose work you are interested in that you don't even know about because, in our fast-paced world, things get swept away the minute something else comes along.

Similarly, you may have dozens of books, movies, songs or magazines in your possession that you could check out again. 

Alternatively, there are all sorts of things you can do for free for entertainment.  Check out your town's local paper and see if any free events are going on.  If it's nice out, take a long walk or bike ride, or spend some time with a friend just talking and watch the time fly by!

5) Accept change

The tendency for most of us is to strive towards some sort of "dream goal."  Many Americans, in particular, were raised with an ideal vision that included a steady job, a house, a nice car,  a spouse, some kids and perhaps an animal companion or two. While that may work on paper or may even be an ideal worth striving for it isn't the ONLY way to live.  The current state of the world is "constant flux" and it can be a wonderful, freeing thing to examine your ideals and find out what you really want out of life, even if you decide it really is a "white picket fence."

Similarly you might be comparing yourself to your peers--so-and-so may have the biggest TV/car/whatever on the block and you might find your self-esteem slipping when you compare what you "have" to your neighbor.  This thinking, although human and "normal," is completely unnecessary...you have what you "need" as long as you truly have yourself. 

Consider downsizing...consider re-locating.  Traditionally, in times of depression families had to pick up and move to wherever the work was, and with outsourcing becoming more of a fact of life every day it's a good idea to embrace the idea of being mobile--remember that wherever YOU are is, ultimately, home.

If you absolutely can't  relocate  think about ways you can change your lifestyle to keep up what you have.  Maybe you or someone in your family arrangement has to "take up the slack" by getting another job?  Maybe someone has to sacrifice something for the greater good? Again, it requires sitting down and looking the "monster" in the eye and assessing what you can do something about and what you can't.  You may be surprised how easy it is to change things in your lifestyle once you've set your mind to it and accept the idea that change is inevitable.  By embracing this concept and welcoming changes you might even get to a place that is better than where you were originally.


Losing your job or being unable to find one can be nerve-wracking, energy draining and scary.  Hopefully, if you become unemployed, you will realize that you always have options; if you reach out and communicate with  your own support groups or those resources that are out there if you look for them, I think you'll find there is just about always a solution to any problem; you just have to make an effort.

Becoming more "practical" with your money not only keeps you from burning up any savings you (hopefully!) have; it can give you a sense of pride and validation when you master taking care of your resources, and yourself.  You might even find that it helps you save when you are earning money again.

If you are unemployed or soon will be, or know someone who is, I hope some of these suggestions were valuable.  Drop me a line some time and let me know if you have further thoughts or suggestions!   

Updated: 05/17/2013, AnomalousArtist
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AnomalousArtist on 06/18/2013

Very true, thanks for your comment!

WriterArtist on 06/18/2013

It is so painful and stressful to be unemployed when you clearly know you have skills that are not being utilized. But even in those frustrating times, you can find there are ways to save money. These are some of very practical tips that help you in any time; recession or not.

AnomalousArtist on 05/20/2013

Wow, thanks Mira, and that's so true!

Mira on 05/20/2013

Looking back at periods of financial struggle, I can say that they teach us many valuable lessons. Of course, when you go through them, it's not always fun :). Sometimes not fun at all :). But it can make us reconsider what we eat, what we buy, how we spend our time . . . We change, and change allows us to grow, as you very well say :). Loved your article.

AnomalousArtist on 05/19/2013

Thanks! And I agree, you can get into some good money-saving habits if you try. Some of the "rich" people I know are huge coupon clippers. :)

fitzcharming on 05/19/2013

These are great tips. I'm recently "retired" and have done all of these. You're right, it's liberating to know that you can live on less, even if you still have a job.

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