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How To Survive Unemployment

Updated : September 29th, 2022

How To Survive Unemployment

Being unemployed is tough. Especially with the rising costs of basic essentials, not having a job makes it difficult to see through each day. The pressure is even more if you have a family to tend to. You can, however, get through this with proper planning and a strong will to face the challenges.

In case you are recently unemployed then you should be able to learn how to survive unemployment. Another equally hard fact to digest is that 3.7 percent of Americans are unemployed and 22.9 percent of those people have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. The hardest thing is having to cash in your last paycheck and not know where the next paycheck would come in from.

7 Ways To Survive Unemployment

Here are the seven things that you should do when unemployed:

1. Apply for Unemployment Benefits

You should claim your unemployment benefits if you have lost your job for no fault of your own. The US Department of Labor usually takes two weeks before they can give you the benefits which are after you file for a claim. While some states allow you to apply online or over the phone, while others require you to visit in person.

You will receive a determined amount based on formulas that vary by the state which is typically based on what you earned over the previous 52 weeks. For example, one of the common formulas that pay for half of what you earn with a cap that tied to your state’s average earnings.

In most states, you should be able to receive benefits for up to 26 weeks but there are programs that can extend this. Earlier, a federal program called the Emergency Unemployment Compensation offers additional benefits but it ended in December 2012. There are state and federal programs under Extended Benefits that provide 13 to 20 weeks of additional benefits to those exhausting state compensation. This program is available only in states where the unemployment rate is above the established threshold. This means that your state employment office can let you know if your state is part of the list. You should know that unemployment compensation is taxable.

2. Have an Unemployed Budget

Prior to the Great Recession, financial experts recommended saving three to six months of expenses as an emergency fund based on whether you would find a new job in that time. But since August this year, the US Department of Labor has stated that long-term unemployed made up 40 percent of the total unemployment rate. With these statistics, you would have to stretch your budget and make an emergency fund that will fund you longer than you wanted to. You should put your money on a survivor’s diet until you find another job. Here’s how:

a) You should first tally your savings and unemployment benefits and then divide the total into several months of income. This way you will know how much you spend in a month and survive for many months. You should aim to save this fund for more than a year.

b) Next, you should update your budget and look for ways for savings. You can choose to downgrade your electronics or internet packages and save yourself some money.

c) Take a look at what you are spending on and see what you can cut out on without losing your quality of life. You can cut out cable TV and swap it for Netflix and save money that way without losing track of your favorite shows.

d) Be smart and don’t pinch pennies. You should know that you cannot spend as you used to but don’t make it worse for yourself watching every penny when unemployed. You should look at ways to save money and use coupons when you can.

3. Start the Job Hunt

While there are several jobs in the market, there is strong competition and the job hunt takes time. Use these steps to get into action:

a) You should update your resume with some modern techniques to write your resume. You should note that you cannot make silly mistakes that should not come up on your resume.

b) Post your resume on job sites like Monster and Glassdoor. This will give potential employers access to your resume and contact you.

c) You should network both offline and online and let people know that you are looking out for a job. Tell people on social media that you are looking out for a job and search for jobs. Connect with previous colleagues, college classmates and potential employers that are there to help you get the job. Create a profile and start networking if you don’t already have a profile.

d) Clean up your online presence. You should hide or delete anything that you do not want your future boss to see.

e) Check out local resources like the US Department of Labor

4. Look for Temporary Work

You might have to hang out a little longer before you land your dream job but there are many part-time jobs that you can do now to bring a little cash. Some of these jobs include:

  • Seasonal employment: The holidays are coming up and retailers are looking for temporary workers.
  • Temporary jobs: There are plenty of employers looking for someone to work for a few weeks or a few months.
  • Side jobs: Going into an office isn’t the only way to make some cash.

5. Boost Your Savings

You should take inventory of everything that is in your house and see what you no longer use or use and make some extra cash by selling it. More expensive items like jewelry, you should sell online and for bigger things, you should use a garage sale as your best bet.

6. Keep to a schedule

A few days after losing a job, you would still wake up early and get things done. But then things start to slip up. Whether it’s waking up late, watching too much TV and feeling frazzled, you need to keep a schedule and stick to it. Once you get into the groove, you will be able to look for jobs, exercise and stop wasting time.

7. Don’t stop having fun

Most of your socialization happens at the office and this is why when you are at home, you might feel isolated. To keep from feeling disconnected, you can try these activities:

a) Volunteering is not only rewarding but its a great way to socialize, network and keep entertained. You can volunteer at places like a Soup Kitchen twice a week and this would get you out of the house and be within the company of people.

b) If you start a walking group there are chances that you might meet your neighbor and meet more people that could get you out of the house and burn calories.

c) You can also find a lot of free fun stuff to do like taking the kids to the park, catching a free concert or going to an art show.

Based on whatever you choose, you can make sure that you get the most out of it. Not only will it keep you busy but it can help you find your job even if it means visiting friends.

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  1. Filed for unemployment in Michigan almost a month ago. I am a cosmetologist, and left my place of employment because all they wanted to do is talk nasty about people who weren’t white, heterosexual, or Trump supporters. I had to listen to them blast racism on a daily basis. Also, I was discriminated against just for being a Vegan! I had dead animals shoved in my face. This place was EXTREMELY hostile! I think they are disputing it because it still says in progress – pending adjudication. Any tips for me? Thanks!

    • Josh,

      That is really the next level of harassment at the workplace! You made the right move by making an exit. As you might have guessed, the claim has been disputed by your employer. If they call you for a hearing, please keep supporting documents handy. Good luck!

  2. I have never had to file for unemployment benefits before. If I live in Maryland but worked in Delaware over the last 5 years, which state do I file a claim with?

  3. I am in NC and filed my claim on 10/15/18. To this day 1/25/19 I still have not received any kind of payment. I have letters indicating that the investigation process concluded that i was eligible for benefits. In a nutshell, I sold cars and was let go because I could not make my quota. This is what was given to DES and I was told it goes to the adjudication process which can take 4 to 6 weeks. That was back in the beginning of November.. When I call the agency, I get the runarounds. I ask to speak to a supervisor and have to leave voicemails to which THEY NEVER RESPOND!!! They act as if “NOBODY “ can speak with the Adjucator.. Is this person god almighty and no kind of supervisor can escalate this to find out whats going on? I have never waited this long to receive a payment.. Especially when I was told I should see my checks get deposited.. Whatcan a person do in these situations? Im borrowing money and still try to find work which is not easy at 51 since we have age discrimination…

    • Also in NC, Charlotte area. Unemployment here has never been that great, it definitely hasn’t gotten much better over the last few years. You may want to check out call center jobs, or more specifically health insurance caller centers. Those jobs are usually profitable if you pick a good company with a decent bonus structure. There is usually little to no age discrimination in these environments and your previous experience as a car salesman will add to your benefit. Just throwing out an opinion, good luck!

  4. Virginia…I have been taking care of an elderly friend..2 1/2 years out of my IT position…There was no pay check, just my bills paid and I took care of this a problem getting unemployment…he just passed away…I cannot find a job so all I can do is Door Dash…

  5. I was out plowing snow on the last huge snow storm. Got stuck in a snow drift and couldn’t get out. My boss told me “we’ll figure it out ronks rowing won’t b there till 9am that’s if they get rest tonight” the one guy I went to pull out with my salt truck was stuck from 10pm-3am when I got to him and then I got stuck. We sat their till 7am and as the Forman/manager I called my mom to come pick us both up. State plow trucks plowed us both in so we looked like huge snow drifts and we could of been nailed by passing state plow trucks “we were stuck on st. Rt. 30” or we could of fell asleep and died from carbon monoxide build up in the truck from it being snow covered and just sitting and running. We were also out in a level 3 plowing… called galion dispatch and they said NO we are not considered Emergency services and our boss put us in subject of arrest or fined…… can I file for unemployment even though I quit the job because I felt my life and health and co workers were in danger. My bosses wife was texting me saying things like “job abandonment” etc … making a ppr trail so I can’t file…. what should I do?. I have worked here for almost 2 years

    • Please file.don’t let people intimidate you. They can be held accountable for mistreating you. God bless you

    • Jason,

      You can be eligible to claim UI benefits if you left a job because of a hostile work environment. Please go ahead and file and make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  6. I am currently receiving unemployment in texas and my benefits is coming to an end and I still have not found a job can I apply for an extension.

    • Hello Andie,
      One of my friend is also in the same situation.
      He also wants extension.
      Please post if you followed Jessica’s suggestion and had any luck.

    • Andie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  7. I work for a car wash in Reno,NV. Now that its winter time can I file a claim to make up for the lack of hours I was accustomed to before winter. now granted the people in charge are always screaming we gotta keep labor down. To me the way they keep labor down is not giving the employees there schedueled breaks and making them punch out for an additional 30min. Now because of that I lose more than 10 hours per week. that’s affecting my pay check tremendously. So my question is can I file a claim to make up the difference and keep my job?

    • Henry,

      If you’re on the rolls of your employer (not on contract) and the employer remits unemployment taxes into the system, you can be eligible to claim partial UI benefits.

    • Stephen,

      You should have applied for benefits during the period of unemployment. You will not be able to claim in retrospect. Please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.


    • John,

      1099-G should be available for download on the Unemployment Office website. If not, please call the Claims Center for help.

  9. I worked in PA for the last 8 months and for 4 years in NJ before that. There was no break in employment. I was laid off yesterday from the PA job. I think I should apply in PA but how would I make sure that wages from both states are accounted for?

    • Please go ahead and file from PA. The verification should include employment and earnings in the last 4-5 calendar quarters.

  10. I have been on unemployment since July 2018. I will receive my first SS check in January 2019. Will this affect my unemployment payment?

    • It will. Please make sure to report the income to the Unemployment Office. You can call the Claims Center on how you can do so.

  11. Can you file for unemployment benefits if you are excepted during a shutdown and requird to work without pay?

  12. I worked in Maryland for 5 years and was on Maryland unemployment for a month before finding another job and should still have an active Maryland claim there. The new company I work for is based in Virginia and I started in early November until the government shutdown in late Dec. Should I file a new claim in Virginia or continue with Maryland UE? Also I picked up a part time job on weekends 3 weeks ago averaging about 18 hours. How would that work?

    • Matt,

      Since you’ve already filed a claim in Maryland, please wait for a determination to be made. You should report the income from the part-time job to the Unemployment Office. Please call the Claims Center.

    • Ralph,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  13. I worked in Washington State in January, 2017 to March, 2018. I worked in Montana from March, 2018 to March, 2019 My residence is in Washington State. Which state do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?

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