Help! I Need to Know What to Do When Unemployment Benefits Run Out!

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Unemployment Benefits are Running Out

In Massachusetts, thirty thousand unemployed men and women recently lost their unemployment benefits when their unemployment benefits ran out (The Patriot Ledger, July 12, 2010). Another news story in the Nashville News (July 21, 2010) gives good news to those who are out of work and out of benefits - President Obama is supposed to sign a bill restoring unemployment benefits to thousands of Americans. However, this bill will take some time to be put back into commission. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Americans are wondering what to do when unemployment benefits run out.

If you’re unemployed and you’re worried about what to do when you can no longer claim unemployment, you’re in the right place. Even if your benefits have run out, here are some tips to help you get back on your feet.

1. Pinch Every Penny

When you’re already on unemployment, you don’t have much extra to spend. Now’s the time to make a list of your essential expenses. What has to be paid or else? House payment or rent, electric, etc. Try to keep up on insurance if you have it. Make a budget for every possible required expense, every possible emergency expense, etc.

Cut everything back to the bare minimum. Food is a necessity as well. You can use freecycle to get household goods and clothes. Try to come up with a solution for each of these categories. Find out what services you can qualify for assistance for, how to qualify, and what to do.

2. Know Your Emergency Resources

Here is a brief list of services that may benefit you:

  • If you have a mortgage, contact the lender as soon as possible. Ideally, you will contact them as soon as you lose your job. Often, if you call before trouble hits, they will work with you on a solution. You can also try looking into one of many emergency mortgage service companies. Before you use any of these services, please do background research.
  • If you are renting, contact your landlord as soon as possible. Your landlord is more likely to be understanding if you contact him or her before disaster hits and if he or she knows what’s going on. Additionally, there are organizations that help with rent in an emergency. Look into them now, and have a list ready.
  • Electric bill help is available from a variety of places. Contact your electric company (and phone company, water company, etc.) and find out about their low income programs and get on them. Additionally, contact your local Salvation Army. They have emergency relief funds.
  • Food is going to be an issue. If you can, there is no shame in getting food stamps if you need them. If you have children under the age of 6, are pregnant, or nursing, you can get WIC benefits - this means free healthy food.
  • As mentioned above, Freecycle and Craigslist are great ways to find things you need for free or low cost. Also, frequent garage sales and thrift stores if you need items like clothing or cooking implements. You can find an awesome deal.
  • Organizations like ModestNeeds.Org.can help you out with emergency funding.
  • Check your local church, food pantry, synagogue, and homeless shelters. While you might not need a shelter now, it’s good to know what you need to do.

3. Don’t Stop Trying to Bring in an Income

While you’re waiting for an interview or to be hired, be innovative. The economy has changed a lot in the last several years. If you have a special talent for graphic design, web design, writing, etc., you can freelance or serve as a consultant. This will also help you to build your resume.What services can you provide, with what you have now, tomorrow? Post an ad offering your services on Craigslist. Check out their gigs section too. Often you can find something you can do for extra cash. You can also create an income by going through your home and selling things you no longer need.

4. Keep Your Head Up

Even if you are in dire straights, keep your head up. It’s hard enough without giving into depression from job loss. Also, don’t forget to fill out an extension if you’re reaching the end of your unemployment period. Finally, surround yourself with positive people. Just as negativity and depression are contagious, so are happiness and other positive emotions.

Hang in there!