Top 10 Unemployment Survival Tips

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Last updated April 12, 2019

As a site that helps you sell your old cell phones, we like to think that if you are unemployed we help get you cash from old, unused handsets. There are, of course, other ways to help you make and save money if you are unemployed.


So we are going to take you through a number of steps that you can take not only to survive but to continue to live relatively comfortably.

You should, of course, apply for unemployment benefits, but that is a short-lived option, assuming that you qualify. Getting laid off from AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps service, for example, does not qualify you for unemployment benefits. Here are some realistic, practical options most Americans can take advantage of:

1. Apply for food stamps. Okay, maybe you never thought that you would resort to that option but this is not the time to be proud or idealistic. Food stamps are meant to help you stay on your feet until you can re-establish yourself financially.

2. Go back to school. College is a wonderful place to ride out a bad economy, especially if you are single. Even if you are married, it is still a good idea. Don’t, by the way, be afraid to apply for student loans. Money left over from financial aid (after paying for tuition) can help pay your bills; you can also use financial aid for room and board.

3. Which of your valuable possessions can you sell or hock? Maybe you were waiting to use those coins, baseball cards, original Barbie dolls, etc., for retirement, hoping that they would increase in value with time. Well, your immediate needs take precedence; you can always start collecting things again when the economy gets better.

4. File lawsuits against those who owe you or who have harmed you in some way. Like it or not, a lawsuit if often the only way we can compel some people and organizations to do the right thing. Make a list of all those parties against whom you may have a legal claim (landlords that didn’t give you your full deposit back, people that haven’t paid back what they owe you, that ignoramus that rear-ended you and left you with back problems, etc.).

5. Apply for disability benefits, if you qualify. Some people who may have qualified for benefits did not apply in the past, either because they did not need the assistance or because they were able to work in spite of their disability. If you are one of these people, you can start receiving the help you now need. You may also have a condition that you did not know possibly qualifies for benefits (severe cases of depression, mild stage schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, severe obesity, etc.).

6. Consider creating your own job. Some people get intimidated by the idea of starting a business (erroneously thinking that it always requires a huge investment) but they forget that many home businesses can be started for little or no money. You may, for example, start to baby-sit for people’s pets, children or empty property; you can also run errands for busy professionals.

7. Consider work abroad. You might, for example, teach English in places like China, Korea, Japan, Brazil, etc. This may mean having to leave your family for a time but it may also help you to not only survive unemployment but to leave it behind altogether (if you decide to turn your new job into a career).

8. Do some paid volunteer work. This will probably not provide as well as a full-time job but it is one way to bring in some money while at the same time possibly get your foot in the door for a job in the future within the organization in question. You should also consider doing unpaid volunteer work, which can also sometimes lead to a job.

9. Cut back on expenses in every conceivable way. Even if you have some savings to fall back on, consider drastically cutting your living budget to a minimum. Apply for “Lifeline” cell phones, for example, if you get food stamps or Medicaid; they are free to qualified households. Trade in your big car for a compact; get a “Magic Jack” to replace your present home phone service; reduce eating out and entertainment; etc.

10. Reduce your housing expenses. Consider, for example, sharing a house/apartment with other people, moving into subsidized housing, or even moving into a hotel so you can take advantage of their monthly rates. This last option is usually cheaper than any apartment you might get. A hotel room includes most utilities, regular changed sheets and room cleanup, furniture, and a few other amenities, all for one flat fee (not involving a long-commitment lease).