Maintaining Motivation While Unemployed

Unemployment can take a toll on your emotions as well as your finances. Now is the time to attack your situation with a well-formulated plan. The following approaches will help you when you find yourself concerned about your financial and personal situation.

To help keep your stress level down, your confidence up, and your health and relationships strong, you should develop some special strategies while you are unemployed, such as:

  • Establish a daily schedule including a regular time for job search activities. Make a goal of sending out at least one resume each day.
  • Set daily goals that you know you can accomplish. Go for a walk, go to the library, call a friend.
  • Use your networks. Tell everyone you know what kind of work you are looking for, and ask if they know of any jobs or any companies that employ people with your skills. Your friends, relatives and acquaintances may not think of mentioning contacts to you because they don't have a clear idea of what kind of work you are looking for. Remember, many people get their jobs through "word of mouth."
  • Read some books or take a workshop on stress management techniques. Everyone is under extra stress when unemployed, and you could save yourself and your family from additional emotional strain if you learn some effective stress management skills. Your local library or Job Placement Center may offer these types of seminars free of charge.
  • If you are in the Northern California area, plan to attend an Empowered for Success seminar the 3rd Sunday of each month. The April 19th seminar was powerful as Belinda Bush spoke on the topic of Principles of Vision (Part I). For more information or to register for the May event log onto
  • Volunteer to help someone else. Both of you will feel better. You remember what your Mom always said; “It is better to give than to receive” Give of yourself!
  • Keep busy and stay active outside your home. Isolating yourself at home will not get you a new job and can lead to additional mental and emotional stress.
  • Reward yourself on a regular basis for your efforts.
  • Before you go to bed, prepare a written plan for the next day. It will give you a reason to get up in the morning.
  • Pursue the hobby you always wanted but never seemed to have time for.
  • Check into new career opportunities or the possibility of continuing your education.
  • Keep regular hours, and get regular exercise.

Whether you have a family to care for or just yourself, surviving unemployment can be an emotionally difficult task. There's no magic pill for generating cash when a steady paycheck disappears. But there are strategies for saving cash. The key to survival is to focus on necessary costs and cut out frivolous expenditures. Here are 5 common sense tips that will help alleviate financial stress while not employed and will engage smart financial habits so that when you regain employment you will have practiced frugal spending habits.

1. Revisit your Personal Budget – While employed, your personal budget may have focused on short-and long-term goals such as planning a summer vacation or saving for a child's college tuition, but now your budget should focus on only short term goals regarding your daily living necessities. Rework your budget to only include essential expenses such as food, clothing, housing, transportation and health care. To help you get started, write down every payment you absolutely must make to survive --- that is, rent or mortgage payment, food, car payment and health insurance.

It is also important to protect your credit during this difficult time. Since you don't know how long you might be without a job, you may want to be proactive and contact any creditors who might allow deferral of payment until you can secure regular employment. For instance, school loan providers often will extend a grace period in case of emergency.

2. Get Out the Cookbook – By preparing meals at home, you can dramatically cut costs. The 2008 Consumer Expenditure Summary Report states the average family spent $2,904 on away from home food. This creates a huge savings opportunity. Take advantage of coupons and specials, and try to ignore brands and fancy labels when shopping at the supermarket. The annual summer Farmers Markets will open soon and they provide a healthier and less expensive option for fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, it is always nice to chat with the people that grow the food. There are a number of websites offering easy at-home meal planning and ideas for creating low-budget, healthy home-cooked meals. On Friday’s here at Zest of Life, we post money-saving delicious recipes that the entire family will enjoy.

3. Cut Out Credit Card Spending – Using credit cards can often lead to poor spending habits – something you can't afford, especially when you have no income coming in. Remove the temptation by removing your credit cards from your wallet and placing them in a safe place like a desk drawer. By avoiding credit card spending, you can more easily track where your money is going and where you can eliminate unnecessary spending.

4. Create a Cushion – It is important to set aside money for emergencies. You should put away as much as possible, but at least enough to cover an emergency like having an unexpected car expense. The important thing to remember is to make sure you can cover all of your necessary expenses and have a reserve for an emergency. A fun hands-on way for kids to participate and learn good money saving skills is to have them hunt for loose change around the house and in the car and collect it in a bottle or jar. By including the entire family, everyone can learn from and feel good about making good money management choices.

5. Drive Less – With gas prices continuing to rise, carpooling or use of public transportation can help you cut your expenses. Since you will be searching for a job, you may need to drive to interviews, so save your gas money for these critically important trips. If you must drive, save gas and time by planning trips in advance and combine your trips whenever possible.

Plan your meals for an entire week and make one trip to the grocery store instead of sporadically throughout the week. Also, if you need to make multiple stops, plan the best route so you are not driving all over town.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can greatly reduce your monthly costs and easily manage your budget between jobs. By being creative and committing to trimming down costs, surviving between jobs is possible. Just think if you saved all of the money spent on coffee runs, vending machines, movies and late fees, you would probably have a small fortune.

The key is to be creative in the ways you cut back and to analyze all aspects of your spending trends to see where you can save money while maintaining basic needs and protecting your credit as much as possible.