As millions of Americans continue to be on unemployment with no end in sight, making unemployment benefits stretch to pay for everything can be difficult. If you’re on unemployment benefits and can’t seem to pay all your bills or make your money go further, follow some of these quick tips and you’ll realize quickly how far your unemployment money can go.
1.Cable TV – If you still have cable TV and are having trouble paying for it, call your cable company and reduce your service to the bare minimum. Sure, you might not have 10 movie channels and a bunch of sports stuff but, honestly, you don’t really need it and cutting your cable service to basic channels can really make your unemployment money stretch.
2. Cook Ramen Noodles – Now, we all know Ramen noodles aren’t always the healthiest thing to eat, but they are cheap. You can however make them quite healthy by what you add into the noodle mix. There are hundreds of good, and cheap, Ramen noodle ideas but here’s one of my favorites. It feeds four people, it’s healthy, fast to make and will help make your unemployment benefits go further.
Put two packets of shrimp Ramen noodles and all the spices into a pot with water and cook for 4 minutes. When the noodles are just about cooked, add half a head of cabbage and a small packet of shrimp (Trader Joe’s and other supermarkets sell packs of shrimp that will be enough for 5 meals for just a few dollars). Cook for 2 more minutes, turn off the heat, put into bowls and add bean sprouts and some chopped chives. Serve. Cheap, delicious and filling and less than $1 per person.
3. Barter – Another great way to make your unemployment money go further is to barter. If you need something like someone to write your resume, somebody to fix your kitchen faucet, or even fresh vegetables, advertise on Craig’s List for somebody who has what you need and is willing to barter services. Think about what you can do or what you have to offer and offer those services in exchange for what you want. With so many people being unemployed, you’d be surprised how many will take you up on it.
4. Shop at the Dollar Store – Don’t forget to shop at the Dollar Store or one of similar stores throughout the country. When I was unemployed, I used to get canned goods, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, spices, fruit juice, milk and lots of other items at my local Dollar Store. With prices being $1 or cheaper, you can often get groceries and other items at 50% the cost of your local supermarket. Plus, don’t feel bad about going, When I used to shop there I was always surprised at how many BMWs were parked in the parking lot. Rich people save money too.
5. Get a Prepaid Mobile Phone – My parents recently ditched their expensive AT&T monthly cell phone plan and bought a prepaid mobile phone instead. Rather than paying a huge fixed fee every month for a phone you may not use that much, buy a prepaid phone at Rite-Aid or any number of other stores and and buy some credit to put on it. You’ll be surprised how much money you save when you only pay for calls you really need to make. Having a cell phone can be vital for someone receiving unemployment benefits and who is looking for a job, but it doesn’t have to be costly.
6. Turn down thermostat 2-3 degrees – Many unemployed Americans still waste money on heat and air conditioning. Go right now to your thermostat and turn it down by just 2-3 degrees for the heat and up by 2-3 degrees for air conditioning. Just that small change in temperature can save you hundreds of dollars a year and, honestly, you won’t even notice the difference.
7. Unplug Electronics – When you’re not using your electronics, unplug them. TVs, radios, kettles, microwaves, computers, everything electronic – if it’s plugged in and you’re not using it, pull the plug out. Electronics on ‘stand-by’ use a lot of electricity. Just three months ago, I started to unplug everything whenever I wasn’t using it and, the next month, my electricity bill immediately went down by $20.
8. Close Vents – If you’re not in a room and have the heat or airconditioning on in the house, close the vents in all the rooms you’re not using. Heating and air-conditioning rooms you’re not using is a huge waste of money and can cause your electricity or gas bill to go up by hundreds of dollars a year.
9. Change Bank Accounts – Check out your bank fees and shop around for free checking, cheap ATM fees and anything else other banks offer that your bank may be charging for. Just saving $6 a month on checking fees is $72 a year. It all adds up and makes your unemployment benefits go further.
10. Cancel Magazine Subscriptions – Don’t renew magazine subscriptions. They’re a waste of money particularly when you can look at magazines at your local library or borrow books for free.
11. Get Netflix – If you’re spending any money on entertainment, stop spending it and get a membership to Netflix instead. For only $15 a month, you can rent two movies at a time – movies that will be mailed to you at home, so you’re also saving money on gas driving to the video store and money on other entertainment costs. For just $15 a month, you can rent and see at least 25 movies a month, only about 65 cents per movie and cheap entertainment for the whole family.
12. Treat Yourself Once a Week – Finally, when you’re unemployed, don’t completely deprive yourself of little treats. Once a week, treat you and your family (if you have one) to a small treat. A Dairy Queen ice cream cone, a McDonald’s apple pie, tickets to a cheap museum, anything that will give you a little happiness but doesn’t cost much money. Because, let me tell you, if you deprive yourself of every joy in life while you’re unemployed, not only will you be incredibly depressed but you’ll end up spending money on things you don’t need anyway, just to tray to make yourself happier.
Follow these few easy tips and you’ll soon see your unemployment benefits stretching further. In times of economic trouble, it is possible to save money. Plus, remember, you’re not alone. Millions of other people are on unemployment benefits and going through a hard time too. It will get better, it always does.