The search for a new job can be stressful, especially if you’ve got bills to pay and a family to look after. While you are on the hunt for your next job, be sure to keep to a strict budget to make sure your emergency fund lasts until your next job starts. Here are some of the best ways you can survive without income and manage your money between jobs.
Cut Your Transportation Costs
The cheapest (and healthiest) ways to get around are cycling and by foot. If you don’t already have a bike the expense might sound like a lot, but with gas and maintenance you might make your money back in less than a month. Take a look at Craigslist for a cheap commuter bike for sale. You can often find one for less than $100. If you are able to go completely without, you might be able to save as much as $100 per month on insurance (or more depending on your policy) and $50-$100 per month on gas. That $150, or even just a couple of months of fill-ups, can cover the cost of the bike. Or just walk if you live in an urban area for free.
Stick to a Budget
Your finances are likely to be pretty limited until you find work, so don’t just spend as you go without thinking about the future. You’ll need to set a budget and stick to it while in between jobs. Budgeting used to be a lot of work, but with free online tools like Personal Capital or Mint, you can track your budget for free online without doing much work. If you are new to tracking your finances, PowerWallet is free and offers great advice to get you started budgeting. Your first budget doesn’t have to be super detailed or complicated.
Your budget can simply list out high level categories like rent, bills, food, transportation, entertainment, and everything else. Your budget should assign all costs to one of those buckets and you can track it against a goal. Make sure enough money is set aside to cover your essential monthly costs before you spend anything on things you don’t really need. Every penny counts when you are living without an income.
Remember that a budget while you are working is different from managing your money between jobs. After you find your next gig, you can adjust your budget to fit your new income.
Save Money Where You Can
Coupons can save you a lot of money on spending you have to do, like groceries and personal care items. You can find coupons in the newspaper or at popular coupon websites. My favorite coupon tool is the free Chrome plugin Honey, which searches for coupons on purchases you are about to make online.
The easiest way to save, though, is by cutting your spending. Really think about each purchase before you spend the money. Only buy what you really need and hold off on wants until you have income again. You’ll be surprised how much you can really cut if you put your mind to it.
The best way to get by is to earn more. Even if you have a full time job right now, you can always earn more on the side. I make money on weekends and evenings in my web design, freelance writing, and social media management business. I also have a business that runs flash mobs. Combined I make more than $1,000 each month on the side.
Even if you make $5,000 or $20,000 each month, earning more on the side is always an option and something that can help you out if you ever get the dreaded pink slip.
This post was originally published on December 27, 2010 and updated on June 4, 2020.