Ways to Save When You’re Unemployed

Unemployment can be a scary situation, especially if you are a recent graduate with little work experience and a mountain of student loan debt. Fortunately, there are ways to save money even while you are unemployed. Here are some suggestions to cut down on spending so you can continue to pay off your debt or keep yourself afloat while you look for a new job.

Is it a want or a need?

The golden rule when looking at your budget: if you don’t need it, don’t pay for it.  Unfortunately, it can be easy to blur the line between things we think we need and the things we want.

So what is a need?


According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary a need is “a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism.” So at its most basic, when you are devising a budget you can think of a need as something that will help you to survive like food and shelter.

Some ideas for saving on your survival needs:

  • Don’t just clip coupons, use them on things you already buy on a regular basis.
  • Avoid high end grocery stores. You can often find the same products at more economic places.
  • Visit the Farmer’s Market to find good, fresh produce on the cheap.
  • If you don’t have a roommate, consider getting one. Even renting out your spare bedroom for a couple months can cut down your expenses.
  • Cut down on utilities by wearing more or less clothing when you are at home.

Maybe it’s a want, maybe not.

As for the psychological requirements for a person’s well-being, this is where budgeting can get a little tricky. You want to maintain a positive attitude during your unemployment, in order to maintain good mental health and continue your job search. The problem is determining what you need to be happy.  A simple way to do this is to think in terms of activities you enjoy doing as opposed to things you would like to own.

Some ideas to entertain yourself on the cheap:

  • Go for a run. Get out in nature and avoid paying those hefty gym fees.
  • Unsubscribe from any service you don’t use or magazine you don’t read.
  • Go to the library and check out a book you have always wanted to read.
  • Look for free events in your community where you and your friends can participate.
  • Instead of going out to eat in the evening, organize a potluck with friends.

Tackle the bigger expenses.

If cutting down your daily expenses isn’t enough to keep you going, try taking some bigger steps. Before dropping any of your bills, remember to always pay the minimum required amounts on credit cards and student loans. Depending on your situation, you may have the option to defer your student loans or receive unemployment until you find a job.

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