6 Ways to Fight Unemployment with Productivity
Life doesn’t stop once you are out of a job. You still have to pay rent and utility bills, eat healthy, finance your mortgage, fuel your car, pay your student loans, and repay outstanding debts among a myriad of other bills. Unemployment is a tough phase which you cannot just wish away. Neither can you fully count on the government to take away your troubles; you have to step up and fight it.
I used to work in a leading consultancy firm as a midlevel manager before I got laid off at the beginning of 2016. I was among over 200 employees to fall victims to the company’s restructuring. Being just 28 years old, I thought my career stars had finally aligned until life happened. Yes, together with other laid off staff, I was given a send-off package, but still, my financial charts weren’t as promising. With my then 3-year-old daughter, Denise under my care, a mortgage loan to pay, and a queue of other outstanding bills, the future looked bleak. Being a single mom didn’t make the situation any easier.
Necessity is the mother of invention. I had to adapt to my new normal or risk perishing and for the sake of Denise, that was not an option. Armed with a strong academic background and slight tact, I vowed to reverse the trajectory of my life for the better; the pressures of unemployment notwithstanding.
Having accepted the situation at hand, I put my frustrations aside and utilized the following productive methods to fight unemployment.

6 Ways to Fight Unemployment with Productivity

1. Reducing My Expenses

With the mentality that every penny is valuable, I made a list of all my expenses and identified the ones which could be reduced and those that could be eliminated.
  • Reduced my energy cost.
Considering cooling and heating made up a large proportion of my energy costs, I focused on them a lot. I set my thermostat to 68 degrees to ensure that my heating system used less energy. I discovered that I already had a programmable thermostat and just needed to start using it!
I reduced my water heating bill by using less hot water (and made sure my showerheads and faucets were high-efficiency products), insulating the water heater and turning down the water heater thermostat, and using cold water for washing clothes.
Additionally, I ensured the efficiency of my air filtration system. I replaced my furnace filters regularly because dirty ones reduce airflow. This leads to an overworked heating component hence increasing the energy costs.
  • Discontinuation of discretionary expenditure
I was paying for a lot of unnecessary services. I canceled my magazine subscriptions, non-functional credit cards which attracted an annual fee, and extra phone services. Though I couldn’t quite pull the plug on cable and internet, I did shop around for the best deals.
  • Reducing long distance calls
Before getting laid off, I used to make frequent calls to my friends and relatives in China and Africa. These fees really added up. I switched to using free apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, so I could talk to them as much as I liked over Wi-Fi.
  • Negotiating with my creditors
Fortunately, my good credit record came to the rescue. After talking to my creditors and explaining my strained financial situation, the interest rates on my credit cards were reduced. I managed to convince them to reduce my monthly loan payments at least temporarily.

2. Selling My Car

Cars are expensive to maintain and drive, so I got rid of it! It was a tricky decision to sell my vehicle, because of how convenient is to have a car. But, with a little extra planning, it has saved me tons of money. Instead of driving Denise to school, I send her away on the school bus every morning and I found a temporary job that was only a bus ride from our home.
I used the money from selling my car to repay part of my mortgage. Selling the car rendered my garage vacant. This was another opportunity to be exploited. I leased the space to a local wholesaler who had challenges finding extra warehousing space!

3. Securing a Temporary Health Insurance

After losing my job, I lost my health insurance, as well. Therefore, I had to pay out of pocket costs, which can get incredibly expensive.
Under unemployment, I applied for a subsidized health coverage, which is a provision of the Affordable Care Act. I got a temporary health cover which required me to pay smaller premiums while still trying to recover.
[RELATED: How To Turn Your Unemployment Into a Gift]

4. Getting a Temporary Job

When my daughter was in school during the day, I worked as a part-time management consultant in a medium-sized IT company around town. The business wasn’t as profitable, and thus, my paycheck wasn’t as fat either, but at least, I could get some supplemental income. The job, though not as high flying as my previous one, gave me experience, which will hopefully come in handy for my future job hunt.
Additionally, the job kept me occupied as opposed to staying in the house worrying and wishing. Keeping busy gave me clarity and perspective with regards to my future plans.

5. Selling My Stuff Online

After losing my job, I noticed a lot of ‘stuff’ laying around the house collecting dust. I identified carpets, extra furniture, Denise’s old toys, a mini-fridge, and an old but fully functioning television that I could sell. After creating an inventory of the things I no longer needed, I took high-quality photos and posted them on Craigslist and LetGo.
While I was selling stuff, I made sure to meet the prospective buyers in public places or had a friend come to my home at the arranged time. You can never be too careful!

6. Investing in My Skills and Talents

I know that eventually, I’ll run out of household items to sell and my temp job will no longer cover all my expenses. But, I still try to set aside time and money to invest in myself. I started studying for the Project Management Professional® (PMP) to be more marketable in the industry. I also joined a few networking groups through MeetUp.
During this trying time, I think that remaining positive and productive has been one of my biggest assets. It’s easy to get down after losing your job, but remember that you are in charge of your destiny. You can’t rely on a company or the government to lend you a helping help. The power rests within yourself.

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