How to Manage Money In-Between Jobs: Budgeting Tips for the Unemployed

Losing a job sucks; there’s no doubt about it. When life gets someone down and leaves them jobless, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be penniless as well. It’s all a matter of preparation, organization, and budgeting. Being in-between jobs doesn’t have to ruin someone financially.

Planning Ahead

Sure, most people don’t see it coming, as losing a job can be quite swift and surprising. However, although blindsided, they shouldn’t be unprepared. A responsible adult should always have some money set aside, just in case. 

These emergency funds are there to bail people out during rainy days because, as everyone knows, when it rains, it pours. That means that the average Joe who lost his job will probably come home to find his water heater broken, his bills due, and his dog sick.

It might not be that dire, but it’s still a wise idea to prepare oneself for a disaster of losing a job. Of course, having an emergency fund that will cover rent, utilities, and food doesn’t mean one can sit idly and wait for work to fall in their lap. 

Starting the Job Search Immediately

Feeling down and demoralized after losing a job is entirely normal. However, the best thing anyone can do is pick themselves back up. Sure, it sounds like the corniest cliche ever, but that doesn’t make it any less true. 

Therefore, one of the best budgeting tips for the unemployed is to start looking for a new job immediately. That should go without saying, but some people feel the need to dwell on their failures (or at least what they perceive as failures), so it bears repeating.

Looking for a new job is a vital step toward getting back on your feet. In fact, one should make searching for employment their new full-time job. In other words, since they don’t have anything else to do during the day, they might as well be productive. They can work on their resumes, scour the internet for job listings, and generally take the job search seriously. 

Finding a Temporary Job

When a person is in-between jobs, they shouldn’t solely rely on their emergency funds. Sooner or later, that money will dry out. In fact, that will probably happen really quickly. 

Therefore, the second of the budgeting tips for the unemployed is to find another source of income. For some people, unemployment compensation might be a sound option. Of course, not everyone is eligible, but people should always check before they write off this option entirely. 

Of course, another excellent option is to find a temporary job or a side hustle. People who have marketable skills can freelance, work online, or offer their services part-time. Any source of income will be helpful when people are in-between jobs. 

Now, the people who are waiting for the right opportunity and the perfect job that will help them develop their careers further aren’t necessarily wrong. However, they also shouldn’t wait for that golden opportunity by sitting on their behinds and twiddling their thumbs.

Investing Into a New Skill

People in-between jobs are undoubtedly qualified for positions similar to those they left behind. But why limit themselves? Unemployment may take a while, which means that the person who’s currently unemployed has quite a bit of time on their hands. 

That’s the perfect scenario for learning a new skill. Job hunting is a stressful, cutthroat ordeal, so everyone should put their best foot forward. Learning a new skill can help the hopeful job seeker to actually get invited to an interview. 

Still, before anyone dives head-first into learning new skills, they should first deal with the essential — money. Losing a job means losing income, which, in turn, means that money will be tight. If people aren’t careful, it might push them into debt.

Tracking Expenses

People should track their expenses regardless of their employment status. Knowing what they spend money on is paramount for budgeting. But it becomes even more vital when people are in-between jobs. 

Therefore, one of the best budgeting tips for the unemployed is to keep a cautious eye on each and every expense.

That’s the only way to manage money and not go completely broke while on the hunt for a new job. People who have no idea what they spend their paychecks on are in for a rude awakening once these stop coming. 

See Where You’re Spending Your Money

Once the person in-between jobs tracks and analyzes their expenses, they should make a reasonable spending plan. Once they pay the rent, bills, utilities, and groceries, they need to know how much they have left and what they’ll do with it. 

There are several categories in every budget that don’t cover the “bare necessities,” and it’s essential that everyone knows not only what they are, but also which ones will suffer the most due to budget cuts.

See Where You Can Cut Back

Budgeting tips for the unemployed are all about cost-cutting. That means that budgeting has one goal — not to cover all budgeting categories, but to save as much money as possible.

Here are the best ways to do that.

Everything Must Go

Cutting costs when budgeting while in-between jobs means that all non-essentials have to go. It’s not easy, but no one said it would be. 

What’s more, it’s not just the non-essentials that the unemployed have to cut on. They should also be mindful of how much money they spend each month on bills, rent, etc.

Cutting the Bills

Cutting down on the bills means, for example, keeping an eye on how much water and electricity people are wasting. By being mindful of long hot baths, leaky faucets, and long-forgotten hall lights that stay turned on for the entire night, people might be able to cut their monthly bills a bit. 

What’s more, other expenses can also be tackled similarly or eliminated altogether. An unemployed person might argue that they need their Netflix account more than an employed person, but that’s just another monthly cost they can no longer afford. 

Therefore, when in-between jobs, people should cancel all unnecessary subscriptions. So people should say goodbye to Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and other platforms, as well as gym memberships (that they don’t even use) and expensive phone and internet bills.

Entertainment on a Budget

Cooking is a hassle, and eating out is so convenient. However, eating out or going for drinks, paying club entry and parking fees, and other expenses that have to do with entertainment are merely black holes that will blow through people’s budgets in the blink of an eye. 


Vacation might take someone’s mind off of their current issues, but they’re also financially burdening. Traveling costs a lot of money that unemployed people don’t have. Even those who think they can travel on a tight budget are mistaken. 

Traveling and vacationing requires funds — airplane or bus tickets, as well as hotels and even hostels, are expensive. That money will be better used if redirected to another budgeting category (such as food or rent). Staycations are the only real possibility for people in-between jobs, and elaborate trips will simply have to wait for a more financially prosperous time.

Using Alternate Transportation

People often forget that having a car (and especially multiple cars) is a luxury. Owning a car and using it frequently will be quite taxing on a person’s budget. Not only does gas cost an arm and a leg, but the vehicle also requires regular insurance payments. 

Therefore, another of the brilliant budgeting tips for the unemployed is to find alternate means of transportation. If the household has two workers and two vehicles, putting one in the garage (preferably the one that guzzles more gas and has a steeper insurance rate) will save some money. That will free up some funds and make the now one-or-no income household less financially strained.

So sharing one car, using public transport, driving a bike, or even walking are the budget-friendly alternatives to actively using one or two cars. 

Quitting Expensive Habits

Everyone has a habit or two that’s costing them way too much money. Realistically, people who are in-between jobs should think of everything that isn’t food and shelter as a luxury. But that’s not how human nature works. Everyone thinks they are entitled to so much more than they actually need, which is a huge downfall when a person is in-between jobs.

Still, people who are operating on a tight budget while searching for work should put all their expensive habits on paper and decide which ones they can live without. Smokers and those who indulge in expensive alcohol need to really rethink their budgeting, given that their habits are a waste of money at that point in their lives.

There are more benefits to quitting expensive habits than merely saving money. Sure, that’s one of the priorities, but it’s not the only perk. All these costly hang-ups (smoking, drinking, doing recreational drugs, etc.) can make people feel better and less stressed out at the moment. However, in the long run, they are nothing but depressants that will make a hard situation even more mentally taxing.


Just because groceries are one of the essentials doesn’t mean that people should buy them willy-nilly. When money is tight, buying expensive food or unnecessary items isn’t advised anymore – at least not for those with a reasonable spending plan.

Groceries that are on sale or that can be bought with a coupon or a discount are an incredible money-saving tip. However, people who don’t want to spend any more money than necessary should also have carefully-planned shopping trips. Shopping without a plan (and a checklist) isn’t the greatest idea, given that it will probably be more costly.

Furthermore, buying things in bulk might give a higher final bill, but it will be profitable in the long run. However, people should also keep in mind that buying things on sale can be a slippery slope. Seeing that something is on sale often gives them the impression that they are saving money. Thus, they might find themselves buying things they don’t really need just because they are affordable. That’s where the shopping list will come in handy. 


Not many people know how to take advantage of all money-saving opportunities because they don’t even see some of them as realistic options. When it comes to rent, most people have the attitude “it is what it is,” which isn’t necessarily true.

One of the best budgeting tips for the unemployed is to try to negotiate prices of everything. Negotiating isn’t the same as asking for charity (which makes a lot of people uncomfortable). It’s all about presenting facts in an honest manner and asking for a helping hand. 

For example, those who can’t make rent one month might try to negotiate with their landlord to allow them to split the rent into two or three payments. Although skeptical at first, many will find others to be understanding and willing to make compromises.

The same goes for mortgages. People in a financial pinch should reach out to their loan officers and try to negotiate a lower interest rate or a lower payment. Alternatively, they should look into refinancing as an option as well.

Creative Cost-Cutting and Saying No

When people live with a limited budget, they have to get creative. That means finding alternate solutions to things that were an everyday occurrence. Some of the most innovative ways to save money that aren’t difficult to execute are:

  • Meal prepping
  • Preparing food in bulk
  • Drinking water instead of sodas
  • Getting library books instead of buying them
  • Making gifts instead of buying them
  • Store hopping and price comparing
  • Buying used stuff (when possible)
  • Avoiding well-known brands
  • Using cost-free events or cheap activities for entertainment/date night
  • Carpooling
  • Cutting and styling hair at home
  • DIY car maintenance
  • Using hand-me-downs

These are some of the ideas that one can turn to when the time for cost-cutting comes. However, it’s also crucial that everyone learns to say, “no.”

Many people have that dreadful fear of missing out, which drives them to agree to everything, even when they can’t afford it. Those in-between jobs should be especially mindful of this. Saying no doesn’t make a person less fun or less sociable. It just means that they are realistic about their means and financial capabilities. 

Not Everything Should Be Cut

Although saving money is paramount, people shouldn’t cut everything out. Some things (that aren’t food and shelter) they simply shouldn’t go without. 

Cutting corners when it comes to essential things such as insurance can be detrimental for a budget in the long run. For example, medical emergencies don’t really care that a person is between jobs and had to stop their insurance payments. And, as already mentioned, when it rains, it pours. 

Therefore, people in-between jobs shouldn’t test faith and rely on luck to save them from potential mishaps. They should instead take care of themselves, even if that means spreading an already thin budget even thinner.

Scheduling Payments

Staying on budget is hard. Even when people use a strict plan or an envelope system, they can find themselves without money for something they thought they could afford. Scheduling payments, or, better said, making a new payment schedule that takes a person’s new employment status into consideration, is one of the best budgeting tips for the unemployed. 

People should create a new payment plan to avoid both missing a significant payment and making one that’s no longer necessary or affordable. That means making reminders (or alarms) for all essential bills (rent, utilities, grocery shopping) and canceling those that aren’t vital (like magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, etc.).

Managing Debt

Just because a person lost their job doesn’t mean they can forget all about their debt. Any debt, be it a student or credit card debt, cannot sit idly and wait until the person gets back up on their feet.

People in-between jobs need to look into lowering debt payments, deferring payments, or consolidating their debt. Saving money isn’t the only goal here, as the person also needs to be on the lookout for their credit score. Ignoring debt and not doing anything to manage it while in-between jobs will lower credit scores and push the person deeper down the rabbit hole. 

Getting a Loan

If someone in-between jobs doesn’t have a lot of debts (they don’t have car payments due, no student loan payments looming over their head, and no dreaded mortgage), they might want to look into taking a loan. 

Low-interest personal loans and even home equity loans can be a fantastic option for someone who has good credit. That isn’t necessarily one of the best budgeting tips for the unemployed, but it can be a reliable option for people who expect to find a well-paying job soon after losing their previous one.

If taking out a loan is something a person in-between jobs is considering, they should be quick about it. Getting a loan after they have been out of work for a while will prove to be a more challenging task than actually finding another job. Therefore, they should move quickly and apply as soon as possible. 

After getting the loan (any loan), people should be careful about what they spend the money on. Just because there’s more money now doesn’t mean that budgeting, cost-cutting, and all other precautions can go out the window. 

Credit Cards

Using credit cards to make ends meet while in-between jobs isn’t a wise idea. People should always try to spend cash rather than credit (whether they have a job or not). Credit cards can lead to overspending and a false sense of security, which is something no person in-between jobs needs.

People who use credit cards when they don’t have a source of income will soon find themselves in deep debt with credit card payments they can’t keep up with.

Avoid Going Broke While Unemployed

Losing a job is one of the most stressful things that can happen to a person. In today’s economy, where the job market is jam-packed with professionals and skilled people, finding a new place of employment might take a while. Therefore, everyone who’s in-between jobs should do their best to avoid going broke while looking for their next professional home. 

These budgeting tips for the unemployed are some of the best suggestions for everyone who’s struggling to make ends meet during a difficult time. They’ll allow everyone to take control of their funds (no matter how much they have) and to spend them rationally until they find a new job. 

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