The Employment Development Department’s official statement announced that unemployment benefits for pandemic unemployment assistance, pandemic emergency unemployment assistance and pandemic additional compensation would end on Sept. 4. Of course, most individuals were well aware of the date long before, as they scrambled to determine how to make ends meet when the financial aid stopped. Just because the country reopened to some degree does not mean jobs fell in peoples’ lap or that finding a job is easy. Research out of the Urban Institute shows after a person has been unemployed for six months, they become increasingly likely to either never get another job or if they do, never reach the income they’d previously been making.
Many job seekers could be finding The Urban Institute’s findings to be true. At times, it seems that those who already have jobs are the most likely to get offered jobs and those who’ve been unemployed might get looked over because they’re “out of touch” or have employment gaps in their resume. Even though a pandemic should explain the gap, for many employers, it’s not enough. So if you’re struggling to find enough work and losing that extra $300 a week in financial aid has you in a tight spot, here are some things you can do now to make ends meet.
Transfer your credit card debt
If you are carrying a high credit card balance that you can’t afford to pay off right now, then the interest might be accruing. Stop the interest meter from running. Look for credit card companies that offer zero interest for the first year. Some offer it for the first two years. Transfer your debt there so at least it will stop growing. That’s the first part: now you need to curb spending. Only buy things you can pay for. Spending in cash or with a debit card can help. This is important so your credit card debt doesn’t continue to grow. The aim is to pay off the current amount before the zero percent interest period ends.
Look into refinancing student loans
If student loan payments are drowning you, you don’t have to live like that. Educationdata.org reports that the average student loan payment per month is $393. Shop around and see if there is a lender who will give you a better rate. Even shaving an extra $40 a month off of that payment will make a difference. That’s $480 a year. Some lenders will give you a cash bonus for moving over to them, so you might see something like a $150 to $300 bonus, just for transferring your student debt.
Maximize credit card rewards programs
If your credit card have rewards programs, it’s time to get very familiar with those. You could get cash back for the items you already buy or find discounted gift cards to the stores you already shop at. Most credit card rewards programs work that way: your points go further if you shop within their portal instead of taking the cashback. So you can actually gain by seeing if they offer discounted gift cards. For example, 5,000 points might be worth $50 cash-back or a $60 Home Depot gift card purchased through the portal. $10,000 points could be worth $100 in cash or a $125 Walmart gift card. If you already needed to make a trip to one of these stores, get the gift card.
Get the Ibotta app
If you have no cash to spare, you need the Ibotta app. It’s especially great for saving money on groceries. While you shop, the Ibotta app will notify you of cashback rebate offers in the store you are currently walking through. And they offer these rebates for big name stores like Walmart, Target, and Albertsons. When you find the rebate offers you want to use, you add them to your Ibotta account. After making qualifying purchases, upload your receipt within seven days to get your cashback reward. If you link your grocery store rewards card to your Ibotta account, it will automatically process the rebates for you.
Play hardball with subscription services
Between your Internet bill, phone bill, Netflix, Hulu, and similar services, you might have quite a few subscriptions you pay monthly. And the monthly price may have creeped up over the years. You’d be surprised what a little stone cold negotiating can do. Call these companies and tell them you’re displeased with the price increases and ask them to lower it. If they won’t, say you’d like to close your account. You’ll be surprised how many send you to a “retention team” advisor who asks if there’s anything they can do to keep you as a customer. Now you truly hold the cards.
Become an AirBnb host
If you have a spare room or a guest house, you can become an AirBnb host. If you have neither, but you have generous friends, you can crash on a buddy’s couch while you periodically rent out your entire home for a weekend. AirBnb hosts rake in quite a bit of cash. Even a quaint one-bedroom cottage can get $250 a night if it’s in a desirable area like near a city center or in a pretty countryside. And if you live in a major city, remember that travelers are looking for ways to avoid the $500 a night hotel fees there. They’d likely happily pay $200 a night for a room in your apartment. Do use a legitimate site like AirBnb that will vet guests – for your safety.
Decrease premiums/increase deductibles
This plan might not be for everybody, but if you are paying high premiums on insurance from car insurance to home insurance, you might want to increase your deductible. Just make sure, should something come up, you’d have enough in your emergency fund to cover it. Look at it this way: a premium is money you will absolutely pay, and never see again, while a deductible is something you might pay. So if your current car insurance is, say, $200 a month with a $500 deductible, taking the premium down to $150 a month might make your deductible go up to $1,000. You will definitely save $50 a month if nothing happens. And while it’s true your deductible went up by $500, you actually saved $600 a year by lowering your deductible. These numbers are just an example, but they show you how lowering your premium means actual real savings (so long as nothing happens).
Get help – not a hire
When you’re tight on money, it’s time to rely on your community and maybe call on some favors. Look for help instead of a hire when you need a babysitter, ride somewhere, help moving, the possibilities are endless. Don’t be shy about asking friends, family or neighbors for assistance. The cash we pay people to do things that our friends can assist with really adds up. You’ve probably been there for these friends, family, and neighbors over the years and they’d likely be glad to help you out. Everyone understands money is tight right now.
Companies want your opinion. In fact – they need it. Consumer opinion is how companies hone their products and their marketing techniques. However, conducting in-person focus groups gets expensive since they have to rent a space, provide coffee and donuts, etc. That’s why a lot of companies now pay people to take surveys online. You can do the surveys from any device – laptop, phone, tablet – and get paid anywhere from $2 a survey to $50, depending on the nature of it. Many work on a points system, through which you earn points for every survey taken, and then can cash out after earning a certain amount. Try these sites to start: Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, Life Points, Vindale Research, Toluna, and CashKarma.
Sell your stuff
You likely have a lot of things sitting around that you aren’t using. From old instruments to books to records to kitchen appliances. And there are so many ways to sell things online now. You can make posts on Facebook or use Facebook market. You can list things for sale on the Nextdoor app, so you know it’ll go to a neighbor. You can sell on eBay, Offer Up, Craigslist, Poshmark (for stylish items) and even on your front lawn if you want to go old-school yard sale style. If you’ve been holding onto a real money-maker for the “memory,” it’s time to Marie Kondo your home and sell it.