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100 Incredibly Helpful Lifehacks for the Unemployed

October 21st, 2009

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Whether you’re fresh out of college and looking for work or trying to get back in the workforce, unemployment can be quite a predicament. Chances are, you’ll need all the help you can get. Make use of these lifehacks to make your unemployed life just a bit easier.


Make use of these general unemployment lifehacks.

  1. Appreciate being unemployed: Enjoy your unemployment while it lasts.
  2. Stay social: Make sure you keep putting an effort into maintaining a good social life.
  3. Get a business card: This tiny tool can help you connect with others, especially employers, in a really big way.
  4. Improve your mindset: Use unemployment as an opportunity to tackle problems in your life.
  5. Join a support group: Get help with unemployment by seeking out libraries, churches, and other organizations that offer unemployment support groups.
  6. Give yourself an assessment: Look at your strengths and think about what you really want to do now that you’ve left your old job.
  7. Stay positive: Look on the bright side and take advantage of your time unemployed.
  8. Make friends with your librarian: Visit your library for free entertainment, job hunting help, and great community resources.


Use these lifehacks, and you’ll be able to stretch your money, hopefully until you find your next job.

  1. Apply for unemployment benefits: Use unemployment benefits to help make ends meet, and apply as early as possible, as they may take time to come in.
  2. Stay at home: Use free entertainment at home instead of going out, so you’ll be able to save money.
  3. Get a grip on your finances: Take stock of where you are in your finances and adjust where needed-you never know how long you’ll be out of work.
  4. Do not cash out your retirement: Just about anything’s better than dipping into your future.
  5. Use your emergency fund: If necessary, dip into the cash you’ve been saving for a time like this.
  6. Don’t waste anything: Make sure you use all of everything you purchase, not wasting any scraps.
  7. Use envelope budgeting: Split your cash into categories to avoid overspending.
  8. Ask for a temporary suspension of payments: If you’re working on a loan, let them know you need help and ask to suspend your payments.
  9. Look for any costs you can reduce immediately: Take a look at your budget and spending to determine what you can cut out.
  10. Stop catalogs and email announcements: Don’t be tempted to buy-just turn them off.
  11. Conserve energy: Keeping your energy consumption down can save you big bucks.
  12. Put your budget into survival mode: Make sure you can stay on top of your basic needs before everything else.
  13. Keep your receipts: Use receipts to list and track your expenditures to find out where you are spending too much money.
  14. Exercise at home: Cancel your gym membership and take advantage of local roads.
  15. Do your research: Carefully research all purchases before you make them.
  16. Put impulse buys on a 30-day list: Write down your gotta have it items, and revisit them in 30 days to see if they’re still important.
  17. Use cash: Make spending more painful and real by using cash instead of cards.
  18. Use cheap, nutritious ingredients: Get more nutrition for your money.
  19. Temporarily block numbers from creditors: While you’re trying to ride out unemployment, it’s understandable that you may not be able to make every bill. Use tools that will allow you to stop the calls, even temporarily.
  20. Stick to your grocery list: Before grocery shopping, make a list and be sure to not stray from it.
  21. Lend and borrow: Give books, toys, and clothes you’re not using anymore away, and ask for what you need.
  22. Cook at home: Eat healthy and cheap by cooking at home.
  23. Learn how to haggle: Improve your bargaining skills to get a better deal just about anywhere.
  24. Learn frugal habits: If you’re unemployed, you’re going to have to learn how to live on less, so pick up frugal habits.
  25. Talk yourself out of purchases: Do your best to convince yourself you don’t need to make purchases.
  26. Make small transfers to savings: Even while unemployed it’s important to save, so make small, frequent transfers that are less painful than lump sums.
  27. Enjoy thrift stores: Instead of buying new, discover the joys of purchasing used.


It can be difficult to find motivation to get things done while unemployed-use these hacks to turn things around.

  1. Get a jumpstart: Plan to get up early Monday morning and get started on your productive week early on.
  2. Squash negative thoughts: Negativity will kill your motivation and productivity.
  3. Avoid bad habits: Don’t fall into bad habits like sleeping in late, staying on the sofa, and eating junk food.
  4. Get up when you used to: Wake up at the same time as you did while employed, and attack the day like it’s a job.
  5. Chart your progress: Track your progress for each goal.
  6. Avoid multitasking: Keep yourself from multitasking so you can be most effective.
  7. Accept setbacks: Know that setbacks will happen, and vow to learn from them to avoid letting them happen in the future.
  8. Assign dates and priorities: Organize your tasks with dates and priorities.
  9. Do a weekly review: Figure out what you need to get done by the end of the week, and what you’ve gotten done at the end of the week.
  10. Don’t let yourself skip two days in a row: It’s okay to miss a day now and then, but make sure you’re staying on top of yourself to use your full force the next day.
  11. Use a "later" list: If you have tasks you can’t get to this week, don’t write them off, just keep them on a different list.
  12. Deal with failure: Take a rest, exercise, and build up your momentum for something new.
  13. Write down what you want to accomplish this week: Choose your actions for the upcoming week that you’ll be able to complete.
  14. Remove distractions: Do your best to keep distractions away, including TV, children, and online playtime.
  15. Use mini goals: Accomplish small goals that lead up to a larger ultimate goal.
  16. Keep a journal: Whether on paper or online, write about what you did that day.

Health Care

Without employer-sponsored insurance, health care can be incredibly difficult, so use these lifehacks to make things work.

  1. Get long term medications filled before losing insurance coverage: Ask to get a year or two of medication while you still can.
  2. Call ahead: Before receiving treatment from your doctor, call ahead to negotiate your payment, whether you have insurance or not.
  3. Read your individual health insurance policy carefully: If you’re getting an individual policy, be sure to check out all of the details.
  4. Go to dental school: If you’re in need of dental care, save money by going to a dental school for free or reduced cost cleanings.
  5. Look for free or discounted health fairs: Keep an eye out for immunization events and more that can save you money on health care.
  6. Take care of medical issues before losing coverage: Make sure to take care of exams and treatments you’ll need done within the next few months before your insurance coverage runs out.
  7. Cut out fruit juice: Fruit juice is high in sugar and low in nutrients-just eat a real piece of fruit instead.
  8. Exercise: By exercising, you’ll be able to stay healthier.
  9. Self-diagnose online: Before you head to a doctor, check your symptoms online to make sure they really warrant medical attention.
  10. Drink tea: Enjoy the many health benefits of green, black, white, cold, hot, or iced tea.
  11. Ask for free samples: If you need a prescription, ask your doctor if you can take advantage of free samples.
  12. At least get catastrophic insurance: If you’re thinking about going without insurance, consider getting catastrophic coverage in case of an accident or major illness.
  13. Take care of issues before they become a real problem: Although you may be hesitant to avoid spending health care dollars, stopping problems before they get bigger can save you money.
  14. Don’t skip breakfast: Avoid energy dips by packing in dietary essentials in your breakfast.
  15. Take vitamin supplements: Make sure you’re getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need by taking supplements.
  16. Get more sleep: Without a job keeping you busy 8+ hours a day, you’ll have more time to make sure you sleep all of the hours that your body really needs.
  17. Drink lots of water: Improve your health by staying as hydrated as possible.


These are useful ideas for what you can do now.

  1. Make good use of your extra time: Now that you probably have more time than you know what to do with, take on fun and effective activities.
  2. Create a job for yourself: Take on a meaningful project or work for free so you’ll avoid having a gap on your resume.
  3. Go to free events: Visit art openings, free festivals, performances in the park to get out and enjoy yourself without spending any money.
  4. Go back to school: Use your extra time to improve your life, resume, and experience with a new degree.
  5. Get inspired: Use books, forums, friends, photos, and other motivators to find inspiration.
  6. Improve your skills: Finish your degree, improve your skills, and impress new employers by investing in yourself.
  7. Clean your house: Having a tidy house can do wonders to make you feel better about being unemployed and spending more time at home.
  8. Write a book: If you’ve been putting off the creation of a novel, now’s the time to pick it up and send it off to a publisher.
  9. Travel: Roam the world while conducting your job search.
  10. Start a business: While you’re waiting to get a job, give self-employment a try.
  11. Be creative: Have some fun and feed your creativity with your extra time.
  12. Volunteer: Feel good about yourself, network, and gain experience by offering your services as a volunteer.
  13. Learn a new language: Add a useful skill to your resume and give yourself a purposeful activity by studying a language.
  14. Celebrate a little every day: At the end of the day, do something that makes you happy.
  15. Connect with your family: Take time to spend more afternoons with your children, visit your parents, and check in on your grandparents.
  16. Get a workout: Visit the gym or train for a marathon with your newfound time.

Job Hunting

Make use of these hacks to land your new job.

  1. Don’t be picky: Don’t be terribly fussy about what you apply for. Even if you don’t take the job, just going through the process is great for practice, and you never know what doors you’ll open.
  2. Update your resume: Make sure your resume is up to date and reflects you effectively.
  3. Apply in person: Whenever possible, send in a physical resume, handed in personally.
  4. Change your career: If the industry you were laid off from is suffering, take this opportunity to explore a new career.
  5. Tailor your resume and cover letter: For each job you apply for, make sure that your resume and cover letter are perfectly representing you.
  6. Accept a platform job: Don’t be afraid to take on a job that helps you pay the bills.
  7. Tell your social networks: Let people know you’re looking, and you may score some temporary work or even the real thing.
  8. Teach: Many cities will hire professionals as teachers, or you can take up temporary work as a substitute teacher.
  9. Use company terminology: Make use of terminology that is used in the company you’re applying for, and you’ll get noticed.
  10. Use a log: Keep a nicely organized spreadsheet so you’ll know when to submit your resume, follow up, and re-check job listings.
  11. Treat your job search like a job: You should spend most of your day job searching, applying, interviewing, and connecting with helpful people.
  12. Stay in touch: Keep connected with your old manager and former colleagues-those who maintain contact are more likely to hear about re-hire opportunities.
  13. Use the rule of thirds: Apply to three dream positions, three realistic ones, and three fun, totally out of your norm jobs.
  14. Blog about your industry: While looking for a job, maintain a blog about the industry you’d like to get into, so you’ll keep up with what’s going on and be able to network.
  15. Save a copy of the job description: By the time you go in for an interview, job postings are probably down, so save a copy for later.
  16. Practice talking about yourself: Talk about your life as if you’re always on a job interview, so you’ll be ready to go when the time comes.

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