D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
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UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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The recession has impacted many of us.
The recession has impacted many of us. (image by spaceja.com)

With yet another dismal jobs report issued last week and national unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the economy in the United States continues a static trend of high unemployment and job loss. Millions of Americans are out of work, and unemployment numbers are still at their highest levels since the Great Depression.

If you haven’t personally been affected by a job loss in the past few years, you’re probably in the minority, and should consider yourself lucky. Many families and people are just struggling to survive.

Insurance industry statistics also reflect the tough economic times as well. Many have raised their deductibles, cut out optional coverages and in some cases, have completely cancelled their insurance policies.

So if you or a member of your immediate family has lost their job and their source of income, you’re probably asking yourself some very tough questions, like:

  • How can we survive the loss of income?
  • Can I continue feeding myself and/or my family?
  • Can I continue paying my mortgage, car payment and car insurance premium?

Step-by-step: Coping with Income Loss

Step One – Don’t panic!

While we all know that dealing with the loss of an income and being unemployed isn’t easy, taking everything in stride with individual steps can help you manage, keep you encouraged and make things less stressful as you look to find a new job.

Step two: Do a complete examination of the household budget.

Knowing how much you’re spending and where your money is going is a necessity. We suggest you being by making a list of things that cannot be done without – the essential expenditures that you and your family cannot live without. Items that should top this list would include things like:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Insurance

Your specific situation may include other items, such as daycare for small children who aren’t yet in school to attend job interviews. A good rule of thumb is that anything that can, or has the potential to increase your income beyond expenses, is a worthwhile addition. There has to be the potential for payoff – pure spending without any chance of income and beyond the basics shouldn’t be on your list.

Step three: Cut out the fat and look for other ways to save.

Once you’ve come up with your list of essentials, you need to look for ways to save money, wherever possible. Some examples of where families can save money include:

  • Preparing and making all meals at home.
  • Is public transportation available? Can money be saved by utilizing it?
  • Consider removing luxuries such as cable television and opting for a lower-tier of internet service.
  • Do you have both landline and cellular phone service? If so, consider eliminating the traditional phone service. Also look at your cellular plan for optional items that could be eliminated.
  • Obtain new quotes on car insurance. Call local independent agents to see if there are potential areas in which you can save, such as lowering or eliminating optional coverages or increasing your deductible amount. Don’t hesitate to contact your current insurer, either. They may have options available.

There are other ways to save money as well. Consider options such as:

  • Clip coupons and look for items that are on sale.
  • Rather than making multiple trips, make sure you combine your trips to save gas.
  • Can you carpool with others for such trips? Not only will you be able to share expenses, but you’ll save on vehicle maintenance and cut down on wear and tear on your car.
  • Make sure you’re turning off lights, keeping your water use to a minimum, and unplugging things that use a continual trickle of electricity, such as game consoles and other entertainment devices.
  • Make a serious effort to cut expenditures wherever possible. And don’t forget to do the same in looking for ways to increase income flow.

Step four: Income doesn’t have to come from traditional employment.

While most of us think of traditional employment as the only way to earn incomes, there are many other ways to generate additional funds beyond normal jobs. Here are some possibilities you might want to consider:

  • Do you have a talent that is in demand? If so, why not start a home-based business that doesn’t require a considerable investment? Take this as an opportunity to try!
  • If you enjoy children and/or pets, could you take in more? Pet sitting and/or dog walking can generate income, as can providing child care services.
  • Can you do any freelance or hourly type work? Creative and information technology work particularly well for such opportunities.
  • Consider doing freelance or hourly work. This works particularly well if you’re trained in a creative or IT field.
  • Arts and crafts also offer such opportunities. If you have the ability to create things people want, you can find a waiting market locally, or online through websites such as Craigslist or Etsy.
  • Have more than you need? Garage and yard sales offer quick ways to get rid of excess items while also generating income. The same goes for families that have multiple vehicles – can you eliminate one?

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Things will get better

While the loss of a job or income source can be traumatic, things will get better. Remember – take it all step by step, look for ways to conserve and save, and get creative. These steps will allow you to keep paying for your essentials, and keep you above water during a difficult time.