Sometimes, unemployment can strike out of the blue. Everything seems fine one day. And the next day, you’re out pounding the pavement looking for work.
While unemployment insurance and an emergency fund can make a big difference when it comes to financially surviving a period of joblessness, another key step in ensuring that you make it through to your next job is cutting back on some of your expenses. Here are six purchases on which you should cut back immediately if you lose your job.
Netflix, Spotify and Other Streaming Services
These types of services can be fun time-wasters, but they’re easily replaced by listening to the radio and checking out movies from the library. Streaming services are a direct drain on your finances.
If you’re really excited about a particular program on a streaming service, use that as motivation to find employment. Just promise yourself you’ll restore the service and get caught up on missed episodes and movies as soon as you find a new job.
[See: How to Live on $13,000 a Year.]
If you’re unemployed, you now have plenty of time to prepare less expensive meals at home. Most of the advantage of eating out comes from the time saved, but while you’re unemployed, you have more time to cook at home.
Preparing your own meals is a great frugal strategy. Not only does it save money in the moment, as meals at home are almost always less expensive than their restaurant equivalents, but cooking at home builds skills that make it easier to continue that money-saving practice once you return to the workplace.
Services You Can Do Yourself
Instead of hiring others to complete tasks such as changing the oil in your vehicle, washing the car and mowing the lawn, do them yourself. Simply stop using those services (or cancel any regular services you have) and take on those tasks on your own.
There’s no need to spend $10 to go through a car wash when you can wash the car yourself for pennies. There’s no need to pay someone $25 to mow your lawn when you can do it yourself. Again, you’ve got an abundance of time now, and you can always start using these services to save time again when you’ve found a new job.
This is a great time to cut the cable cord and cancel your cable service. You can get an inexpensive digital antenna and hook it up to your television to get as many as 25 digital channels for free, and you can supplement that by checking out movies from the library for free.
Many people derive much of their entertainment from the internet anyway, so cutting cable service often has surprisingly little impact on their leisure time. As with many of the suggested cutbacks here, you can always restore it when you find employment.
Gym Membership and Club Memberships
If you have an active membership in a gym, country club or some other local group, let it expire rather than renewing it again. To replace the gym membership, you can get exercise on your own at home using body-weight exercise and jogging and running anywhere you’d like. To replace the country club membership, start participating in other civic groups to maintain many of the same social connections.
These types of memberships drain your wallet at a time when you can’t afford it, so simply allow them to expire. They can always be renewed at a later time.
Many people fall into routines of stopping for treats every day. They get coffee at the coffee shop, stop for a snack on their way home from work or get some other treat on a frequent basis.
Since your routine is disrupted with the job loss, it’s a great time to rethink those treats and perhaps eliminate them. If you’re not driving by the coffee shop or the fast food drive-thru, maybe now’s the best time to drop those expensive routines from your day.
For all of these strategies, don’t hold off on implementing changes. Making these cuts now will make the financial pain of an unemployment period less intense. An inflated budget while unemployed means that financial disaster will come even faster. Remember that you can always restore these services as soon as you have a new job in place.
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6 Expenses to Cut Immediately If You Lose Your Job originally appeared on usnews.com