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When the pandemic first came around, millions around the world were affected by the closure of businesses. Unemployment rates soared among those who were traditionally employed as well as gig workers.
To help bolster the economy and support those individuals who were facing financial hardship, the government rolled out an expanded unemployment benefits program that helped millions stay on their feet during this tumultuous time.
Part of the temporary program was a weekly bonus check added onto the normal benefits. In the beginning, they offered those who were unemployed an extra $600 per week.
More recently, they had cut this benefit back to just $300 weekly.
However, that wasn’t the only additional benefit that individuals could claim. Those who were usually not eligible for unemployment benefits suddenly found themselves qualified.
This included gig workers, freelancers, and the self-employed who were not typically eligible for these services as part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA.
The third benefit came under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC. This extended financial aid to individuals who had already tapped out their state’s benefits period which usually caps around 26 weeks.
Meaning the long-term unemployed could still receive their monthly benefits during this time of hardship, even when they would otherwise have been cut off.
These expanded benefits were passed into law on March 27, 2020. The American Rescue Plan was passed in March 2021 to extend those benefits but expired just this year on Labor Day. This abrupt change in benefits has affected more than 11 million people, while almost 7.5 million people have lost benefits altogether.
If this sudden reversal of financial assistance has affected you, then you need to know where to turn to find gainful employment.
Where can you find work that pays fairly and can help you to cover your bills? How can you save more money to cover unexpected costs that will inevitably arise while you are strapped for cash?
We have everything you need to know right here!
Places to Find or Apply for Jobs
For those who were affected by the end of these unemployment benefits, it might be time to consider applying for a new job. You want something that is going to pay you fairly without compromising your values. Fortunately, there are lots of places available where you can find and apply for jobs in your local area.
Many businesses even made the switch to work-from-home or remote opportunities to help keep their workers safe during the pandemic.
You may be able to find something that allows you to work from the comfort of your own home without sacrificing your health or safety. To many people who were on unemployment benefits, this is a huge perk. Those who have remained unemployed cite concerns over catching the virus as part of their reasoning for not finding a new position just yet.
With concerns over the new delta variant running rampant, this is more important than ever before.
Where can you seek out jobs that will help you to cover your bills? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Apply through Online Job Boards
While you can head out on the town to pound the pavement, you may have better luck trying to find a new job from the comfort of your own home.
Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, polish up your resume, and get ready to find all of the jobs in your local area in one convenient location. Hiring platforms such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter.com allow employers to post their open positions, and you can simply scroll through to see what appeals to you.
These well-known sites are great starting points, but don’t forget about your local paper as well.
Many cities have an online component to their classified ads, and you can also access these without having to purchase a newspaper. More businesses advertise online than they do in print these days.
Start to Freelance
A lot of people dream of being their own boss. You don’t have to answer to a manager and no one is there to micromanage you.
Freelancing gives you the opportunity to land clients while still working for yourself. The world of freelancing is bigger than it has ever been. Many businesses have realized that it is more cost-effective to hire freelancers for just the work they need completed instead of bringing on a full-time employee.
What types of jobs can you get as a freelancer? The possibilities of what you could be doing for work are practically endless. You can work as a virtual assistant, produce new logos for businesses, or write a short blog post each week.
You don’t necessarily have to be artistic or creative to be a good or successful freelancer. If you have a talent to offer the world, you can likely find a home for it.
This is another opportunity that allows you to work from the comfort of your own home. You can even work in your pajamas if you want to! Some people may contact local businesses, offering up their services in exchange for cash. However, most freelancers use online platforms like Upwork, Flexjobs, and Fiverr.
Start Your Own Business
If finding clients and freelancing isn’t for you, then you may want to consider starting your own business. Think of ideas that require little overhead such as a dog walking business or a nanny service for local families.
You may have to pay a small fee to register your business as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or you can operate it as a sole proprietorship.
Keep in mind that you will have to really hustle to make a new business into a success. You’ll have to get creative with free sources of advertisements such as designing your own flyers and posting them around town.
If you are technically savvy, you can even design your own website to set yourself apart and appear more professional.
Apply at Companies You Love
If you have a few businesses in your local area where you would love to work, consider reaching out to them directly. It never hurts to stop by with a copy of your professional resume and ask to speak to the hiring manager.
Many local businesses have signs posted when they are looking for help, and some companies are even offering sign-on bonuses to new employees. This unexpected windfall could come at just the right time if your unemployment benefits recently ended.
While applying for jobs from home is convenient, it doesn’t hurt to head out and pound the pavement.
Park your car in an area where you can easily walk from one business to the next to help you save time.
Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree
Some people are struggling to find work because they find that they aren’t qualified for many positions if they lack a degree or certification. They feel that they have to be resigned to entry-level positions in fast food or retail forever.
Working your way up the chain of command without any schooling behind you can be a long and grueling path.
Fortunately, there are some positions that pay well and do not require any advanced schooling or certifications. For inspiration about what you could be doing for work, take a look at some of these options.
Do you love being behind the wheel with the open road in front of you? Whether you prefer to ride out solo or with a team member, being a driver might be the right fit for you.
There is the obvious choice of being a delivery driver for restaurants, but many people are now making a good living through rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft.
If you have the capability of getting your commercial driver’s license, the world of possibilities really opens up for you. You can drive to deliver materials for local freight hubs.
For those who don’t mind unruly children, you can even become a beloved school bus driver. These jobs are in high demand, and it doesn’t take much to get your CDL.
Those who have excellent phone skills and are good with people may find their calling in dispatch. You could work for the county as a dispatcher for law enforcement and emergency medical technicians. However, this is not your only option.
You could also work as a dispatcher for a trucking company or any other job that requires communication between workers and their home base.
Customer service positions may seem like the obvious answer if you don’t have a college degree behind you. If you are good with people, then this branch of service opens up a lot of possibilities for you.
You could work as a customer service representative at a major company, helping to solve customer complaints and problems. Others will want to work as a post office clerk or a flight attendant.
Freelancing from home as a virtual assistant or working as a receptionist also qualifies as a type of customer service work. You must be good with people if you hope to be successful in this new endeavor.
Some people have a green thumb and love getting out into the great outdoors. If you don’t mind spending long days behind a mower or carrying a weed eater, then landscaping might be the ideal fit for you.
A landscaper or groundskeeper is responsible for the outdoor maintenance of both personal and commercial properties.
Personal Care Aides
A personal care aide helps individuals with daily tasks that they need to survive such as basic cooking or cleaning. If you have a passion for helping people, you might be a great fit for this type of position.
In most situations, you will be working inside of a person’s home to help them with the tasks they struggle with. You may be paired up with elderly patients, disabled individuals, or even children who need help with activities of daily living.
While opening a daycare in your home may not be the right fit for you, you can certainly open yourself up to some childcare opportunities in your local area. You might offer babysitting services or offer to nanny for a family and their children during the after-school hours.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, you can hang out your shingle as a childcare professional on websites like Care.com.
As an added bonus, this website allows you to also apply for senior care positions, school support, housekeeping, and pet care. It’s a great way to put yourself out there for any jobs that might come up.
Money-Saving Tips to Get Back on Your Feet
Now that you know where to go to get a new job, you need to prepare in case something else happens in the future. It seems unlikely at this point that the benefits will be reinstated at the level that they once were under the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan.
You need to be wise with how you manage your money so that you are prepared for another financial disaster if it strikes again.
Ideally, you should have about three to six months of expenses set aside in a savings account. If you have been unemployed for a while, chances are that you are nowhere near having this much money set aside in your savings account.
It can take a long time to save up this much money, but it should be your ultimate long-term goal.
While this is a good goal, you can start with something a bit more achievable. It is recommended to have at least $1,000 set aside for emergency expenses such as medical bills, car repairs, and more. This tends to be a more achievable goal for most people in the beginning.
Once you get here, don’t stop saving! Keep going until you have a fully-funded emergency fund in case something else happens in the future.
How do you figure out how to set aside this much money to help you out in a financial crisis? Here are a few money-saving tips to help you get back on your feet.
Slash Your Expenses
The most obvious way to save more money for future emergencies is to relentlessly slash your existing expenses. Make a detailed budget of exactly where your money goes at the end of each and every month.
If you’re like I was when I first got started, chances are that you don’t really know where your money is going every month. Print out your bank statements and tally up your expenses for popular categories like groceries, dining out, and entertainment.
This will give you a more realistic idea of where all your money is going.
Once you know where you are spending, get creative with ways you can trim the fat. If you spend hundreds of dollars each month at the hair salon, consider going natural or dying your hair with a box from the store.
Cable bills can be quite expensive, and maybe all you need is a streaming service or two. Make more meals by planning to cook at home instead of going out to eat.
While it can be a real bummer to have to tell friends that you can’t make it out on the town with them, cutting back your expenses is the only way many people can start to dig out of a financial hole.
Pay Yourself in Savings
Most people have their bill payments automated and bills come out of their bank account without thinking twice about it. You need to do the same thing for your savings account. Get a savings account that allows you to set up automatic transfers from your checking out.
On paydays, arrange for a small sum to be subtracted from your checking and go straight to your savings.
This ensures that you are actively saving, and it prevents you from spending that money. You won’t be tempted to spend money you don’t have if it isn’t available in your checking account.
As an added bonus, try setting up your savings account at a different bank that is more inconvenient for you to access. If you have to drive across town to withdraw funds from your savings account, you will be less apt to try to withdraw money on a regular basis for non-essentials.
Pack Your Lunch
If you are fortunate enough to find a new job quickly, you might be tempted to eat out during your lunch break with all your new coworkers.
Be aware of how quickly this can add up. Most people will spend at least $7 or $8 on a meal at a local restaurant, even if they opt for fast food instead of a higher-end takeout. Doing this five days a week for four weeks a month adds up to $140 per month or more.
Pack your own lunch and slash your entertainment and restaurant bills.
Cut Down on Groceries
Now that you made the decision to cut back on your dining out, you might find that you are spending more money than before on groceries. It’s time to take a closer look at this line item in your budget and find ways to cut back.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as opting for the store brand instead of the name brand.
However, you can also get more creative with the meals you are making. Purchase less expensive cuts of meat or even opt to cook a few meals meat-free each week. If you are really resourceful, you can even get into couponing as a way to save money on the items that you would have purchased anyway.
Reduce Energy Costs
Now that you have been home full-time for a while, you might have noticed that your electric bill has started to soar. This is one area where you can cut back a little bit without sacrificing much of your comfort. Set your thermostat two to three degrees higher than usual.
Make sure to turn off all of the lights in rooms that you aren’t currently occupying. In general, just be more mindful of all the ways you are using electricity so you can start to cut back and save some cash.
What to Do Now that Unemployment is Over
If you were one of the millions of people affected by the sudden end of extended unemployment benefits, you might be panicking right now. You need to find a new job quickly to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.
Fortunately, there are lots of places you can look for a job including online job boards and popular freelancing websites. This might even be a great time to venture out on your own and start a new business in your local area that requires little overhead.
Some people worry because they don’t have a college degree or certification behind them. Have no fear because there are plenty of jobs available to those who have no education.
You can be a driver, answer phones, work in customer service, provide landscaping, or work as a personal care aide. The possibilities for this type of work are endless.
Once you have a new job, you need to make sure that you are saving an adequate amount of money for unexpected expenses in the future. Build up that emergency fund by cutting back on expenses through things like packing your lunch, reducing your electric or grocery bills, and getting rid of cable television.
Make sure to pay yourself first and automate your savings each month.
Being stranded without unemployment benefits can be a scary experience, especially if they have been helping you to make ends meet for the past year and a half. The good news is that there are lots of open positions available, so get out there and find the job that’s right for you!