Money Management Tips for the newly UnemployedFriday, November 07, 2008

With the nation’s unemployment remaining high, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta today reminds people who have lost their jobs to continue paying their bills on time and managing their credit wisely during this difficult period.

Managing your credit during unemployment is critical since having good credit is a requirement for some jobs. “Some people have the professional and education background for a new position, but may have an inability to pay bills on time,” says Mechel Glass, CCCS of Greater Atlanta’s director of education. “Failing to manage your finances during unemployment could affect your credit report and hurt your chances of landing a new job.”

As part of its education mission, the national nonprofit credit counseling agency teaches classes on money management. Below are some money management tips to help people through a period of unemployment, as well as long-term tactics to implement once they have a new job.

Short-Term Money Management Tips

People who have recently lost a job should determine if they are eligible for unemployment benefits from their state Department of Labor. While state laws vary, a person is often eligible for benefits as long as they have not received a severance package from their employer or receive retirement income.

Once you have lost a job, consider the following tactics:

  • Make looking for a new job your full-time job. It may take several months for people in some professional and financial services to find a new job. Each day you need to network with friends and former colleagues, look for jobs online and apply for new positions.

Plenty of assistance is available. For example:

  • Contact Angel Food Ministries to obtain food at the lowest possible cost. The organization can be reached at 877.366.3646 or angelfood@angelfoodministries.com.
  • Call United Way at 211 to find out about other low-cost services, such as day care.
  • If you are paying off a student loan, contact the financial company servicing the loan to find out if you can defer or reduce your payments.
  • Contact the financial company servicing your automobile loan to see if you can make a similar arrangement.
  • Make at least the minimum monthly payments on your credit card accounts. If that is impossible, contact your lender, explain your loss of income and advise them when you will be able to resume making payments.
  • If you cannot make your mortgage payment, contact a mortgage counselor at 888.995.HOPE.
  • Consider downsizing your lifestyle by reducing expenses such as club and gym memberships, cable television, bottled water and movies. Find ways to reduce “everyday” expenses, such as telephone use and dining out at restaurants. For example, families with cell phones for each person may not need a land line and cooking all meals at home could easily save a family hundreds of dollars each month.

Long-Term Money Management Tips

Many people, now unemployed, formerly worked in high-income professional jobs, such as those in the mortgage, real estate or securities industries, and may not find a new job paying as much money. They should consider a change in their lifestyles to meet their financial obligations in the future. Here are some tips to do that:

  • Develop a new, realistic budget that will enable you to pay for essential expenses and bills before any extra or luxury items. Consider developing a budget so you can live on 70 percent of your new income, with the remaining 30 percent used for savings and investments.
  • Consider selling your car, especially if you have a high monthly payment, and purchase a less expensive model with smaller monthly payments.
  • If it’s difficult to make your mortgage payment each month and you can live in a smaller home, consider putting your home up for sale. While home prices are depressed, it may be a better long-term solution to live in a home you can afford.

Need More Information?

CCCS of Greater Atlanta offers online education classes that cover a wide variety of money management topics at www.CredAbilityU.org.