Personal finances

How to manage your money when you’re without a job

Kevin Makra|

Let’s face it – searching for a new job can be extremely stressful. Marketing yourself, competing against other candidates, and trying to keep up with all those daily job search tasks is enough to make even the most well-seasoned professional squirm. The last thing you need is another added stress – your personal finances!

Easier said than done right? You were supposed to save for a rainy day, but it seems like there have been a lot of them lately. You feel you have to concentrate on the job search, not your money situation. So now what? Where do you go from here? Firstly, take a deep breath and remain calm.

Taking control of your personal finances doesn’t have to be a painstaking exercise. Putting your finances under a microscope is a positive step at any point in your life – so do it now! Small adjustments in your lifestyle can make a huge difference in your pocketbook. You will be thankful you did.

Six tips to help get your personal finances back on track

    Be Honest About Your Finances

    It is easy to be in denial when it comes to your money. You may say – ‘I will have a job soon to pay down my debt.’ ‘I can borrow money from my RRSP.’ ‘I can take an odd job if necessary.’ Yes, yes and yes. However, what if things don’t go according to plan? Similar to a prenuptial agreement – hope for the best, but prepare for the worst! Be realistic and truthful about your money situation and face it head on.

    Prepare a Budget

    I’m always surprised by the number of people who have never done a budget. I have helped many friends prepare one and it’s quite simple. Write down your revenue sources and all of your expenses in one place. A quick add and subtract and voila! This is no time to check your pulse! You will quickly realize how large the gap is between monies coming in and going out. High speed internet costs what? It is a great exercise for anyone to do and will help you figure out where to allocate your money each month.

    Decide What You Need the Most

    For a full month write down everything you spend money on, in addition to your regular monthly bills – eating out, movies, drinks with friends. Even if you buy a magazine – write it down. You will be amazed at how much money is going out the door. Some of the luxury items you enjoyed in the past may not be necessary until you have a job again. Maybe that that $4.50 latte you purchase every day is not absolutely necessary. Only you can decide what you need most, but think realistically.

    Start Early

    Early on when you are thinking about your job search plan, also take some time to look at your personal finances. Taking control of your personal finances early in your job search will allow you to keep focused on what is important – looking for employment! Healthy finances will lead to much greater control over your job situation.

    Beware of Credit Cards

    Credit card debt is destructive debt. Why? Because the interest rates charged are unruly. Some credit cards charge upwards of 20% on purchases. It may seem harmless to purchase necessary items on a credit card during your job search, but beware! Unless you pay the full monthly balance (not just the minimum payment), you are setting yourself up for a downward financial spiral. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, avoid them at all costs!

    Talk to a Financial Advisor

    Many people don’t have a financial advisor for various reasons. They may feel they can handle their finances themselves, or that this person may not be looking out for their best interests. Some of these concerns are valid, but your financial institution has a vested interest in ensuring you don’t default on your payments. Talk to them. They can help you put together a financial plan that makes sense for your current situation. Don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion.

When it comes to your personal finances, small steps can make a big difference. Be honest about your financial situation, decide what you need most and put together a budget to keep you on the right track. Your job search will thank you! Good luck!

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Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at kmakra@sentormedia.com.


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  • http://about.me/davidalangay David Gay

    For the single people out there with no children (such as myself), I used the following tips to keep me afloat:

    Free Wi-Fi for your online job search as opposed to having your own Internet access. In cities like Toronto and Kitchener, Wi-Fi is nearly everywhere: Coffee shops, libraries, downtown hotspots. I’m currently doing my job search at a nearby Tim Horton’s

    Look for a cheaper brand of clothing or consumable. Toilet paper is toilet paper, no matter the brand name. Goodwill has become my best friend for jeans and baseball caps.

    Couch-surf. If you have friends and family members who are willing to take you in, arrange couch-surfing schedules with them, and travel light for mobility. Rent is the largest expense of your budget, so if you are willing to go mobile, DO IT. One set of interview clothes and a week’s worth of underwear, socks, and T-shirts along with a pair of jeans and a few sweaters/shirts. I’m in Toronto right now, but will be heading for the Waterloo region soon in search for work.

    Take advantage of the fast-food coupons for once or twice a week for dinner. Would it really kill you to eat a McDonald’s dinner one day a week for a coupon discounted $2.49?

    Re-negotiate your phone and cable service. Actually, on the subject of cable, ditch it. Full of reality TV shows anyways. I did that over two years ago and never looked back, never missed cable shows.

    http://about.me/davidalangay