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Creating Opportunity When You're Out of Work - By Katie Conroy 9/9/2021

Losing your job is a terrifying moment. You know that you'll get through, but, at first, it can feel like you're in freefall. Instead of waiting to hit bottom, it's time to open your wings and see this time as an opportunity. Here are some ways to cut costs, earn money, and come back to the game with stronger skills.

  • Budget for the Long Run. If you aren't already budgeting, now is the perfect time to start. Start by figuring out your bare-bones living expenses. Then it's time to cut everything beyond them. Cancel subscriptions to websites, magazines, and streaming television services. Stop eating out and cut as much discretionary spending as possible. Once you've created a tight budget with your essential expenses, compare it to the funds you have available. Financial experts recommend that you keep three to six months of savings available for emergencies like this, but if you don't have this cushion, you'll need to consider using additional accounts, including your retirement accounts. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all adults who lose their jobs are unemployed for at least 15 weeks. See if you have the funds available to pay bills for at least that long.

  • Find Short-Term Solutions. If, after budgeting, you realize you don't have enough cash to carry you through an extended period of unemployment, it's time to look for ways to supplement your existing funds. Even if you weren't laid off or fired, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. You can also look for a side hustle to carry you through. Remember, though, that side work can affect your benefits. Moving forward with a side hustle is easy. With the rise of remote work and the gig economy, short-term and supplemental income is everywhere. Try working with a peer-to-peer service like driving for a ride-share company, renting out your extra bedroom, or loaning out your car or pool. All of these opportunities are part of the growing sharing economy and can bring in money without a lot of effort, leaving you open to other opportunities.

  • Expand Your Skill Set. One of those opportunities is to *take some training courses or returning to school. If you didn't have time to work on that master's degree before, now is the time. With student loans and scholarships, you can have enough money to pay for school and your basic necessities. Get a degree in a high-demand field to make yourself more attractive to employers. Plan for the future with the subject you choose. You could focus on hot issues like cybersecurity or data analytics. The average pay for information technology managers is over $150,000 a year, but most companies require a master's degree for those roles. If you've got a liberal arts degree, consider going back to school to become an attorney. Lawyers make an average of $126,000 annually but can earn much more depending on the college and course focus. Another valuable option is a Master of Business Administration. An MBA is valuable in any business setting with a flexible skillset that prepares you to launch into management. MBA holders start out making approximately $100,00 a year.

When you approach unemployment as a fresh start and new opportunity, you can pick up good budgeting habits, stay positive, and maybe find a whole new career path to love.


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