Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Budgeting While Unemployed

Stretching The Buck
          Forcefully retired - what a nicer way of saying that I am jobless without much money. Maybe untimely retirement sounds better. If not for the unemployment checks, I'd already be in deep doo-doo by now. Never mind that the unemployment rate has been going down, a lot of people still cannot find adequate jobs and not for lack of looking. I've sent numerous applications online but nary a call for an interview. My resume at hasn't been viewed by even a single employer. Here's one of the reasons why I'm still not employed: no CNA credentials (certified nursing assistant). In the last few decades, I've fallen into a type of job which didn't require it, but now employers in psych units are beginning to prefer that you have a CNA. My CNA certification expired years ago even though my card does not have an expiration date. I already checked with the Board of Nursing several years ago about my status and was told I had to retake the whole course again. It's hard having been a jack-of-one-trade all these years.
          I'm beginning to find out that merely filling out applications and sending your resume online is not enough because software filters those applications using keywords and even when your resume passes those filters, a human may take their good old time sorting through the hundreds they probably receive daily. It would be better to find the actual hiring person and talk to him or her and they might look for your application. If not, well, at least you now have a contact person in the company.
          So how does one survive this situation I'm in? You tighten your belt...a lot, until you almost turn blue. Budgeting - something I thought I was good at. Through the recession, cut backs on our salary for three years, sending money to my mother, increasing cost of food and gasoline - I survived them all, but that was because I had an income. The unemployment checks are helping a lot but that will end in April and after that I will have to dig into my retirement nest egg. Out of the checks, I pay homeowner's association dues, electricity, heating gas, internet, cellphone, car insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, real estate taxes, and income taxes. My goodness, so many bills!
          For the amount of cash I used to withdraw from the bank every week for  food/gasoline/daily expenses, I have now managed to make it last for 10 or 11 days instead of 7. So instead of withdrawing that amount 4 times a month, I do it just 3 times a month. My last withdrawal from the ATM may even last me two weeks, but that's probably going to be a rare occurrence. I started using cheap shampoo to wash dishes again because they are cheaper than dish soap, thicker, lasts longer, and smells better. This was my blog post from April 2010:  My gas bill more than doubled last month because I like to keep the temperature around 78 degrees. Well, that bill was too much so I decided I could just wear warmer clothes indoors and keep the temperature to about 70 degrees. My gas bill this month fell to more than half. Not having to drive to work has helped with my gasoline bill because I now only have to gas up about every 6 weeks or so. Another thing that helps is that I don't eat out. Because my income has decreased a lot, I qualified for small discounts on my electricity and heating gas bills. Every little bit helps at this point.
          As if being unemployed wasn't bad enough, this is what happened after I received my first unemployment check - someone guessed the numbers on my EDD debit card plus the security code and charged $2.00 in Illinois! They were probably probing to find out if they guessed correctly. A few days later, the bank credited it back after they replaced the card. One advantage of applying for the funds online is that you get the money quicker. I fill out the application on Sunday, then get an email from the bank when the EDD check is deposited on Monday, then 2 days later I get another email from the credit union that it's been transferred to my private account.

          I thought I had to pay income taxes for 2013 because despite being laid off, my income increased due to my 460 hours of vacation time being cashed out to me by the previous employer. Thank goodness after using tax software and filing electronically,  I was surprised that I'm getting a refund. That may allow me to last another month after the unemployment checks stop coming.

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