Although unemployment rates have declined slightly since their unprecedented peak in April 2020, many people are still experiencing unemployment. If you are one of the many people experiencing financial difficulties, please refer to Liberty Bay’s services to help you through this crisis. In addition, extended unemployment income and benefits (EB) are being provided in 37 states, including Massachusetts, with additional weeks of federal benefits available through the end of 2020.
Liberty Bay is here to help our members as much as we can, particularly as the second stimulus package has still not passed. Read on for 8 ideas to help you stretch your unemployment income.
1. Change your budget
While this can be a daunting step, it’s also crucial to trim as much fat from your spending as possible. Follow our tips for creating a budget and aim to be as conservative with your cash as possible. This may include some difficult but very important family conversations about money. Remember that you may have automated recurring expenses to consider! Review your bank statement to get the full picture of your monthly transactions.
2. Look for better rates on expenses
If you’re paying monthly bills for items such as your phone, Internet, car, or loans, you may want to consider shopping around for better deals. For loans and mortgages, it may help to refinance or consolidate debt into lower or fewer payments. Learn more in our FA$Ttrack course on Mortgage Relief. When it comes to other bills, check when your contract is up for renewal and see if you can negotiate lower monthly payments. Another way to reduce costs is to cut back on your amount of data or number of subscriptions.
3. Avoid paying interest on debt when possible
If you’re paying for items with credit cards but only paying the minimum on your card each month, you’re going to end up paying more in interest. A better way to control your finances and avoid interest payments is to pay in cash or with your debit card. Even better, your LBCU Debit Card comes with CardValet, an easy way to control exactly how, when, and how much you spend. Learn more about Debt Management.
4. Take advantage of LBCU’s stress-free Holiday Loan
If you know you’ll be spending a little extra during holiday season and you’re not sure your unemployment check will be sufficient, borrow as much as $1,500 with LBCU’s special low-interest Holiday Loan. This will also help you avoid racking up credit card balances or worrying about holiday spending. Enjoy your time with your loved ones, and relax with this stress-free lending option. As a bonus, LBCU members can defer their first month’s payment!
5. Get help on your utilities
If paying your utility bills is a major drain on your finances, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that may help. This federally funded assistance can help you manage costs such as electric and gas utilities. Visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration site for more information.
6. Buy generic or men’s products
If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “pink tax,” it refers to the unfortunate reality that women pay more than men for certain goods. Across 35 product categories, women’s products cost more than men’s 42% of the time. The greatest price difference is in the personal care category – women pay a shocking 13% more for products than men. When buying shampoo, razors, or other personal care necessities, try opting for men’s products to save slightly more each time. Choosing generic brands instead of well-known name brands can also help you pocket some savings.
7. Go plant-based once a week
Did you know a vegetarian diet can be a lot cheaper than eating meat with every meal? According to one study of vegetarians in Canada, eating a plant-based diet can save you roughly $960 per year! While you don’t have to go to the extreme of switching to an entirely plant-based diet, picking even just one day a week to go meatless can save you a decent amount over time.
8. Split costs (and meals) with friends
While it can be cheaper to purchase some groceries in bulk, those savings may not really save you much if you end up throwing too much away. An easy way to solve this problem is by sharing with friends, roommates, or neighbors. Remember, do this safely! COVID-19 is still very much an issue that we should all treat with the proper caution. If you do end up splitting groceries or meals with others, take precautions to keep each other safe, such as preparing food with gloves on and making exchanges while wearing masks.
We hope these ideas will help you make the most of your unemployment income as we continue to adjust and learn to navigate through this pandemic. Your experts at Liberty Bay are constantly looking for ways to improve our resources to help our community better. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help during this difficult time by sending us feedback.