News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Aug. 12, 2020: The COVID-19 global pandemic has left many people suddenly furloughed or unemployed. Going from having a steady job to being without a partial or full income has added a great deal of stress to this already anxiety-filled time.
If you have recently been told that you will go on a furlough or have been laid off, please know that you will get through this, and it will not last forever. In order to help pass the now-idle days in ways that can be helpful and productive, consider the following ideas.
1. Apply for Unemployment
If you have lost your job, you should qualify for unemployment insurance. Also, while the rules vary from state to state, in general, people who have been furloughed can also apply for unemployment benefits for the days you are not getting paid. Google your state name and “unemployment insurance” and you should be directed to a website where you can start the application process. This is a good first step to take; it will not only help you to feel more in control during this challenging time, it will also help you to get much-needed income.
2. Manage Your Expenses
As ej4 notes, take an honest look at your available cash and savings, and if you don’t already have a budget, start working on one right away. As you create the budget, be on the lookout for areas where you can scale back — even if it’s just for now. You may realize that although you enjoy your three streaming services, until you are back to working full-time again you can get by with your favorite one, and you can also embrace your inner cook and use the staples you have on hand to make tasty meals at home instead of ordering out.
3. Use Credit Cards Wisely
While you should avoid running up a lot of credit card debt during your furlough or unemployment, it is possible to use certain credit cards in a way that will ultimately help you. One example of this is the “cash back” credit card that will pay you back with real money every time you use it. For instance, USAA offers its members a number of credit cards, including a Visa that rewards users with 1.5 percent cash back. Granted, you won’t make a huge amount this way, but if you use a cash back card for your everyday expenses, you will get money in your account, without any strings attached.
The key here is that you must be disciplined with these cards and pay them off as you use them, so you don’t end up with debt and/or finance charges.
4. Develop Your Skills
You can also use this time to develop your skills, which can help you find an even better job if you are unemployed or move up in the ranks of your company once your furlough is over. As Indeed.com notes, you should be able to find free or low-cost options for improving your skills online, and businesses are also offering low-cost or free courses to help them. Even if you are happy with your job and want to return to it once the furlough is over, you can still learn new things while you are away from work. Learn a foreign language, watch YouTube videos on how to refinish and repaint cabinets in your home, take an online cooking class and pursue whatever you have always wanted to learn.
You Will Get Through This
Learning that you have been furloughed or laid off is immensely stressful. By taking the proverbial bull by the horns and applying for financial help, controlling your budget to the best of your ability and spending your days improving your skill set, you will come out of this challenging situation even better than before.