Friday, May 18, 2012

The Accidental Guide To Enjoying Life While Unemployed – Part 1 – The Essentials

As you might guess from the title, this isn’t something I set out to write. At least, not something as long as it’s become. The inspiration, as it were, for this, came about when I’d met up with some Twitter friends. They hadn’t realised I’d been unemployed for as long as I’d been as I’d been so great at keeping myself busy.

Now, I’m not an expert at this. Nor do I ever wish to be. And everyone’s circumstances are different. Take everything I say with a pinch of salt because, while I’m offering serious advice, my tongue has been pretty much firmly lodged in my cheek the whole time.

I’ve categorised my guide into four parts:

Part 1 – The Essentials
Part 2 – Eating & Drinking
Part 3 – Keeping Fit
Part 4 – Expand Your Mind

So, just how have I managed to enjoy living the life of the unemployed? Let’s start with the essentials.

Sort yourself out

First and foremost, sort out your finances. I cannot stress this enough. Once you have a good idea what it is you can afford to live on, you’ll find yourself breathing easier. Or, at least, spending more sensibly.

Where should you start? By figuring out your budget. Draw up a spreadsheet which lists how much you spend on what categories on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. This is a good exercise as it enables you to see just how much of an impact your habits have on your overall spending. Once you know much you need to survive, then you know what your minimum earnings. This may – will- probably add to the stress that you’re feeling now that you’re no longer earning, but it is imperative that you have this in your mind so that you don’t end up burning through your cash, or taking on a job which pays far too little for your to live on.

Once you know how much you spend, see if there are any areas in which you can cut down. Consolidate your debts, if that makes sense. Make sure you don’t have any ISAs languishing away, earning a meagre 0.5% p.a. in interest And the same goes for your non-ISA savings too. Go through your utilities and see whether there are any savings to be made. Learn how to take the bus or even walk, rather than taking the tube all the time. MoneySavingExpert is a great site for tips and tricks on how to save money.

It’s also worth checking out whether you’re eligible for any sort of government aid, such as income support or  job-seeker’s allowance. JSA may not seem like much (£60+ per week), but, as a certain supermarket chain says, every little helps.

And, if you have cash to spare, take charge of your own investments. This goes for your pension as well. Monevator’s a good site if you’re clueless as to where to start.

Keep in touch with yourself

It’s entirely okay to feel down. I cannot stress this enough. It is fine for you to feel sad because events beyond your control have conspired to put you in this position and you’re now stuck in a situation whereby you’re unable to find work despite your best efforts.

I feel like that every now and again, myself.

But, the trick is, you can’t let yourself wallow in it. You need to be resilient.

That’s the key to getting through not just this trough in your life, but every difficult situation you’ll ever face. You don’t need to be tough 100% of the time.  You do, however, need to be able to bounce back from the blow life has dealt you.

If you’re not naturally one of those people, there are ways to build this up in yourself. Explore them. Maybe one of them will lead you somewhere. It can’t hurt.

Keep in touch with others

Don’t let this be a reason for you to cut yourself off from people. I understand that we all feel that sadness isn’t fun to be around.  To top that off, going out costs money, and you need to save all of that for getting a new interview outfit, a beautiful haircut and buy coffee for all the people you need to network with. Besides, it’d be so much better if you could meet up with them when you have good news to share. Your friends will understand, right?

Yes, yes, they will. But, and this is a big one. Do not neglect your friends. Unemployment can go on for longer than you think. And your friends? They’ll be the ones who’ll be providing you with all the support you need. They want to be there for you.

And the ones who don’t? Well, they’re not the ones you want to keep in any case, and it’s better in the long run that you found out. Trust me.

Keep an eye on Little Miss Random Recommends

I couldn’t let this go without putting in a plug for Little Miss Random Recommends, my weekly blog post on what’s going on in London.  Given my own circumstances, most of the events I choose are quite affordable, but still loads of fun. So, if you’re stumped and unsure as to how to treat yourself every once in a while, I’d suggest keeping an eye out for Little Miss Random Recommends. I’ll announce it on Twitter, but it usually comes out by Tuesday.

That’s it for Part 1 of The Accidental Guide To Enjoying Life While Unemployed. Stay tuned for Parts 2 through 4, which will be coming out over the next week and a half or so.


@wilkes888 said...

This is a great blog post... I'm in a similar situation as you. I'm currently reviewing street food and spirits. I was working in the City and contemplating life right now... ;)

Little Miss Random said...

@wilkes888 - Thanks for the comment! I just posted Part 2 of The Accidental Guide... and am rather nervous now as I didn't expect the response that I've gotten!