Guide to Surviving Unemployment and Underemployment – A Resource Sheet

We never thought we’d have to apply for unemployment, but it did happen. After 11 years at one company, things changed and Steve was out of work.

We had 5 kids at home. It was a scary time.

We survived and here are some of the things we did to make ends meet.

Surviving Unemployment & Underemployment

A Fact Sheet from

We regularly hear news stories talking about how the economy is recovering, that new jobs are being created and that the unemployment rate is down to the lowest level in years. For some reason, we have been skeptical about these reports.

And if you’re one of the many who are looking for work, been laid-off or are working a couple of part-time jobs to survive, you’re probably skeptical too.

What’s The Real Unemployment Rate

As we’ve talked to financial and economic experts around the country, and rubbed shoulders with thousands of families at conferences and church events, we’ve come to believe that the unemployment/underemployment rate is grossly under-reported.

Why?  There are many reasons, but a couple of them may be that unemployment benefits expire and when they do expire the recipients are untraceable – they fall off the list.

And secondly, when a family decides to work several part-time jobs in an attempt to replace a full-time income, they are no longer considered unemployed. Read this Forbes article where they calculate the true rate is more like 12.6% or this one about Millennials and their job hunting woes.

We’ve created this resource list to help you survive financially and rebuild your employment future. If you know of other resources that we should include on this list, please leave a comment below and we’ll research it. Thanks for making this page helpful for millions.

3 Ways to Survive Unemployment and Underemployment

There are tons of things you can do to survive being unemployed. We’ve divided it into 3 categories: Financially, Vocationally and Emotionally.

1)   Financially

a.    Apply for Unemployment right away

Here’s a List of 50 States Unemployment and Labor Resources and US Department of Labor Website Listing of Resources

b.    Use a money management system

Even though you aren’t earning a lot of money and you may feel hopeless, managing what you do have will make it go much furture.

A budget is essential to your survival  (Proverbs 27.23 Know well the condition of your flock) Learn about the simple budgeting system we’ve used for years. Our budgeting system has helped us survive some very lean years, and also works well when our earnings increased.

  1. Maintain your Budget every 2 weeks
  2. Work together Husband / Wife – Communication is critical

c. Sell Things to Generate Cash

  1. eBay—(shippable items) DVDs, CDs, books, games, collectibles, old technology, musical instruments
  2. Consignment—clothes, housewares, collectibles
  3. CraigsList— large items – furniture, artwork, sports equipment, old technology, musical instruments, small kitchen appliances
  4. Garage Sale (less expensive) Proverbs 20:14 – The buyer says, “Bad, bad,” but then goes away and brags. This is our favorite Bible verse about getting deals at garage sales. Read about Garage Sale Gal Lynda Hammond – news anchor survived for one year buying/selling at garage sales
  5. Learn About Retail Arbitrage – Flipping used stuff or new stuff for a profit.

d.    Earn Extra Income

  1. Substitute Teaching
  2. Rent a Room – Air BNB
  3. Become a Foster Parent

e. Evaluate All of Your Expenses

  • Mortgage – could you refinance? Should you sell your home?
  • Electric / Gas—Low Income Rate Payer
  • Phone / Cell Phone — ask for different plan options. We use a TMobile Family plan for cell phones with unlimited everything.
  • Credit Cards — ask for an interest rate reduction
  • Contact All Creditors— communication is critical, let them know your situation.
  • Insurance— Re-Quote Auto, Life, Home (we like using Gabi to get multiple quotes on our insurance)
  • Food – Cook at home (see all of our recipes here)
  • Grow a garden Get all of our money-saving landscape and gardening tips here

f.    Look for Financial Assistance

  1. Salvation Army
  2. Catholic Charities
  3. Church Benevolence Fund – Some larger local churches can help with expenses.
  4. Food Banks and Church Food Pantries (search in your area) / Food ShareBountiful Baskets
  5. Food Rescues (Arizona POW WOW / MOTM)

2) Vocationally

  1. Develop your Brand 
    1. you aren’t your job, you are you and you are unique.
  2. Starting Your Own Business?
    1. Count the cost, You’ll wear many hats / do it without no debt. Meet with SCORE for free mentoring
  3. Read Books:
  4. What Color is Your Parachute – Richard Bolles
  5. Entre Leadership – Dave Ramsey
  6. 48 Days To the Work You Love – Dan Miller
  7. Network / Talk to Everyone you can
  8. Job Shadow a friend or relative
  9. Gain Additional Skills – Certifications / Trade Schools / College (apply for scholarships)
  10. Volunteer/Intern to be working / networking / serving / learning
  11. LinkedIn – Update resume / experience / connect with people
  12. Career Assistance— Find a church (usually larger ones) with a Career Assistance Ministry
  13. Head Hunters – communicate regularly when you are employed so you have a relationship when you need a job
  14. Knock on Doors – Don’t look for job openings – go to companies you like and ask
  15. Attend Job Fairs 
  16. Goodwill – Job Fairs / Vocational Training

3) Emotionally / Spiritually

  1. This is a hard time, but a good time to see God’s hand of provision for you.
  2. Pray/gather a group of friends who will pray/encourage
  3. Develop an attitude of excellence— Prov 22:29 do you see a man who is skilled in what he does – he will stand before kings, not obscure men
  4. Church Small Group – surround yourself with a community
  5. Take time to work on your own emotional and spiritual growth