Written By : Susan Melony
Right now, many people around the country and the world are out of work for different reasons. Some are unemployed because they were laid off from their job due to COVID. Other people might be out of work because they’re injured, or because they had to take time off for family responsibilities. For example, many children are still learning from home due to coronavirus, so some parents had to leave work to facilitate their education.
So how do you pay your bills?
It should be noted, and the following tips don’t necessarily apply if you’re out of work because you were injured on the job. That’s a different legal situation. You may be compensated for your injuries and the time you were out of work, if you find yourself in this situation. That should help you to cover the costs of your time without a wage. Speak to a team like Valiente Mott if you have any questions for an injury attorney.
If you are out of work but not through an injury sustained at work, the following are some things to know about keeping up with your bills.
Understand Your Options
If you’re sick or injured, while your employer can let you go for not being able to work, that’s not automatically the case. If you work for a business with at least 50 employees and have worked there for a minimum of a year, you may be entitled to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
You won’t get paid during this time, but you can stay employed. Talk to your employer and find out what your legal options are.
If you are injured but can work, your employer may be obligated to make special provisions for you to do so.
If your injury is extremely severe and will prevent you from ever working again, you may apply for Social Security disability benefits. You might find it easier if you hire a lawyer to help you get these benefits quicker. You can always google something like “social security lawyer near me” and you will be able to find one that can help you quickly!
Another thing to check on is whether or not you have short-term disability coverage, which your state may require your employer to provide, or your employer may do so voluntarily. You could also have purchased your own after checking the social security disability requirements in your region.
Short-term disability can temporarily replace your income while you can’t work because of an injury, illness, or pregnancy.
Cut Your Budget
Once you’ve explored all your options, you can start making other decisions, particularly if none of the above apply to you.
You will need to avoid tapping into your savings if possible, and if you have it.
The first place to start is by cutting your budget as much as you can.
You might be able to contact service providers and even your landlord or mortgage company, tell them your situation, and perhaps defer some of your payments or reduce them. People often think this won’t work, but it can more often than you think. This is especially true right now, with so many people facing hardships because of coronavirus.
As you’re working on your budget, go through and cut unnecessary expenses first and foremost.
Your budget is also going to need to prioritize card payments you owe, even if you’re only able to pay the minimum.
As much as it may be challenging, if you don’t prioritize those credit card payments, you may be stuck with significant late fees, which can destroy your credit.
There are credit protection and payment programs that can help you if you aren’t able to work currently. It’s better to look into these options proactively as soon as you realize your finances are being impacted, rather than waiting until the situation is out of control.
Seek A Side Hustle
One of the best ways to ensure you make ends meet is by conjuring up a side hustle.
If you have any old belongings you don’t need or use anymore, sell them! Otherwise, they’ll just collect dust in your home. There are dozens of sites and apps that allow you to sell personal items to others, making a quick buck in the process. Of course, your income will vary depending on how much you sell but it’s a great way to make some money whilst you’re figuring things out.
If you don’t have anything to sell, consider taking paid surveys. All it takes is a simple registration and some time. Once you have completed a survey, you’ll get paid for doing so. The more surveys you participate in, the more income you can generate. Before settling on a survey site, make sure you read reviews, like this Quickthoughts review, first to make sure it’s a legitimate site.
Get Government Help
There are many government programs out there specifically for situations like what you might be facing now, where you can’t work due to an injury or illness.
As an example, there’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, which offers the ability to buy groceries if you’re low-income. There’s the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for low-income households who need assistance with utility bills, and it can also be used to winterize your home by fixing drafty windows and doors or replacing systems that don’t work.
There are also jobless benefits, such as unemployment.
Finally, you might also explore other sources of income.
You should avoid withdrawing money from your retirement account, if at all possible, because of the tax implications and penalties for doing so. You could borrow from a life insurance policy if you have one with a cash value.
You might also think of changing careers if you believe your injury or illness could affect you over the long-term. When you’re out of work, perhaps begin applying to other positions that are more suited to your needs.