No Job, No Money, No Christmas? No Way!
So it really was a Black Friday, and then a Black Monday, Tuesday, etc. What can you do if your unemployment checks have run out, or are about to run out, and Christmas is around the corner? First, the “hard stuff” which is money, food, and shelter. Second, the “softer stuff” such as how to celebrate on a very tight budget.
The Hard Stuff:
In addition to unemployment compensation, there are a variety of other resources available for individuals collecting unemployment, as well as for those who are out of unemployment benefits, and for their families. There are eligibility guidelines so check to determine what aid you may be able to receive.
Check for Updates on Unemployment Extensions
Additional Extended Unemployment Compensation benefits may be implemented. Check frequently for updates on possible federal unemployment extensions.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Each state has a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formerly called welfare). TANF can help with food stamps, financial assistance, training, and job searching. This directory, from About.com’s Guide to Single Parents Jennifer Wolf, has contact information for every state.
The federal Food Stamp Program, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low income families and individuals buy food.
Medicaid provides medical benefits to low income people who have no medical insurance or have inadequate medical insurance.
WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Click on the map to find state and local social services offices in your locations.
Non-Profit and Social Services Agencies
Free Job Search Help
How job seekers can identify free, or inexpensive, job search and career resources in their geographic areas.
Career OneStop Assistance
In addition to employment resources, the Career OneStop Centers provide information on local resources such as community organizations that may be able to offer support with utility bills and food costs.
2-1-1 Call Center
Call to find local assistance with training, employment, food pantries, affordable housing, and support groups.
Directory of Homeless Shelters
Homeless shelters throughout the United States from the National Coalition of the Homeless.
Directory of Food Banks, listed by state. Food banks offer meals or groceries, or both.
Libraries and Churches
Check with your local library and your church for information on job search support groups and other assistance for unemployed workers and their families.
Job Search Resources
Job searching can be a major issue when you’ve lost your Internet access and/or don’t have a computer. However, you can job search online without having your own computer. If you can access a computer at a library, for example, you’ll be able to check email, create, update and print resumes and cover letters, and apply for jobs.
Online Job Search Guide
These resources provide advice on how to write resumes, CVs, cover letters and other employment letters, where to look for jobs, how to conduct a job search, the best way to use networking and social media to job search, how to interview successfully and negotiate compensation, and how to research employment related benefits and legal matters.
When your financial situation is tough, it’s good idea to learn new ways to save money.
The Soft Stuff…courtesy of The Simple Dollar.
Instead of material items, have everyone make a gift for everyone else This is a great idea for an immediate family. Many people seem to think this is a great, cute idea for children, but quite often it is the adults that give amazing gifts that tug at the heartstrings. Need ideas? Try making homemade chocolate or homemade soap, or make a book of coupons for things like “a romantic evening walk in the park” or “a trip to the zoo.”
Decorate with homemade decorations The family’s house would look completely different each year because they would use homemade decorations made fresh each year and arranged entirely differently. Here are some suggestions for homemade decorations:
Pine cone ornaments Save pine cones, then run a string through them and hang them up. Simple as can be, yet very rustic and beautiful.
Popcorn strings They would make long strings of popcorn by tying one end to a needle and threading the needle through popped popcorn. They’d also put dried cherries and other such colorful natural items on the strings as well. At the end of the season, the strings were emptied and fed to the birds, who enjoyed a little Christmas celebration of their own.
Aluminum ornaments Take ordinary aluminum cans, cut circles out of them, press them flat, punch a little hole in the top, and put a string loop through that hole. These sparkle amazingly well with twinkle lights. If you have young children, sand the edges of the circles smooth and make one long string out of them, preventing any “individual ornament” problems.
A living tree The family used an actual living hibiscus tree in a large pot as their Christmas tree. They tended it carefully, keeping it outside most of the year except in the most inclement weather The most amazing part was that they would allow it to begin to winterize, then bring it inside to the warmth on about December 12th or so. Almost every year without fail, a few blooms would appear around Christmas morning. In other words, a beautiful part of their summer landscaping became their Christmas tree as well.
Inexpensive lights The family would buy a package or two of lights at a post-Christmas sale the year before (usually for pennies) and leave them in the package until it came time to decorate the tree. They would always have a small number of twinkle lights (using the new strands and older ones from previous years) that reflected gorgeously off of the aluminum ornaments.
Make Christmas cards by hand – and have everyone pitch in! Instead of buying a few boxes of Christmas cards and sending out cold and impersonal cards, the family saved interesting photographs throughout the year and made Christmas cards that were image collages, capitalizing on any strongly Christmas-themed images. They also saved magazine pages that had useful text on them, like the words “happy,” “merry,” “holidays,” and “Christmas.” In their family, they gathered around the table one Sunday before Christmas to assemble them; the father cut out images out, the children laid out the cards and pasted the images into place, and the mother wrote messages inside. In the age of digital photography, one could just use some carefully-chosen digital prints instead.
On Christmas Day, spend part of the day serving food to others Instead of worrying about a giant magnificent Christmas dinner, head to the local homeless shelter and offer to volunteer doing whatever you can, then later on dine with some of the guests and other volunteers. This will give more meaning to the day than a mega-meal at home.