Neyat Yohannes
September 15, 2015 11:51 am

Whether you’re a recent grad or in-between jobs, when you lose your job security, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and interests too. It’s understandable that you have anxiety and feelings about being unemployed. Feel those feelings! But instead of letting the funk of unemployment soak into you like you’re some sort of off-brand ShamWow, try to invest time in the aspects of your life that you can control. There’s no need to lock yourself in a dark room and be starved of food, fitness, fun, or fashion in the midst of searching for your next gig. In fact, if you’re willing to stick to a budget and be savvy with your money, you can maintain your day-to-day routine with just a few minor tweaks.

Make a budget for food

This is a tricky one. Leading a healthy lifestyle is vital but it’s no cheap feat. When you’re strapped for cash, it’s important to plan ahead before blowing your entire paycheck at pricy eateries or at an expensive health food store. Thinking two or three weeks in advance is a good way to stretch your dollar. Make a list in order of the things you most need to the luxury items you want but could live without. (Fruit? Yep, you need it. That cold-pressed small batch green juice? Leave it be.)

Keep in mind that you can get produce and dairy products for cheap at local co-ops. And then, if you must have your kombucha, you can plan around the expense. Also, many local grocery stores have decent rewards programs and if you get good at cutting coupons, you may just have a shot at landing a spot on an episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing—a goal we should all aspire to, really. Try to limit eating out, and instead pack your own lunch if you’re going out.

Don’t give up on exercise

Ax your gym membership. Like, now. I know it’s hard to get motivated when you don’t have a fancy, air-conditioned paradise filled with Dwayne the Rock Johnson look-alikes but that hefty monthly bill hurts when you’re not making a regular income. Instead, turn your room or your backyard into the gym you’ve always wanted. Whether you decide to power through some crunches to your favorite pump-up playlist, dig up an old Jane Fonda workout tape and legwarmers, or bust out some yoga poses to balance your chakras, it’s just you in your element. Run or bike outside, and look out for free yoga classes (they happen!) and other cheapie fitness things. You can stay active without spending dough.

You can still have a social life

Being low on funds doesn’t mean you have to be low on fun. (Look at you. Just walked right into that.) But puns aren’t the only free thing around. When you’re looking to have a good time, consider checking out your city’s events calendars in the local paper. Many museums have free days and rather than paying for movie tickets, you can attend film screenings that are often times, you guessed it: free. Tell your friends that you want to hang, but instead of pricey cocktails, maybe its’ time for wine at home or a walk outside.

Consider following your favorite businesses on social media because chances are, they have discount days or special promotions. Why not visit your local parks and recreation department? Sure, the person who runs it is probably no Leslie Knope, but I’m willing to bet you’ll find out about cool trails or secret waterfalls or other natural places in your community that you never knew about. You may just discover your very on Walden Pond and have many Thoreau moments to come. Or at the very least, find another form of free fitness.

Alternative transportation is rad

Calling a car can be tempting when you’re feeling too lazy to walk home from a long night with friends but unless you’re intoxicated or feel threatened by something in your environment, use your legs. Or ride a bike, or a scooter, or a skateboard, or even rollerblade your way through life. Get to know the subways and buses around you if you don’t already. It’s cheaper than maintaining a car and great for people watching or catching up on that reading list.

Spruce up your wardrobe on the cheap

You don’t have to buy brand new clothes to achieve the perfect look. Hit your local thrift shops and consignment boutiques for unique finds at the right price. Take inventory of your closet. Do you have any items you’re willing to part ways with? If so, this is the perfect opportunity to host a clothing swap party. Maybe your pal will be willing to part ways with that leather jacket you’ve been eying for the past two years. Or perhaps, you’ll finally get rid of those platform shoes you never figured out how to walk in.

Don’t give up!

We know it’s tough, but you’ll land the perfect job soon enough. And until that faithful day arrives, you are well-equipped with a good head on your shoulders and a steady hand on your wallet. Good luck!

[Image via AMC]

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