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How to Manage Your Money While Looking for Jobs

Practical tips on how to effectively manage and save money while job-seeking.

Part of the stress of job-hunting is seeing money coming out of your account and nothing going in. It’s not a fun feeling and often rushes jobseekers into taking any job rather than the right job.

With the help of Nudge, a financial wellbeing tech platform, we round up five simple things you can do as a candidate to take back control of your finances and free up your time and energy for what you really need to be doing – applying for jobs that you really want.

Set a budget (and stick to it)

First things first – you need a plan. Get a pen and paper or, better still, a computer or mobile device (Excel is your friend) and tot up what you can legitimately spend over the next month, then break that number down into weeks and even days if things are particularly tight.

Once you have your budget locked in, start tracking it. You will have days where you exceed your budget but it will be easier to get back on track if you know how much you went over by. With mobile banking, most apps allow you to track spends against a budget and even set alerts when you have gone over your allowance – give them a try.

Advice from Nudge: “There are lots of different ways you can approach budgeting but one useful method is the jam jar approach. You divide your money into separate pots for different expenses, either using real containers such as jam jars or envelopes, or you can use separate bank accounts for different types of spending. It’s a great way of making sure your bills are covered and your money goes exactly where you want it to!”

Review your outgoings

This one goes hand-in-hand with setting a budget and is essential for anyone that has suffered a financial setback or just needs to rein in their spending.

Print out your monthly bank statement, circle all your regular outgoings – gym pass, Netflix subscription, holiday fund – and then ask yourself if it’s an essential expense. If not, be ruthless. You can always turn it back on again when you do find a job. Plus, many subscription services offer a ‘pause’ option to solve this very issue.

Advice from Nudge: “When you’re reviewing your outgoings think about whether there are any bills you could reduce by either switching provider or haggling. Most people don’t haggle because they think it’s too much hassle, but research suggests that around three quarters of people who ask for a better broadband deal are able to secure a better rate.”

Make the most of support schemes

Safety nets such as Universal Credit are there for a reason. So if you need it, use it. There should be no stigma attached to claiming benefits (you’ll pay it back in taxes once you do have a job) and during the process they should provide you with guidance on how best to channel your skills and experience.

Similarly, if you’re struggling with existing debt don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence. Contact your bank to see what your options are, or ask them to temporarily lower the monthly repayment. It’s not in their interests to see you struggle and depending on the bank they’re usually happy to work with you to find a solution – particularly since Covid-19.

Advice from Nudge: “Whatever your financial situation, there’s nothing to be ashamed about and talking to someone will always help you feel more in control of the situation. If you’re dealing with debt – however big or small – there are lots of places you can go for expert advice that won’t cost you anything. For example the debt charity StepChange offers a confidential online service to help you get your finances in order.”

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Find Alternative Income Sources

Jobs are not the only way to make money. You probably have more potential income sources than you might think. The trick is to keep an open mind and explore all possibilities. Maybe you have a car that you could rent out through a car-share scheme, or perhaps you have some collectibles gathering dust in an attic that you can make money from by selling on eBay.

If you’re short on physical goods, think about what skills you could teach others online or use to undertake projects on freelancer sites such as Fiverr and TaskRabbit.

Advice from Nudge:
 “Selling items online you no longer want is a great way to declutter your home and make money. To optimise your sales, time your auction to close on a Sunday evening when internet traffic is heaviest and most people are at home. The next best days are Saturday and Friday.”

Form healthier spending habits

We all have bad habits when it comes to money, whether it’s having one too many takeaways or spending too much on groceries because you’ve not made a list. The thing about habits, though, is that they can be changed. With a bit of willpower and forward planning you can form new ones in a matter of weeks and improve your finances as a result.

So, instead of buying a takeaway dinner every Friday why not try cooking your own ‘fakeaway’ instead. If you take too many Ubers, invest in a cheap second-hand bike. Learn how to make good coffee at home. By making small changes you can make a big difference to your finances.

Advice from Nudge: “Try a day when you don’t buy anything you haven’t planned for. Doing this can make you more mindful of those little bits and pieces here and there that can add up to a lot overall. You could try a couple of days, one day every week, or even an entire week or month, depending on how big of a challenge you’re looking for.”