Friday, February 6, 2009

Tips to Staying Sane and Entertained- What to Do When You Get Laid Off

Considering people are losing their jobs left and right, I thought I would share a few tips I used when I got laid off last February that kept me sane. I was jobless for six months and with the help of unemployment and a few small things I did to spread the money around, I was able to keep myself entertained.

1. When you run errands, do them all in one day. No need to go out every day and waste gas restarting your car. Plan your day so you don't back track.

2. Put aside a few dollars toward your favorite coffee shop/place to write and get a gift card. That way, you can keep track of how much you're spending. I did this with Panera. I would put $10-15 on a gift card and could only spend that amount in a week there. I would sit and write for hours (my favorite place to write) with a cookie and iced tea. It was heaven. Once I ran out for the week, I had to wait until the next week.

3. Instead of buying books, use your local library. If they don't have the book you're looking for, sign up for PaperbackSwap (US residents only I believe). For only the price of shipping (media mail rate so around $2) you can get any book that is available (including hardbacks). I've belonged to the site for 3 years now and LOVE it. I've said almost $500 (based on used book prices) since joining. They also now have Swap a CD and Swap a DVD, too!

4. Look for places around your house that are free/cheap to go that you haven't been in awhile. My husband and I went to areas of the city we never thought to check out. Outdoor activities are always free. Usually, local museums have days that are free/cheaper. Check your local city's offical page. You'd be surprised.

5. One word: Netflix. They have a free trial on their site. After that, plans are starting at only $4.99. As you know, from my post from last week, going to the movies is expensive! Instead, you can have the movies delivered to you at a fraction of the price. When I was laid off, I would watch a movie almost every day (we have the 3 movies at a time plan). It was a great way to stay entertained and catch up on all the movies I never saw.

6. When shopping for groceries, be smart. Look for things on sale, buy meat/veggies in bargain sizes and use coupons. You'd be very suprised how much you can save with a few coupons and price checking.

7. If you go out to eat, try Happy Hour (if you're old enough for Happy Hour). You'd be surprised how cheap and how many items are available during happy hour at a fraction of the price.

8. Most important, this gives you time to write, write and write. You can never spend too much time writing. I wrote half of my current book while I was off work. If you don't use the time wisely, you'll regret it once you're back to work.

9. A lot like #9, this also gives you a ton of time to read! I was a reading machine while I was off of work. Now that I'm back at work, I miss having so much time to read.

So, if you're going through hard times, how are you keeping busy? What are your tips to saving money, but still having fun?


Tracy Belsher said...

Tami - great ideas, for anyone living on a budget. But, wow - so sad that we live in a time when it's actually valid to write about these things - reminds me of stories from the 30s when women used to "paint" on their pantyhose because they couldn't afford real ones.

Here's to stability and thanks for the reminder that I'm blessed with my very fun and creative elementary school librarian/choir/drama club running day job.

I play guitar at work and read books to kids all day.

Besides more hours in the day for writing - what more can I ask for?

Tracy Belsher said...

Oh crap - my social studies teacher husband just corrected me - women did the painted on hose thing during WWII to save nylon for the war effort.

But ya get what I was going for, right? ;)

Tami Klockau said...

HA! I would have never known your goof up. But yeah, it is sad, but it's the times we're living in. I was prompted to write this because I've had a few friends lose their jobs in the past week. Another game studio shut down on Friday, one that I interviewed at when I first got laid off a year ago. Since the time I got laid of (Jan. 24, 2008), I would have been laid off 4 times since (not counting the original job). Game studios around here are dropping like flies. It's so scary!

Jen Childers said...

great post!

practical advice we can use.
tough times don't last, tough people do!

Tami Klockau said...

Thanks, Jen. It's amazing how easy you can really crunch down on spending when times are tough. I was off work and barely felt the pinch. Hope the advice helps!