How to Make Ends Meet When You Can’t Find a Good Job

When my husband lost his job three weeks ago, we had no idea how long he’d be out of work. We also knew we didn’t want him to take just any commissioned sales job that wouldn’t pay much or last long. At the same time, our emergency fund is running low, and we need some form of income while we’re waiting for a good long term job opportunity to come along.

Here are some suggestions for finding income that have worked for us.

  • Declutter your house and sell what you can on Craigslist. We have a lot of stuff. Too much stuff for our house, actually. So we’ve begun the process of decluttering, and we’re going to sell what we can on Craigslist. So far we have a lot of toys and a piano ready to go. I’m also eyeing our large collection of CDs, VHS movies, and books. These things won’t bring in a lot of income, but when you’re unemployed, every little bit helps.
  • Look for freelance writing gigs. If you’re a blogger, you can already write. Check out the job boards at and the list of freelance jobs at Freelance Writing Jobs. Here is an article I wrote about getting paid to write articles from home.
  • Scour Craigslist for short-term jobs. My husband just applied for a job presenting wine at a wine tasting event. It’s part time for a week, but at $20 an hour, the pay isn’t bad. He’s kind of excited about the change in pace from his normal sales job, too.
  • Contact former employers, if you have a good relationship with them. My husband contacted a radio station he used to work for, just to see if there was any work available. His old employer hired him to run the board for high school basketball games. The pay is pretty good, and my husband really enjoys the radio work. He also contacted his former employer at an advertising agency, and the owner is now looking for some freelance copywriting opportunities for Jim.
  • String together a couple of part-time jobs while you look for full-time work. Jim will be starting a part time seasonal job soon, in addition to his radio work. They pay isn’t great, but between the two jobs, we should be able to survive until something better turns up.

A few more ways to find a small paycheck are:

  • In-home childcare
  • Your local school district as a substitute assistant
  • Temp-Agencies
  • Blogging, though it could take a while for the money to show up
  • Give lessons (music, tutoring, any skill you have that someone else may need)

You need to weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity for your own situation. You need to ask if you are better off working part-time or drawing unemployment from your last job. You also need to find out about any state or city regulations in regard to anything you do out of your home.

The point is, though, if you are willing to think outside the box, a lot of times you can make ends meet, even if you can’t find an ideal job right away. And who knows? By exploring unconventional opportunities, you may just pick up some skills that help you land a great job in the future.

Photo by cogdogblog.


By , on Nov 5, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. judy mendenhall:

    need money for school need money to finish my book on my life story need help to get me started in my life again am a good person and i have tried hard all my life but always get smack in the face

  2. judy mendenhall:

    need a job to get all my bills paid and need to get money for school

  3. Such a great article.

    A lot of people can fall into the trap of “I can’t do anything! I don’t have a job”. Wrong!

    There is lots of things to do to make money you just have to hustle a bit more. Lots of great ideas in this post about that.


  4. The article has many useful tips. I think it’s hard adjusting spending habits without completely ruining one’s quality of life. Having said that, tough times do call for tough measures.

    Thanks for the article.

  5. Thank you for posting this. Very helpful. For those who are reading this and are currently employed; please, please, please make sure you have an emergency fund in case of job loss! We are in such unpredictable times right now. I don’t think there is anyone who is totally protected from job loss. It may be a sacrifice, but whatever you can “save for a rainy day” will reduce the stress of being unemployed until you can find another job. There are many things that you can do to make a few extra bucks. Great suggestions so far. These are the days when many people are being real creative in order to make a few extra bucks to make ends meet. Be well.

  6. Rob in Madrid:

    Very good timing, just got an email from my niece in Canada. She just got told she’s out of a job after Christmas. Making matters worse is there coming to visit us (wedding gift) which even with free flights isn’t cheap.

    My Wife was very fortunate that she was one of the few survivors of a department wide shutdown. The negative is she’s on the road full time. I don’t want to be a bachelor and she doesn’t want to eat hotel food every night. But it’s a good paying job in this environment very important.

    Frugal living has also really helped us pad the bank account in case she is out of work.

  7. Excellent ideas! It is great that you proceeded to figure what you could do to bring in extra income, rather than focus on the glum.

    Craigslist is wonderful. :)

  8. tiffanie:

    this inspired me to write a post, which will be published on friday. i know how hard it is to lose a good job and not be able to find something similar to replace it. i went from $34,000+ annually down to $7.40/hr part time (currently). it’s hard, but you can’t lose faith, ya know?

  9. I am in the process of purchasing a home for the first time, and now I’m super worried about finances. The biggest thing I’ve done and am doing to make sure ends meet is to stop eating out. I find that if I buy food and cook it at home I can save a couple hundred dollars a month on food purchases alone.

  10. It’s funny, the final tip is essentially what I’m doing. I think I’d rather have a single job and then do my freelance/blogging more for fun, but it’s holding together and we’re making ends meet pretty well. I don’t feel too successful since I’m not doing what I’d really like to do, but I suppose I actually em.

  11. Angelsong:

    Excellent, as usual. It is very empowering in tough times to be able to figure out what has to be done, then do it. I have learned so much from Being Frugal and similar blogs, and I know I am much better off today than I was just a year ago. I have been able to start an emergency fund, and it feels really good to watch it growing, even if it is a little at a time. After all, it’s more than we had before, and “everything counts.”

  12. What I appreciate about this article is that you and your husband went immediately into problem-solving mode instead of doing what so many others do: whine, complain, blame, and wait for someone else to rescue you. Great job and great suggestions.

  13. Renata:

    Thanks for sharing this. Although I blog, I take forever to write something that is publish worthy. I’d probably make below minimum wage if that were the case. But maybe I should ask you, how much do writing gigs go for?

  14. Dawn:

    I’m with Mr. ToughMoneyLove up there. I am always so impressed when people assess their problems and then get right to work finding creative solutions!

  15. When we went through this Hubby took a string of jobs and I went to work in retail. It was 3 years before he got a secure postion again. In the meantime I learned alot of things at the jobs I held and he did everytyhing–fixed people’s computers, loaded trucks.. I worked retail and sold things on ebay. We still couldn’t make ends meet without family help however– our kids got jobs and his parents paid our heat bills–which were outrageous one winter.

    The experience taught me to always be prepared that it can happen again –and at some point probably will. It was life changing and I think probably for the best as we needed that wake up call.

  16. Great article. My husband has been without full time work for a year now (he still has a great paying part time job). We have taken on lots of odd jobs to make ends meet.

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