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I'm in Debt With No Job and No Money – What to Do

Chloe Meltzer | December 02, 2022

Summary: Did you recently lose your job? Not sure how you're going to manage your debt with no job and no money? Find out what you can do to get back on your feet again.

If you are suffering from debt and you are unemployed with no savings, it can be very stressful. Although you might feel hopeless, you have options. One of these options could be a credit card, but this is usually a bad idea. Many credit cards will allow you to make a minimum payment and carry credit, but it will lead to cumulative interest. This can add a huge amount of debt on to your plate. There are a few courses of action you can take in this situation.

1. Enroll in a hardship program

Credit card hardship programs are sometimes an option. Although it may be difficult to ask your creditor about it, some companies are willing to lower the monthly minimum payment. This is usually if you are close to defaulting. Interest will still compound in this case, and it will most likely continue to affect your credit score. This is usually used as a last resort.

There are also usually hardship programs for mortgage lenders and auto lenders. For student loans you will need to contact the loan officer to see if they are willing to suspend payments.

2. Make a budget and prioritize your expenses

Making a budget is easier than it seems. Some people will simply avoid making a budget because they think they cannot adhere to it. If you truly want to fix your financial situation you can do it. Begin with a budget and then cut back spending. Decide what you truly need and what you do not need.

If you need to revise your budget, look into two different categories. The first are mandatory and, the second, discretionary. Mandatory expenses are those such as housing, food, and utility payments. Discretionary payments are those such as dining out and attending movies, going to concerts or purchasing new clothes. You might even consider cutting out your car or choosing a lower amount of health insurance for a short while.

3. Cut your spending

Get a Roommate. One simple way to get out of debt when you have no job is to get a roommate. You need to cover your mortgage or rent, therefore a roommate can help to cover that.

Negotiate with your landlord. You can also attempt to negotiate with your landlord. Consider offering to do maintenance work or find tenants for the landlord in the rest of the building (for reduced rent). You could also consider moving somewhere that is cheaper or moving back in with family. If you own your home and this is one of the reasons you are in debt, it is better to find a roommate and rent out a room. It is not ideal, but it will be helpful to cover costs and stay away from foreclosure.

Save on utilities. To save on utilities, you can reduce your energy consumption. This will lower your monthly payment. It is not to say eliminate your heating or cooling altogether, but reduce the amount that you use it. You can also reduce the thermostat on your water heater and take shorter showers in general. This will help to cut both of your bills (electric and water).

Eat at home. Eating out is easy, but if you cook for yourself you can save a lot of money. It was found that Americans spend almost 40% of their food budget eating out. This is a lot and can help you get out of debt more easily.

4. Manage credit cards wisely while unemployed

If you can afford to pay your monthly payments while unemployed, then you should. If you cannot, then you should look into one of the other options. The same can be said for use of your credit cards. If you can afford to use them, then you can, but it is not a good idea to use your credit cards if you are unable to pay them off each month.

It may also be tempting to obtain new cards in order to have a larger line of credit. This is a bad idea because it will only add to your surmounting debt. By doing this, or not paying off your balance at the end of the month, will only become more costly. The best option is to stop using credit cards until you get a job once again.

5. Apply for government assistance

If you qualify for jobless benefits then you should definitely apply for them. For example, food stamps and school lunch assistance can be very helpful to give you more money to cover other debts. Although many people resist using government help, if you truly need help you should apply. Try to avoid cash advances, and instead seek out real help that won't come back to haunt you later on.

6. Think before withdrawing money from your 401(k)

If you are considering pulling out money from tax-deferred retirement plans like 401(k)s or traditional IRAs, you may need to think twice. You might face a large tax penalty for early withdrawals. You will also leave yourself without a retirement fund which could hurt you in the long run.

7. Take out a home equity loan to pay off debt

Sometimes taking out a low-interest home equity loan, or line of credit is a great option. Just be careful that you are not heading towards bankruptcy. If you are going in that direction you may be putting your home at risk. It is good to note that you will need good credit to qualify for the best interest rates.

8. Consider filing for bankruptcy

If you are continuously unable to obtain a job, and unable to pay your bills, then bankruptcy might be an option. This is a serious decision because it will lead to major credit damage. Despite this, whether it is a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you will have bankruptcy protection. It will relieve your immediate financial pain but it should only be done if you have many different debts you cannot manage.

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