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How do I make the most of my unemployment benefits?

We are talking about a huge problem right now! In fact, this problem is bigger than it ever has been before. There might be new unemployment benefits coming your way soon! Do you know how they’ll be distributed, and more importantly, do you know how to make the most of those funds? If you’re relying on unemployment right now, this show is for you. 

Hello everyone and welcome to another Live show, my name is Abby and this is Ask Abby, where you ask me questions about your finances and I find the right answers. Today we are kicking off a series on unemployment. Why? Because it’s a serious problem right now in the country and I have some tips and advice on how to make the most of your circumstances, regardless of where you’re at. Here’s the thing guys, 31 million Americans are receiving some sort of unemployment help right now, and even more people are in tough financial situations, so while you’re watching, do them all a favor and hit that share button so that this video reaches a few of those people! 

Now, before we dive into the nitty gritty stuff, let’s talk about some current events. As you might have heard, the president signed an executive order on Saturday that provides extra unemployment assistance to Americans. The reason it’s taken us until today to talk about it is because there are still a lot of questions in the air about the details. Like, how much is it, when does it go into effect, and how do I get the funds? 

Right now, the current additional unemployment assistance would change to $400 additional instead of the original $600 that the CARES Act provided. With that though, the federal gov’t is only providing $300 and expecting state governments to provide the other $100. That gets really complicated, so off the bat, people might only see the extra $300 from the federal side in addition to the state’s current amount. It’s a lot of work for the states to individually implement a change like this so quickly, so it’ll take some time. 

We are going to keep watching the news and keep updating you because there are also a few other caveats that could reduce the extra assistance to $300 a week, but rather than getting bogged down if the ifs and buts while there are still a lot of decisions coming out, let’s dive into the question for today’s topic which is: How do you make the most of your unemployment benefits? A lot of people don’t know that there’s a lot more to their state’s unemployment assistance than just a weekly check (while that is a helpful facet, of coure). So, let’s talk about it. 

The #1 way to make the most of your unemployment benefits is to BUDGET. Budgets aren’t fun. No one wants to be reminded that they can’t afford something, especially during hardships when it comes to putting food on the table and roof over their heads. It’s hard stuff guys, not fun to talk about, but it’s important to do the most with what you have under the current circumstances, so let’s talk about a few basic budgeting tips. 

  • Number one: Write down your necessary expenses. We aren’t talking about internet and phone bills, we are talking about bills like your rent or mortgage, your food, and utilities. 
  • Number 2: Make cuts. Do you know where all your money goes? Chances are, there might be some funds that slip past you at some point as the month rolls on. We did a whole show that talked about making budget cuts, so I’m going to through that in the comment bar: 

What are some secret budget cuts I can make? https://www.facebook.com/114214120221201/videos/703394243797791

  • Last budgeting tip is to use a tool or call a coach. We have coaches available and you can call them for free! They’ll help you organize and make the most of your budget. But, if you’d rather stay off the phone, go to creditanddebt.org and sign up for our soon-to-be-live all-in-one finance platform. It’ll sync up all of your expenses and give you custom recommendations for making some improvements. That’s enough about budgeting though, because we have more unemployment tips for you. 

Then number 2 way to make the most of your unemployment benefits is to opt to receive your benefits without the taxes withheld. Seriously, this isn’t what I would normally recommend if you don’t absolutely have to do this because eventually, you’ll have to pay the taxes, but if you need the extra funds right now, you can take unemployment tax-free and get a little more in those checks. 

So, number 3 file for extended benefits and keep filing. Most states only offer about 26 weeks of unemployment, but when you file for extended benefits, you get an extra 13 plus potentially and extra 7 after that, so file and just keep filing. 

Let’s talk about the meaning of unemployment benefits. A lot of people look at unemployment benefits as just a weekly check, but that’s why it’s called unemployment benefits not just unemployment money. Many states offer career assistance, like training programs, job centers, extra financial assistance for people looking to start their own company, and the list goes on and on. Take unemployment as an opportunity not only to continue getting some funds, but also to progress your career or at least find help looking for a job! 

Making the most of unemployment right now is important, but there are also other programs you should be looking at making the most of, too. For example, if you’re on unemployment, look into your state and federal food assistance programs. There’s no reason you should be spending a good chunk of your unemployment check on large grocery bills right, so get started on that asap. 

Also, see what options are out there for you to defer some of your bills right now. I’m talking about everything from mortgage/rent to cell phone and auto bills (like insurance). I got a letter in the mail the other from my auto insurance telling me there are options available because they care about me. Lenders and servicers are trying to provide relief options for their customers, so take advantage of those while they’re out there so you can focus on the big stuff. 

And lastly, what do you do if all of it is still not enough? We did a show a couple months ago that answers the question, What to do when your stimulus check runs out? It’s not the exact same circumstances, but in that show, I give some tips and advice for finding extra cash when you need it most and some steps you can take to get your finances in order, so definitely, watch that show. 

What to do if you need more cash and fewer bills: https://www.facebook.com/114214120221201/videos/747637762441435

Do you have questions about unemployment in your current state? Or maybe about the options you have in your specific circumstances? Please reach out to me and reach out to our coaches. If you have debt that’s building and you don’t know how you’re ever possibly get out of it, that’s what our coaches do. They help people with thousands of dollars in debt become completely debt-free in just a couple of years. So, give them a call. Or you guys know you can also ask me questions on facebook, in the comments bar or email me at askabby@creditanddebt.org

While we dive into this series on unemployment, let me know what questions you have and if you would like to hear me talk more about something or heck even less about something, I want to know. I’ll be keeping an eye out this week for more updates on pandemic financial assistance and that executive order, so make sure to like our page and opt in to get notifications for when we go live so that you don’t miss it! 

That’s it for the show today guys, please share this video so that the other people facing unemployment can get some advice for this crazy world we live in together. Thank you so much for watching and as always, we will see you next week on Ask Abby! 

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