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14 Best Ways to Save Money in Unemployment

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If you’re out of work and waiting for stimulus funds, you need to be resourceful. Here’s a few ways to scrimp and save.

Story by: ELLEN CHANG  UPDATED:APR 24, 2020 12:29 PM EDT / ORIGINAL: APR 23, 2020

Over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment and more people are expected to file for benefits as businesses remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As people wait for their federal stimulus checks and unemployment funds to arrive and companies to reopen, saving money remains a top priority.

Here are the 14 best ways to save money while you are unemployed.

1. Seek Deferments

Communicating with everyone you owe money to is an essential step if you have lost your job and have no source of income, said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization.

“Each interaction is an opportunity to ask for relief from monthly payments and help your financial resources go farther,” he said. “The more payments you are allowed to skip without penalty, the longer your money will last.”

Call creditors to explain your hardship and try to defer payments, even your mortgage, rent and utilities, said Jim Triggs, CEO of Money Management International, a non-profit debt counseling organization in Sugar Land, Texas.

2. Seek Out Local Resources

There are many non-profit organizations that are providing help for utility payments or food. Your local food bank and public schools are likely providing food or meals. Global nonprofits such as World Central Kitchen are providing meals throughout the U.S. and working with local nonprofits.

3. Search for Sales and Deals

Check out the sales being offered by grocery stores and other retailers either through their weekly advertisement or online.

“Clip coupons, find sales and make sure whatever you are able to buy that you’re getting the best deal on those items,” Triggs said.

4. Talk to Friends and Family Members or Call A Credit Counselor

Discussing your financial situation can be difficult, but talk to your friends and family about helping each other out.

“Most everyone is in this bad situation by no fault of their own, your friends and family may be very happy to help out during this crisis,” he said.

Talk to a professional who can provide you options to elevate some of your overload of bills and creditors call. Work with a credit counselor who can evaluate your situation, provide some lower credit interest and establish a monthly budget that is attainable.

5. Use Your Credit Card Rewards

Take advantage of credit card rewards you may have already stockpiled, said Ted Rossman, an analyst for CreditCards.com.

“Cash back can be really valuable, especially these days,” he said.

Make sure you’re using the right cards for necessary purchases such as groceries – the American Express  (AXP) – Get Report Blue Cash Preferred gives 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and the Chase  (JPM) – Get Report Freedom is giving 5% cash back on groceries this quarter.

6. Ask for Lower Interest Rates

Call your credit card companies and other creditors about changing due dates, lowering interest rates and waiving other fees, Rossman said.

7. Make a List

Before you go shopping at the grocery store or at Target,  (TGT) – Get Report make a list.

Shoppers who make a list of items they need to purchase are more likely to stick with their budget.

“Plan ahead to avoid any surprise expenses that could drain your savings or lead to unmanageable debt,” McClary said.

8. Give Gifts of Service

Provide gifts of services like babysitting or dog sitting instead of buying someone a gift, even a small one for someone’s birthday or other celebrations. Print out photos from your phone of you and your loved ones. This is still a very “thoughtful gift” because it shows that you care, Triggs said.

9. Reduce Energy Costs

Lower your energy costs by searching for cheaper rates online for electricity if you live in a deregulated city. Determine if a utility company offers any incentives such as when power is used during off-peak hours. Replace your current light bulbs with LEDs since they are more efficient and last longer. Lighting consists of a large portion of power usage for some households.

10. Use Round-Up Savings

Apps from banks and other financial institutions such as Bank of America  (BAC) – Get Report, Acorns, Chime, Digit and Qapital round up your purchases to the next dollar and deposit it in a savings or investment account. Some of the apps are free while others charge a nominal monthly fee.

If you’re still driving frequently, here are some ways to save money on gasoline:

11. Use Cash for Gas

Some gas stations offer a discount if cash is used instead of a credit card. The discount is usually only a few pennies per gallon, but the savings add up.

12. Avoid Stations Near the Freeway

Gas stations along the freeway or major roadways are easy to spot and convenient, but prices are often higher.

13. Fill Up at Warehouse Stores

Shop and get gasoline at warehouse stores such as Costco  (COST) – Get Report or Sam’s Club because they give discounts to their members.

14. Check the Tire Pressure

Check your tire pressure every month because when tires are underinflated, cars use more fuel.

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TAGS: PERSONAL FINANCE

BY ELLEN CHANG

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Michigan license number:   DM-0016282 Available to the public and licensed in Michigan.

Section 13(1)  When a licensee establishes a debt management plan for a debtor, the licensee may charge and receive an initial fee of $50.00

Section 13(2)  A licensee shall attempt to obtain consent to participate in a debt management plan from at least 51%, in number or dollar amount, of the debtor’s creditors within 90 days after establishing the debt management plan. If the required consent is not actually received by the licensee, the licensee shall provide notice to the debtor of the lack of required consent and the debtor may, at its option, close the account. If the debtor decides to close the account, any unexpended funds shall be returned to the debtor or disbursed as directed by the debtor.

Sec. 14. (1) A contract between a licensee and debtor shall include all of the following:

(a) Each creditor to which payments will be made and the amount owed each creditor. A licensee may rely on records of the debtor and other information available to it to determine the amount owed to a creditor.

(b) The total amount of the licensee’s charges.

(c) The beginning and termination dates of the contract.

(d) The principal amount and approximate interest charges of the debtor’s obligations to be paid under the debt management plan.

(e) The name and address of the licensee and of the debtor.

(f) Any other provisions or disclosures that the director determines are necessary for the protection of the debtor and the proper conduct of business by a licensee.

Sec. 18. (1) In addition to the fee described in section 13(1), a licensee may charge a reasonable fee for providing debt management services under a debt management plan. The fee under this subsection shall not exceed 15% of the amount of the debt to be liquidated during the express term of the plan.

(2) A licensee may offer a debtor the option to purchase credit reports or educational materials and products, and charge a fee to the debtor if the debtor elects to purchase any of those items from the licensee.  Fees charged under this subsection are not subject to the 15% limitation on fees described in subsection (1).

(3) Except for a cancellation described in subsection (4), in the event of cancellation of or default in the performance of the contract by the debtor before its successful completion, a licensee may collect $25.00 in addition to any fees and charges of the licensee previously received by the licensee. This $25.00 fee is not subject to the 15% limitation on fees and charges under subsection (1).

(4) A contract is in effect when it is signed by the licensee and the debtor and the debtor has made a payment of any amount to the licensee. The debtor has the right to cancel the contract until 12 midnight of the third business day after the first day the contract is in effect by delivering written notice of cancellation to the licensee. A cancellation described in this section is not subject to, and a licensee shall not collect, the fee described in subsection (3).

(5) If a debtor fails to make a payment of any amount to a licensee within 60 days after the date a payment is due under a contract, the licensee may, in its discretion, cancel the debt management contract if it determines that the plan is no longer suitable for the debtor, the debtor fails to affirmatively communicate to the licensee the debtor’s desire to continue the plan, or the creditors of the debtor refuse to continue accepting payments under the plan.

(6) A licensee shall not contract for, receive, or charge a debtor an amount greater than authorized by this act. A person that violates this subsection, except as the result of an inadvertent clerical or computer error, shall return to the debtor the amount of the payments received from or on behalf of the debtor and not distributed to creditors, and, as a penalty, an amount equal to the amount overcharged.

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