How to Make (and Save) Money While Looking for a Job

Are you between jobs, recently laid off or furloughed, or recently graduated (or soon to be) without full-time employment in sight? Here’s how to make money while you’re looking for the right job for you.
Woman glasses green hair Woman with glasses and green hair.

You’ve probably heard that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one: Although a cruel reality to face, it’s usually true. If you’re still working on landing a full-time job in your chosen field, or you suddenly find yourself jobless due to factors outside of your control, it can be super-challenging to make ends meet. But you still have bills to pay!

If you qualify for unemployment, that might be a good option for you; but if you don’t, or feel confidently enough that this moment of joblessness is temporary, you’ll still need to find ways to tide things over until you land a proper gig. Here are some ways you can stay afloat while on the hunt for a career job.

Comb through your expenses

If you’re unsure of when you’ll start seeing regular income, now’s the time to go through your expenses and find ways to save, even if it’s just a few bucks here or there. Maybe you’re paying for streaming services or other subscriptions you don’t use that often, or can save money by learning to cook your favorite takeout meals or going meatless a few times a week.

Whether it’s saving money on groceries, buying clothes, or getting around town, approach it like a game to keep the momentum going. Enlist the participation of a few pals who are in the same boat as you to keep it fun. Start by cutting out things that rank low on your list of priorities, then work your way up and see how far you can get. Whatever you save, even if it’s five bucks a week, stock it in your emergency fund. That way, any money you save doesn’t go to waste.

If you are already keeping track of your expenses with Simple, adjust them to reflect your new, leaner budget so you know exactly how much you have to spend. If you aren’t tracking your expenses yet, check out this guide to learn how.

Embrace the bridge gig

“Bridge gigs” or temporary side hustles, are a great way to explore different ways to earn a buck. You can use this time as an opportunity to rake in some cash by being a rideshare or delivery driver, opening an online store, upcycling found furniture, or starting a side business as a bike mechanic, website designer, blog editor, or any other marketable skills you may have.

You can also take a job at a local grocery store, coffee shop, or any other nearby business that is hiring. Although it might not be your dream job, it can provide you with some income, introduce you to new people, and help you maintain a sense of structure and community during what might otherwise be an isolating and confusing time.

And you never know: Your side hustle or bridge gig could potentially spark a passion that you didn’t know you had, or it could even sprout into a full-time business. And if/when you do decide to pursue full-time employment, you don’t have to abandon your efforts. You can keep up your side hustle and rake in extra freelance income while working your day job, so it’s a win-win situation.

Make tweaks to your savings goals

If you’ve set up Savings Goals in Simple, you might have Funding Schedules set up to deposit money into your Goals every time you get paid. If you find yourself without income, consider putting some of your Savings Goals on hold. It isn’t ideal, but it might be necessary until you start to rake in more income on a regular basis—especially for your more aspirational savings goals.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop saving though. If you still have some money coming in, start small to turn chump change into “get-ahead money.” One thing you can do is dump money from a couple of your existing non-urgent Savings Goals into one for your emergency fund, which you use to cover any necessary expenses you have now that you can’t cover due to a loss of income.

Invest in yourself

If you’ve been itching to expand your skills and brush up on your knowledge to get the job you want, there’s a boatload of options for you to continue your education. From video tutorials on YouTube, to free webinars, to classes at a local community college to an extension program through a university, you’ll be able to bulk up on your skills without having to throw down too much money. And you may be able to defer your student loans if you enroll in courses through your community college.

You can also use time between jobs to invest in your personal brand—and don’t let the word ‘invest’ scare you. An investment of time, effort, and energy into updating your LinkedIn profile, getting a friend to take a nice, portrait-mode headshot of you, and setting up a (free) personal website can pay off big time when hiring managers start looking. Often, when you’re working full-time or taking a full course load, you don’t have the mentally capacity to give these types of projects the attention they deserve. So if you have the time now (regardless of the circumstances), use it to invest in yourself!

Use your time wisely

While it can be tough to get by while between jobs, you don’t have to play the sit-and-wait game until the perfect job comes along. By taking intentional action, staying open to opportunities, and investing in yourself, you can use the time between jobs to not only keep yourself afloat, but gain valuable experience in budgeting, hustling, and being resourceful that will serve you well in years to come.

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.