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More than 40 million Americans filed for unemployment from mid-March through late May. As businesses struggle to stay afloat in a drastically different economy, some experts predict that many of the planned temporary layoffs will become permanent.
A report by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics estimates that 42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss. The co-authors of the report say that percentage translates into the permanent loss of some 13 million U.S. jobs. They also point out that for every 10 jobs lost due to the pandemic, only three new ones are being created during this “reallocation shock.”
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Most preppers were able to successfully ride out the recent shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, produce, and meats. Your stockpile and your mindset served you well, and they will continue to help you as you navigate through these unprecedented times.
However, not every prepper—especially new ones—was prepared for the unexpected loss of their main source of income. Fortunately, there are some positive—and low cost—steps you can take to help you stay afloat during this time of uncertainty.
Here are 10 things unemployed preppers should be doing right now.
Have you checked in with your former employer recently? If you were placed on temporary furlough back in March, it is time to check on your status. Ask your employer directly if they expect to be hiring you back and, if so, when and on what terms.
There is no point waiting around for the bad news. Whatever you find out, be professional and courteous, and aim to keep future lines of communication open.
Stay in touch with your former colleagues and clients. Connect with them on social media sites such as LinkedIn to find out how they have been riding out the storm. You may get some valuable ideas for your next steps.
3. Learn New Skills
Many online resources have responded to the pandemic by offering free or greatly reduced course content. You can use this unexpected time off from your job to learn and grow your skillset.
Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your thinking:
- Coding – Self-paced online courses are available for you to learn this valuable 21st-century skill. Codeacademy offers scholarships for students affected by COVID-19 and allows users to learn the coding skills needed for specific careers. Other sources for coding are Coursera, Udemy, EdX, GitHub, Code Camp, and Khan Academy.
- Junk silver and copper – Until 1965, United States quarters, dimes, and half dollars contained 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. Old copper pennies are worth more than double their original value. Learn about the potentially lucrative hobby of coin collecting here.
- Home repairs – Now that you have more time on your hands, why not learn how to make some home repairs yourself? Search YouTube for tutorials on carpentry, plumbing, and auto repair, to name a few topics.
4. Grow And Raise Your Own Food
When times get tough, people grow their own food. You probably already have a garden, but this is a good time to expand your beds and the types of food you grow.
Allow about 200 square feet of garden space per person in your family. That means that if you are a family of four, you should plant a garden that measures 20 feet by 40 feet. Keep in mind that some crops (such as large melons and squashes, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus) take up more space than others, so you will need to adjust your garden size accordingly.
You can also save money and gain the taste of fresh eggs by raising your own chickens. This site will help get you started. Or what about goats for fresh milk and cheese? Visit this site for beginning information on raising goats.
5. Plan Meals For Economy
Widespread sheltering at home pointed out an interesting sign of the times. Before the pandemic, many Americans did not prepare home-cooked meals on a regular basis. Between eating out, taking out, and zapping things in the microwave, many families have pushed home cooking to the back burner as part of their modern urban lifestyle.
Even if you were accustomed to preparing home-cooked meals before COVID-19, the past few months have taught you more about the importance of meal planning.
Between rising food costs and the desire to limit our trips to the grocery store for safety reasons, we have been forced to plan ahead more than we did before. The good news is that you’ve probably seen your overall spending on food go way down.
Here are some simple ways to continue to plan your family’s meals:
- Make a list – Before you shop, take stock of what food you already have on hand and write a meal plan and grocery list. Following a list helps you avoid impulse purchases, and it saves you time in the store.
- Choose store-brand items over their name-brand equivalents.
- Buy extra sale items – When fresh items are on sale, consider buying enough to eat now and to freeze for later.
- Include inexpensive but high-nutrient items such as oats, grains, and beans in your meal planning.
6. Maintain Mental And Physical Health
Coping with job loss is stressful at any time, but it is even more so when it is coupled with a pandemic. Other factors, such as having extended family members sheltering in place with you or children’s normal outside activities being canceled, adds to the pressure. What are some steps you can take to maintain your mental and physical health?
Some people are already talking about the “COVID 19” as a way of describing the 19 extra pounds people have been putting on in recent weeks. If you are unaccustomed to being at home so much, you may have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle. Some of the tips we have already outlined will help combat that problem, but here’s another one: exercise.
Regular exercise is medicine for the mind and body. And when you exercise outdoors, you have the added benefits of being in nature. Numerous studies, including this one, reveal that exercising outdoors helps lower blood pressure and boost our mood, more than indoor exercise. And another benefit? You can forego that expensive gym membership.
7. Revise Your Budget
Speaking of that gym membership, now is the time to reconsider other services and expenses you can do without or no longer need. For example, if your family has been primarily watching TV from steaming services, do you still need that cable TV or dish subscription? Do you still need a second car if you are working from home?
8. Look For Free Stuff And Trade Stuff You Don’t Need
Preppers are thrifty by nature, so you may not need this reminder. But if you do, here it is: don’t pay for stuff that you can get for free. Search craigslist.org and freecycle.org and other lists in your community for all kinds of freebies, including everything from furniture to firewood to food. For some valuable items, consider bartering with others for goods and services you need.
9. Re-invent Your Career
Losing a job can be a beginning rather than an ending. Now is the time to explore other fields that interest you. Many companies are looking for part-time contractors as they navigate the changes in our economy.
These jobs may last a few weeks or a few months, or they may turn into a steady gig. Whatever happens, they will provide you with some income and some job experience to help you figure out what’s next in your career.
Check out indeed.com for in-person and virtual jobs or consider creating a profile at freelancer sites such as upwork.com.
10. Learn From The Experience Of Others
Brainstorming with like-minded friends can be a big boost, and you can also gain wisdom by reading advice and self-help books. Here is a list of some books to read or re-read to help broaden your horizons during this difficult time.
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. This 1926 classic uses parables to teach timeless financial advice.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This book offers simple but powerful suggestions on how to improve your life no matter what your circumstances.
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Peale offers inspired advice you will want to turn to again and again.
- Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Tony Robbins. You may know him as a motivational speaker. Here is some of Tony Robbins’ best advice for trying times.
- Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John Maxwell. Maxwell writes, “I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway,” says Maxwell. “Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!”
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. First published in 1937, this Depression-era classic is as important and relevant as ever today.
- What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles. Revised annually since it was first published in 1970, this book offers invaluable tips for the job-seeker at any stage of the game.
Although 2020 is just half-way over, we’ve already seen a global pandemic, civil unrest, political turmoil, and devastating natural disasters. As the summer unfolds, we are facing much uncertainty, and it is difficult to separate what we can control from what we cannot.
Losing your job during this crazy and unpredictable time is nothing to be ashamed of. Many preppers embrace the motto “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” We send our best to you as you do just that.
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