How to save money while job hunting
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Navigating the job market can be a daunting task, especially when concerns about job security loom large. In fact, Bankrate’s recent job seeker survey found that 33 percent of workers are worried about the stability of their current jobs.
With that said, the unemployment rate is low in today’s economy, at 3.4 percent. That means it’s a tight labor market and there are numerous opportunities for job seekers to find employment that suits their skills and qualifications.
While concerns about job security persist, it’s important to be proactive and use the tools and resources available to save money while seeking out a stable job. By implementing the strategies below, you can take steps toward financial stability, navigate the competitive job market with confidence and increase your chances of securing a desirable position.
Key job seeking statistics
- According to Bankrate’s job seeker survey, over half (56 percent) of workers say they’re likely to look for a new job within the next year, up from 51 percent in 2022. (Bankrate)
- Meanwhile, 30 percent of workers are likely to quit a job in the next 12 months. (Bankrate)
- U.S. adults are struggling to save: 39 percent have less savings compared to a year ago, and 10 percent have no savings. (Bankrate)
- While 34 percent of Americans say they’re focusing on both paying down debt and building emergency savings, 55 percent say they’re only focusing on one or the other. (Bankrate)
- A quarter of those surveyed said they’d pay for a sudden, large expense with a credit card, rather than with emergency savings. (Bankrate)
How to save money while job searching
People look for new job opportunities for various reasons, such as career advancement, higher pay or a desire for change. They might also be seeking employment after a break in work. Either way, it’s important not to rush into getting a new job and to manage your finances while you research potential positions.
You need to find a position that leverages your strengths and is compatible with your interests, personality style and priorities.— Lynn Berger, a career counselor and coach based in New York City
From covering daily expenses to preparing for interviews, there are several factors to budget and save for during this transitional period. Here are some tips to guide you along the way.
Save money while looking
Whether you’re currently unemployed or are looking to switch jobs, there are several ways to save money and make the most of your resources while on the hunt. First, take advantage of free job search sites that can help you find opportunities without spending any money. Platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor provide access to a wide range of job listings and allow you to apply directly through their portals. With these sites you can avoid subscription fees or paid job boards.
Building a budget-friendly wardrobe is another effective way to save money. Instead of splurging on new clothes, consider shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops or online marketplaces where you can find affordable and gently used professional attire. You can also explore clothing rental services that provide access to a variety of outfits for a fraction of the price.
If you have student loans, getting on an income-based student loan repayment plan can provide financial relief during your job search. These plans adjust your monthly payments based on your income and family size, ensuring that you can manage your loan payments while searching for employment. It’s important to contact your loan servicer and explore the options available to you.
Consider allocating some of your savings specifically for a job search fund, where you can set aside money for expenses like transportation, interview outfits or professional development. Having a dedicated savings account will help you stay organized and track your job search-related expenses while earning a little extra money through interest. Make sure to compare top interest rates so that you’re earning the most you can on your savings.
Networking through people you know
Networking can be a powerful tool in finding a job. According to a LinkedIn survey, a staggering 85 percent of jobs are acquired through networking.
“Start with the individuals that are easier to speak with and then build up the confidence to speak with others,” Berger suggests. “Share your situation and that you are looking for advice and suggestions.”
— Lynn Bergera career counselor and coach based in New York City
Use sites like LinkedIn to let your network know you are open to work. Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your job search status, making it easier for your connections to identify relevant opportunities and refer you to potential employers.
Job fairs or conferences can also be valuable networking opportunities where you can connect with employers, industry professionals and fellow job seekers. Networking in person allows you to make a lasting impression, showcase your skills and find and potentially secure job leads without spending money on application fees or online job boards.
Have all your resources ready to go in case someone asks for them. Before diving into networking, ensure your resume is up to date and tailored for your specific industry or field. Research the best format for your field to attract the right people’s attention, and customize your resume accordingly.
Build your personal skills
Building personal skills can significantly enhance your job prospects and income potential. Employers value individuals who possess specialized skills and may reward them with additional responsibilities, promotions, or higher pay.
Take advantage of free programs like CareerOneStop and Apprenticeship.gov, which provide resources and training opportunities to help you develop new skills or enhance existing ones. These programs can offer valuable certifications, licenses or industry-recognized credentials that boost your credibility and marketability.
Alternatively, consider joining specific programs either online or at a community college. These programs often offer lower tuition rates compared to traditional four-year degrees, and they focus on practical skills needed in certain industries. For example, becoming a dental hygienist, HVAC repair technician or electrician through a two-year degree or certificate program can provide you with the necessary qualifications to enter these fields. These professions not only require less time and financial investment but can also offer competitive salaries that can quickly offset the initial costs.
Evaluate spending habits
Whether you have lost your job or are actively searching for a new one, it’s important to take time to create or revisit a budget and track your expenses. Determine your income from any sources, such as savings, unemployment benefits or intermittent gigs, and allocate it to cover essential expenses like housing, groceries and debt payments.
Look for areas to reduce expenses, such as by cooking at home, cutting back on entertainment costs and shopping smartly. You could also cancel or pause subscriptions that you don’t actively use to make more room in your budget. Being proactive in trimming unnecessary expenses will help you make the most of your available resources.
If your savings aren’t sufficient to cover your expenses, consider exploring alternative sources of income. Freelancing, part-time gigs or remote work opportunities can provide some financial stability during this period. Services like Upwork, TaskRabbit and Fiverr offer opportunities to showcase your skills and earn income on a flexible basis.
Frequently asked questions
Some tips for saving money on gas include:
- Carpool or use public transportation whenever possible.
- Maintain your vehicle’s efficiency by keeping tires inflated, getting regular tune-ups and using the recommended grade of motor oil.
- Switch to a fuel-efficient vehicle.
- Use a gas app that can show you the most affordable gas station options.
First, make it a habit to turn off lights, appliances and electronics when not in use. Consider switching to energy-efficient alternatives, such as LED bulbs and those that have Energy Star ratings.
Additionally, it’s important to moderate thermostat use. You can do this by using window coverings to minimize heat gain during the summer and keeping ducts and vents clean. According to energy company Con Edison, each degree you set the thermostat above 68 degrees Fahrenheit in cooler weather contributes to 3 percent more energy usage.
While there’s no single best way to find employment, there are a number of free resources you can use to look for jobs and make connections in your desired industry. Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor are a great place to start searching for job openings. You can also use LinkedIn to build work connections and look for job postings.
Regular reconciliation allows you to stay on top of your finances and identify any issues promptly. Retrieve your monthly bank statements from your bank and review the transactions, making sure they match up to your own records. Once all transactions have been reviewed and adjusted, ensure the ending balance matches between your records and the bank statement, and address any discrepancies by contacting your bank. This process will allow you to keep an updated picture of your account balance and help you establish a reasonable budget.