NOTE: I wrote the original version of this article which ran in the Employment Press Newspaper when I was their Managing Editor back in 1992 during this country’s last big recession. I found it so relevant in today’s world of work that I decided to update it and make it available here.


Some working people would love to trade in hard-earned dollars for more time off. If you are unemployed, you've got what they yearn. When you look at the glass as half-full and start to experience the luxury of the time you have available to you (if you can get to that point), you’ll worry less and start to enjoy life more.

Unemployment gives us a taste of what it's like to have time on our hands, but the look is skewed. It doesn't have to be. How you view the glass (as half full or half empty) is up to you, and unemployment is no exception.

Since stress is not an event but a perception of an event, you make the choice. You have two: be depressed and worry daily, or enjoy your time off to do many of the things you've always wanted to do…if only you had the time. Certainly, when you're worried about making ends meet, that may be easier said than done. But it is possible. Think for a moment about this: Remember when you were working and used to say,  "If only I had the time, I would…" Or, "Boy what I'd give to have the summer (or winter) off!"

If you are temporarily unemployed, you have the invaluable commodity of TIME available to you and time is a commodity that can work in your favor if you allow it. But before we do that, let's get that other lovely commodity out of the way first: MONEY. Unfortunately, the way it usually works is that when we have the money, we don't have the time. Now that you have the time, you may not have the money. But there are ways to get around that and still look at that glass as half full.

A good place to start is with unemployment compensation. It may be measly compared to your previous salary, but it does help hold us over and it runs a lot longer these days than it used to. It may not pay all the bills, but it certainly helps pay some of them. So, to start, we have to accept the fact that this is how much our income could be for however long it may take to secure a new position. (Having a personally branded cover letter and resume crafted will measurably cut down that time for you and should be one of the first things you consider taking care of.)


Following are some strategies that may ease your worry a little so you can start to enjoy your time off. Before putting any of them into place, I urge you to consider your own finances carefully and seek professional advice.

Budgeting: By proactively determining which bills you can regularly pay on time and which ones may need to be late and making a conscious decision about this up front, you won’t have to go through this stressful mental exercise every month. And psychologically you may worry less if only a small number of bills do not get paid on time versus holding the larger ones aside as you won’t receive as many harassing collection calls. I would first determine which bills affect your credit rating (such as your mortgage and loans) and those that may not (such as your utilities and cable TV) as you’ll want to preserve your credit rating as much as you can. You may wish to consider paying the smallest ones first thereby tackling a higher number that are paid on time.

Credit Card Insurance: If you're one of those lucky people who live in a state that allows credit card insurance against unemployment, this is the time to call your lenders if you purchased this protection from them to put it in force: the insurance carrier will pay those monthly payments for you while you're unemployed.

Collection Agencies: Even bills that do not generally affect your credit rating may do so if they are very late and sent to a collection agency. Usually, though, you can work out payment terms with the lender, collection agency, or attorney to pay lower monthly amounts.

Temporary Assistance: There are sources families may reach out to to help catch up with mortgage payments and/or utilities. One is through the Department of Social Services. One-time payments are available for those who are not eligible for medicaid to help you catch up with your arrears. You will need to show proof that you can thereafter continue to make your payments with no problem. There are percentages involved depending upon your other income and expenses. Check with your local Social Services office for additional information.

Grants: Another source is through grants issued by the government through local charitable organizations, whereby you would present a denial letter from Social Services, and they will issue the funds to help you catch up with your mortgage or rent. Check with your local charitable organizations in your area. Both the temporary assistance and grants generally require that you have no other funds available and that you present a denial letter from a financial institution regarding the issuance of a second mortgage.

So, do you think you can ease your mind somewhat for the time being once you've come up with a feasible plan you can stick with? Then let's go to the next step…


Do you want to really enjoy your TIME OFF?  I mean have a blast and do all or some of those things you haven't been able to? Like fix up your house/apartment, go on vacation, make your aspirations happen, how about "party"?  Well then, DO IT!

To make it (unemployment being the "it" word) work in your favor, you must adjust your thought process. It has been proven to work that if you say out loud to yourself and others every day, you can convince yourself of what it is you want to do. (And personally, I believe in “What you think about you bring about.” Inclusive of “I’m going to find a job real soon.”) Start telling yourself positive things:  "I'm going to make this work in my favor."  "I'm going to enjoy doing many of those things I couldn't do when I was working."  "I'm happy I have the TIME off."  "I'm going to use this TIME wisely."  (If need be, pick up a couple of those subliminal tapes that provide those positive messages to your subconscious.)

Then go and do those things. You've wanted to spruce up your house or apartment? DO IT. Of course, you won't be redesigning your whole landscape, but you can paint the walls (use lively colors to encourage creativity, cool colors to promote serenity, etc.). You may not be able to call in a contractor to put on an extension, but if you're handy, is there something you can do?  Like semi-finish off the garage. Or clean out that long-needed basement, put everything to one side, and put up some 2 x 4's and make that spare guest or recreation room? Paint and structural lumber aren't that expensive. It's the labor that always costs. And you've got THE TIME. It'll keep your mind occupied (you need to do this), help you feel constructive (literally) and make you feel like you're accomplishing something.

Sometimes that "little" amount spent is for the best. I'm in favor of cleansing your psyche whenever you need it. Do things that help you uplift your spirit when you need it. (Tell yourself it's important, and don't allow yourself to feel guilty.) After all, remember this:  Unemployment is temporary. Temporary can be longer during a recession, but it's still temporary. Chances are you'll have a job sooner than you'd expect and it really won't hurt. 

You've wanted—no, you've needed—a vacation. TAKE IT! Who says you have to stay in a plush hotel far away? What about picking a moderately priced hotel within driving distance? For example, here on Long Island, one can take a train to New York City for the day, or drive to Jersey shore or Newport Beach, Rhode Island, or take the ferry to Mystic Harbor, Connecticut. You have friends or family between here and Florida? They keep asking you to "Come on down."  DO IT!  Pack up the family and do something you wouldn't do if you had to rush…drive to Florida or Virginia Beach.  You have all that wonderful commodity in the world. TAKE YOUR TIME. Stop and smell the roses! Hear the sounds of the beach. Feel the warmth of the sun. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy your family and friends (had much of a chance to do that when you used to work those long hours?) What'll it cost? Gas and tolls. That's it. Buy the food at each home you visit along the way. They'll be grateful! You won't put them out, and you'll only be spending for the same things you would if you were home…on groceries.  Disney World you may have to make another time. Drive by and wave, "I'll be back!"

What about a new business or side jobs? Ever want to try something else? One thing you may find out, as many unemployed individuals are experiencing, it's great to be in control of yourself instead of an organization doing it for you. It's wonderful to get up when you wake up or feel like it, not when you have to. Of course, don't overdo hanging out in bed all day, it can become addicting and you can get into a slump. Set a time for yourself every day. Say, "I'm going to get up at 10:00." Or how about, "It's great to get up at 7:00 every day and realize I have the whole day to myself, not dedicated to an organization for someone else's well-being."  Or better yet, wake up naturally to your own biological clock.

Many management individuals are finding entrepreneurship out of necessity, and loving it. YOU CAN DO IT. Take that hobby you love doing and make something out of it. Anything! You like crafts? Make them. Sell them at firehouse sales. Have a garage sale (from when you cleaned up that garage or basement), and sell the stuff. Paint. Throw sales parties (plasticware, make-up, holiday stuff). Start a franchise. Or train for a new career, write two resumes and double your chances of getting a job! JUST DO IT.  Don't procrastinate. Just make up your mind to enjoy that special commodity … TIME.

And let's not forget…PARTY TIME. Remember "B.Y.O.B."?  Provide the chips and invite your friends. You know, the ones you couldn't hang out with too long when you were working because you had to get up early in the morning. And then you can all sing, "Take This Job…"

Just think…when you're back at work (AND YOU WILL BE), do you want to have to ask yourself…Why didn't I DO IT when I had the TIME? Or "Gee if only I would have accomplished that certain something that would have made me so very happy. Shucks!  Now I gotta work again. No more TIME left." 

Good Luck! P.S. While you're having all that fun, don't forget to save some TIME to look for a job. ;)

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Looking at the Glass as Half-full During Unemployment

By Evelyn U. Salvador