At Least 25 States Are Slashing Unemployment Payments — Here’s What To Do
Split the United States in half.
In one half — 25 states — people who are out of work will keep on receiving a $300-a-week federal unemployment extension through at least September.
In the other half of the country — the other 25 states — that extra money is about to disappear a lot quicker. Most of these states have decided to end the payments in June, with a few to follow in July. (Hey, no judgment here — the Penny Hoarder is based in one of those states.)
Governors in those latter 25 states are planning an early end to the extra $300 weekly benefit provided by the federal American Relief Plan. Unemployed workers can still qualify for state benefits, but many will face stricter requirements, such as mandated documented job searches.
Even in states that are keeping these federal benefits going, those payments are still slated to end by Sept. 6.
If you’ve been counting on that money to help make ends meet, we’ve got tips for how you can make up the difference.
What’s Your State Doing?
First, let’s see what your state is up to. Let’s sort the states by when they’re ending the $300 weekly federal benefit.
June 12: Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri
June 19: Alabama, Idaho, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming
June 26: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah
June 27: Montana
June 30: South Carolina
July 3: Maryland and Tennessee
July 10: Arizona
July 19: Indiana
How are you going to make up the difference? We’ve got some ideas for you to consider:
1. Clean Out Your Closet
Take a hard look at your closet. Over the years, you’ve probably collected all kinds of things you don’t really need anymore. Comb through your items and, if you haven’t used them in a while, sell them and make some money.
You don’t need to go through the hassle of having a garage sale, either. Try selling your items online. Market clothes and other random knick knacks to folks in your area through an app like Letgo.
Or if you have old CDs or DVDs — or even smartphones — try selling them to a platform like Decluttr. You scan your items’ barcodes with the app and then print out a label for free shipping. Toss ‘em in a box and be done with them.
You might be surprised by how much money you can make just from cleaning!
2. Cancel Your Car Insurance
If you need to free up some more room in your budget, one of the easiest places to start is to cut back on your monthly bills — like your current car insurance.
In most places, it’s straight up illegal not to have it, so you’ve probably accepted that you’re going to pay through the nose for it. But you don’t have to.
A free website called Savvy will help you find the best rates — in just 30 seconds. In fact, it saves people an average of $826 a year.
All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. Best yet: This is totally free.
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.
3. Make an Extra $225 this Month
If we told you that you could get paid to watch cooking videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.
No way, right? But we’re serious.
A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute, you might watch a chef teach you how to make fudge brownies, and the next, you might get the latest celebrity gossip.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut to you.
Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos, which could make a serious dent in your grocery bill.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll get a $5 bonus to get you started.
4. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper
Everybody’s got to stock up at the grocery store. You may as well earn a little money back while your purchases are being bagged up.
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards.
Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.
5. Pocket up to 5% Cash Back at the Grocery Store
If you’re not getting rewarded every time you go to the grocery store, you’re missing out on extra money.
Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back on your debit card purchases. For example, right now it gives you 0.5% cash back at Walmart and Target, and 5% cash back at places like Brandless. (For a full list of cash-back percentages, visit Aspiration’s website.)
It takes just five minutes to sign up for a new debit card with the Aspiration Spend and Save account.
Never leave extra money behind at the grocery store again.
6. Save on Your Online Purchases
A free website called Rakuten has connections with more than 2,500 stores, which means it can give you a cash kickback when you shop at one. When we checked, we found deals at Amazon, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Boxed and Walmart.
It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account. All you need is an email address. Plus, if you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10.
Now you don’t have to worry about fitting that 36-pack of toilet paper in your trunk or hauling a box of cat litter across the store. Just have someone deliver it to your door and earn cash back along the way!
7. Stop Overpaying Online
Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert any time you’re shopping on Amazon or Walmart.com and you’re about to get ripped off?
That’s exactly what this free service does.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact pair of shoes is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.*
In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
8. Ask For Help — Even If You Normally Wouldn’t
If you find yourself in a particularly dire situation, do something you normally wouldn’t: Raise your hand and ask for help.
Sure, many of us would rather do anything but ask for help, but these are unprecedented times, and life’s a little bit out of our control right now.
For example, if you’re struggling to make your mortgage payments, reach out to your lender. You might have to provide proof that you’ve been laid off or need financial assistance, but it never hurts to ask about your relief options.
This same idea can be applied to any of your other bills — rent, utilities, cell phone and car payments.
You won’t know the answer unless you ask.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.