When the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in mid-March, it did more than just put stimulus checks into people’s bank accounts. It also gave workers on unemployment a $300 weekly boost through early September.
Though that boost was implemented at the federal level, states have the right to pull the boost. And so far, 25 states have ended that $300 weekly boost well ahead of the September deadline. In fact, in some states, jobless workers lose their boosted unemployment benefits this month.
If you’re worried your state is going to pull the plug on boosted unemployment, take steps to protect your financial interests. Here are a few key moves to make.
1. Pad your savings as much as possible
To be clear, if your state puts an end to your $300 weekly boost, you’re still likely entitled to your regular state unemployment benefit. But that may not be enough income to live on. If you’re able to put any money into savings from your boosted unemployment checks, do so. That way, you’ll have cash to tap.
2. Start looking for a job now
You may not be ready to return to a job — but that doesn’t mean you can’t look. It’s especially important to prepare for a return to the workforce if you’ve been out of a job for a long time and have a sizable gap on your resume. Not only should you see what opportunities there are, you should pay attention to employers’ requirements. You may, for example, need certain training before you’re eligible for a job you’re interested in, so get the details now.
At the same time, it pays to network — even if you’re not necessarily expecting to get back to a job immediately. Reach out to former colleagues and managers, as well as friends and neighbors, and put the word out that you may soon be looking for work. The more people you enlist to keep their ears open for you, the greater your chances of landing a job.
3. Slash expenses
If your sole income source is unemployment benefits, you may already live an extremely frugal lifestyle. But if there’s a way to lower your expenses, do so. If your lease renews this summer, for example, look for a cheaper home (if moving is an option). The less you spend on living costs, the easier it’ll be to absorb a $300 weekly pay cut.
Remember that, even if they don’t end early, boosted benefits won’t be around forever. Even if your state keeps them through early September, the sooner you prepare for them to end, the less of a blow it might be.
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