Unemployment Prepping: What You Can Do Beforehand

In an increasing unpredictable world, employment security is becoming more of an issue for households trying to maintain their livelihood. A staggering 31 million Americans are on the unemployment rolls and even more have been wiped from the rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out. More than likely, millions who are still employed have had to deal a pay cut in some form or fashion.

Job loss is one of those personal emergencies that can strike without warning. Those who have been affected by unemployed know all too well of the stress involved in this “personal economic collapse”.  That said, steps can be taken beforehand to buffer and prepare your household for this unexpected and unwelcoming disaster.

Keep the Basics in Mind

Similar to any type of disaster planning, your primary concerns for a personal SHTF event are to keep the basics in mind: food, utilities and shelter. As long as you have food on the table and a roof over your head, you can manage most issues that come your way. Before an employment crisis in imminent, you want to plan for it by saving money and accruing shelf stable foods. As a goal, plan for 1 month of food and money reserved for utility and rent/mortgage. Then, add more food and saved money to your unemployment stockpile. Your overall goal is to have a 6 month supply of food and money reserved for utility and rent/mortgage. Don’t forget about these unemployment tips!

In Case of Emergency, Cut the Budget

When job loss occurs, your finances will quickly dwindle and your budget may simply be too tight to take care of everything. Choices must be made as to what bills can be paid and which ones will need to be put off until the budget allows. If you decide to leave some bills unpaid for a while, make sure the unpaid bills are those of unsecured loans. Things that are less important are credit cards and non-essential monthly bills such as cable and cell phones. Although you may not want to go without these things, it’s better than becoming homeless. Remember the prepper saying, “Categorize your ‘nice to haves’ and your ‘need to haves’.” As well, be aware that skipping these payments will damage your credit rating, however, it’s better to have poor credit than to have hungry children. Prioritize by paying for food, utilities and shelter before anything else.


From a preparedness perspective, food is something that can be purchased in advance of such an event. Building your food stockpile has a layered effect on your preparedness endeavors and can be used when unexpected emergencies occurs. If you have a decent stockpile of foods, not only can you be confident in your ability to feed your family during difficult times, but the fact that you don’t need to purchase groceries can allow you to funnel your limited money towards your other two concerns, which are keeping a roof over your head and keeping the utilities paid (which keeps lights on and the water running). When choosing food with which to build your pantry, you will want to focus on items that can serve multiple purposes. For example, dry milk can be used to make a calcium rich beverage, in baked goods and as a coffee whitener. Wheatberries are more valuable than flour because not only can they be ground to make flour, but they can be cooked and served as a hot cereal or in a pilaf, or they can be sprouted to provide fresh greens when vegetables are scarce. Purchasing items in bulk and on sale will help you to build your food storage pantry quickly. Store what you eat, and eat what you store, rotating items in to be sure and consume them before their expiration dates.


One of the major expenses in running a household is paying for utilities such as heat, electricity, water and garbage pick-up. Start now to cut your dependence on utilities as much as possible. (This has the added benefit of lowering your bills, freeing up more money to purchase preparedness items.) By being in the habit of using utilities frugally, it will be less of a change for your family during the stressful time when this becomes a necessity. Try these simple ways to reduce your consumption of utilities:

  • Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer.
  • Use passive solar to warm your house on sunny winter days
  • Use room darkening window coverings to help shield the interior of your home from the hot summer sun.
  • Spend time together as a family, lighting only one room in the evening.
  • Use your crockpot instead of your oven, especially during hot weather.
  • Collect rainwater for all of your outside gardening needs.
  • Reduce the time spent in the shower (Try using a kitchen timer)
  • Hang laundry to dry instead of using your electric dryer.
  • Recharge garden lights by day and bring them inside and place them in vases at night.
  • Try cooking using a solar oven if your climate allows.
  • Compost kitchen scraps
  • Take advantage of your community’s recycling program in order to reduce the amount of garbage discarded by your household.

Shelter The most important expense that you will have in an economic SHTF scenario is shelter. Particularly if you have a family, the spectre of homelessness can be terrifying. By reducing your other expenses as much as possible, you can divert your limited money to the task of keeping a roof over your head. As someone who has experienced an unexpected job loss, having an emergency fund is vital to keeping your mortgage or rent paid. Even if you are not a strong believer in fiat currency, if you don’t have some money set aside for a situation in which your income ceases, you could easily lose your family’s home and end up sleeping in a car or homeless shelter. Another proactive step you can take to preparing for a possible loss of wages is to begin now reducing your expenses as much as possible. Can your family scale down to only one vehicle? Do you actually need to go shopping as a recreational activity? Could you restrict dining out and start taking your lunches to school and work? And is your housing situation one that could be scaled down? This isn’t possible in every situation but for many families, moving to a smaller home can lessen monthly payments for both shelter and utilities.

Prepare Before It Happens

No one likes to think about the prospect of losing his or her job. However, this is THE NUMBER ONE MOST LIKELY DISASTER that could strike on a personal level. Even if you think your job is secure, it’s vital to start now to prepare financially for the day that it might vanish.

  • Stockpile at least 3 months of food (but your goal should be 6 months)
  • Start an emergency fund that can pay for 6 months of expenses with no additional income
  • Restructure your outgoing funds to lower your expenses as much as possible.

By simplifying your lifestyle now, you will be able to take a sudden income decrease in stride, without a traumatizing change in the way your family lives. The peace of mind that comes with this type of preparedness is priceless.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published August 22nd, 2013
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5 Responses to Unemployment Prepping: What You Can Do Beforehand

  1. Ken lowder says:

    I had a double whammy when I was fired.  I was arrested too.  It took time and money away from me until the charges were dismissed.  During that time it took a while to get a part time job.  Few folks were willing to hire me while this was pending.  Since then I’ve had nothing but part time jobs as most folks are only hiring part time workers pending obummercare regulations starting up. wages are down too for the same reason. Fortunately I had silver from my closed out ira’s and plenty of food and my garden in place to fall back on.  still it was a ruff time that im still recovering from.

  2. Carl C Prescott says:

    Dark window coverings on the inside of windows will absorb heat.  Good during the heating season, not so good during the cooling season.  To avoid solar heat gain, use light colored blinds or other light colored coverings which will reflect sunlight back to the outside of the house.

  3. Gonzalo says:

    I lost my good job in 2004. Never found another. At that time, I had more than $100K and no debts except my mortgage, a standard 30 year acquired when I bought the house.

    I was never able to find another job similar to the one I had. The result, I have spent years doing contractual work or low wage jobs part-time. My house was repossessed in 2012, and I have left behind a trail of debts. Now I am slowly improving my situation since I no longer have a large mortgage, but I am 65. So, six months worth of financial cushion is simply not enough. Take it from me for whom a multi-year cushion was not enough. You buy a house, you make sure you have enough to pay it off is you don’t buy it cash.

    The cushion is not enough unless you can earn enough from the savings and investments to stay at the same level financially as you were before you lost your job. I had more than $100K after I bought the house, but over the eight year period from losing my job to losing my house, my yearly income was always at least $30K lower than what it was before I lost my job.     

  4. Strider55 says:

    We are about to experience an income reduction. My wife now plans to retire next spring instead of two years from now. As a result, I am endeavoring to pay off the mortgage by the time she retires, or close to it.
    Regarding summer window coverings: light-colored awnings will keep the sun out nicely. We have some.

  5. dc.sunsets says:

    Prepare to be (clinically) depressed.

    Losing ones job, even if well-anticipated, is a crushing event. I’m not suggesting joining the Prozac Crowd, I’m just of the view that no matter how prepared you think you are for an inevitable layoff, if you’re like me you aren’t as prepared as you think.

    Forewarned is somehow not always forearmed.  

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