Okay, I lied, but not intentionally--but I wanted to share these resources. If you know anyone else who is facing unemployment or is already unemployed, here is a list of resources you can send them. You can quickly google to find the relevant information. I recommend that people apply to these programs as early as they qualify and do a lot of planning because there are still a lot of expenses that unemployment wages and these other programs will not cover. Careful planning can help extend resources greatly. I'll explain why it's crucial to apply early below.
My list of resources:
-Nonprofit debt management (whee, medical debts; some debt management is actually a scam, so be careful)
-Free school breakfasts/lunches for kids
-Food stamps (actually a debit card these days, (households with disability often qualify earlier)
-WIC for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have young children (they have increased nutritional needs)
-Utilities assistance (telephone as well as electricity, people on food stamps automatically qualify)
-Section 8 (housing assistance, government voucher)
-Medicaid for children, though there may be a waiting list; also for adults before COBRA expires (apply early)
-Free medical clinics for those without insurance
-AFDC/TANF (aid to families with dependent children; not sure if unemployed people qualify)
It's good for adults with medical problems to stay on COBRA if at all possible to ensure insurability with a new carrier (some still won't cover if you've been treated for a particular illness in the past 6 months). Some drug companies also offer "scholarship" programs or help with copays. Food pantries if needed, discount clothing stores and consignment stores can offer resources for job hunters.
Here's why you need to apply early. Despite all this assistance, even if you live with family to extend resources, as we may very well do if we don't get jobs in a few to six months, money will not go far. Applying early and watching to see when you qualify allows you to hang in there until you can get a job and to stretch every dollar as far as it will go. The maximum unemployment assistance is about $800 a month, and that's limited to about 8 months. For us, this will pay our medical premiums, car insurance, and car. Not covered would be any activities for your children, gas for getting to job interviews, even used clothing/shoes, haircuts (necessary for job interviews), school supplies, personal products or laundry detergent, etc. That's why managing money painstakingly is crucial. And this is why I also believe the concept of the welfare mother is a myth. People just can't do it since unemployment or AFDC doesn't last forever.
I recommend a website called Money Saving Mom for food shipping and coupon ideas and lists of products you can get free with coupons--a Sunday paper will more than pay for itself if you use a store that offers double and triple coupons. Watch store sales carefully--we recently purchased $180 of groceries for $100. Pasta, rice, beans, and potatoes are cheap additions to meals (though be careful not to overdo the carbs). Eggs are inexpensive and good protein, as is peanut butter for those who can eat it. Homemade soups can hold a lot of vegetables with no nutrients lost. Watch for the grocery flyers that come in the mail--when you add a double or triple coupon to a box of cereal, you can get it for $.50. If you or your kids eat meat, watch for it on sale. With these kinds of sales, you can get occasional treats like frozen pizza. In general, though, of course avoid convenience foods. You can make up several meals in advance on a weekend day and put some in the freezer. You can also buy chicken in larger packages, preshred it ready to go in other meals, and freeze it in divided portions; the same with ground turkey or ground beef. Just be careful not to buy more food than you'll use and use what you already have. There are lots of ideas for frugal, cheap, easy, and nutritious meals on the web.
I do plan being back for Blogging Against Disablism Day and will be back soon. We hope that we can get jobs soon and this will be very temporary. In the meantime, I really wanted to pass this on in case there's helpful information someone else needs. I have to say no severance pay sucks. If this had happened a few months ago, we'd have had 6 months of salary too. I would prefer to still be an earning family and keep paying our bills ourselves, taking care of ourselves and hope we will be again very soon.
(Update: we can still make it about six months in the house, but we will be moving to the in-laws immediately if we sell the house.)