Budget as a jobseeker

How to Budget as a Jobseeker

Whether you have just started looking for work, lost your previous job, or are simply wanting to explore your horizons, it’s important to have an idea of your budget. Expenses do not end when you are unemployed, and this can be a scary prospect for any jobseeker with bills to pay and mouths to feed.

So we’ve put together this short guide to help you budget, save, and keep yourself afloat while you are looking for work. By following these simple steps, you can do your part to avoid greater headaches down the line, as well as keep your focus on your job hunt rather than financial troubles.

Are you eligible for jobseeker’s allowance or similar schemes?

This is the first question you should ask yourself, especially if you have been unemployed for a long period of time, or you have recently lost your job. Jobseeker’s Allowance is a government scheme that provides you with regular payments every week, so long as you prove that you are regularly looking for work.

The amount you receive for any benefit scheme will vary depending on your age, work history and circumstances. However, these schemes are designed to support you financially during your job search, and can provide you with a small cushion of support. Receiving some financial aid, even in the short term, will help you in the long term.

To find out whether you are eligible for jobseeker’s allowance, visit this website here. To find out more about financial benefits you could be entitled to, click here.

How much do you spend every month?

The more you don’t know about your own finances – how much you earn, how much you’re spending, etc. – the harder it will be to manage them. Overcome the fear of what you might discover and check your latest bank statement.

It is important to keep a record of how much you are spending. Whether that is with Microsoft Excel, Evernote, or with a pen and paper, make a note of how much you are spending each month. Don’t exclude anything from these calculations. That odd Chinese takeout, or those spontaneous shopping trips, might be doing more damage to your bank account than you realise.

If you’re really determined to control your spending, divide the total number by 4 to see how much you are spending on average every week.

What can you change to reduce spending costs?

You might not like it, but if you’re serious about saving money while you are searching for work, then you need to start making some changes.

Go through everything that you spent money on – Fuel, food, video games, everything – and divide the expenses into two columns: Needs and Wants.

Your Needs column should include things that you need to spend money on in order to stay healthy, safe and secure. This includes food, bills, repairs and so on.

Items in your Wants column are things that you do not have to spend money on, but that you find yourself purchasing out of habit or pleasure. This could be lottery tickets, restaurant meals, unnecessary clothes.

Here is an example of a Needs/Wants table:


Food shop – £70

Fuel for car – £50

Electric bills – £120


Wagamamas – £48

Primark Shoes – £2.20

Video game – £30

Once you have figured out your Needs and Wants, assess what you are willing to cut or change. Is it cheaper to take the bus than to drive into work? Do you really need another new pair of trainers?

Decide what to cut, what to change, and then follow through. You may find yourself with more money at the end of the month than you realise.

Can you use your skills to earn a little extra money?

One of the worst things about job hunting is the waiting. Waiting for jobs to appear, for employers to get back to you, for the offer or rejection after a job interview.

Instead of letting that time go to waste, why not use to earn a little extra cash alongside your job hunt?

Think about your skills and how you can use them. Could you offer to walk people’s dog’s for an hour or two everyday? Could you bake some cakes and sell them for a tidy profit? The ideas don’t need to be big – they just need to utilise your skills in a way that can earn you a little bit of spending money.

Plus, these little jobs can give you valuable experience for your next job interview, and allow you to step away from the job hunt without feeling like you are wasting valuable time.


Here at Merit Recruitment, we want all of our candidates to find the right job for them. Whether that is warehouse work, office work, or something else entirely, we will do everything we can to see you in a fulfilling job.

To find out more about us, click here or call us on 01256 471 508. You can also pop by our offices in central Basingstoke for a quick confidential chat.

CV Advice, Interview Advice