Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.

How to Tweak Your Budget When Unemployed

By Jackie Lam
April 23, 2020



  1. First, Apply for Unemployment 
  2. Calculate Your Benefits
  3. List Out All of Your Expenses 
  4. Look at Your Money Sources
  5. Lower Payments
  6. Tweak Your Budget
  7. How to Move Forward

Have you lost your job? 

You are not alone. 

Recently, more than 3 million workers applied for unemployment. While being in this position is tough, there are some helpful things you can do to tweak your budget when you’re suddenly out of work. Take a look.

First, Apply for Unemployment 

Before you sit down to adjust your budget, make sure you apply for unemployment benefits. You can find how to get unemployment benefits through your state using

Unemployment can offer you funds to help pay your bills while you look for work. The amount you receive will depend on where you live and your salary. But with the new stimulus package that was recently signed into law, you may see a bump of $600 a week added to your benefit payout for up to four months. 

Calculate Your Benefits

If you’re unemployed, you’ll want to take advantage of all available benefits. You can start by tweaking your budget and calculating your benefits so you can adjust everything. 

For example, determine how much you’ll receive in unemployment benefits. You may also qualify for SNAP and get food assistance. You can also check out to find free or low-cost services that can help. Once you have those numbers or the estimates, you can better determine your budget. 

List Out All of Your Expenses 

Go through your bank account and review your expenses for the last 60 days. For the purpose of this exercise, printing out statements is helpful. Next to each purchase, you can write whether it’s “essential” or “not essential”. 

Once you’ve gone through all of your expenses, write on a separate piece of paper all of the essential expenses. These are typically housing, transportation, groceries, and  insurance. That should be your main budget right now. 

If possible, you can look at your non-essentials and maybe keep a few things, like a coffee run once a week. But, in general, you’ll want to stick to the essentials. Lastly, add up the cost of all of your essentials. This will be your bare-bones budget that includes all of the things you need to live. 

Look at Your Money Sources

Although you may not have a traditional income at this time, you still want to do an inventory of all of your money sources. Check how much money you have in the following areas:

  • Checking account
  • Savings account
  • Investment accounts
  • Unemployment check or direct deposit via unemployment debit card
  • Tenant rent
  • Any side gig income (such as babysitting or Instacart for example)

From there, compare your money sources with your bare-bones budget. How far can your money take you right now? 

Lower Payments

While tweaking your budget, see if you can lower your payments. There may be some mortgage and rent relief on the way, although this will likely vary by state. 

Some credit card companies may also work with you during this time. And, the recent coronavirus stimulus bill just put federal student loan payments on pause for six months until September 30. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include private student loans. 

With a few calls, you may be able to put other payments on hold as well. So, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and contact your lender or loan servicer. 

💸 💸 💸 Budget a little tighter than usual? Cut back by shopping for cheaper car insurance with Insurify. You can save up to $996 a year with Insurify.

Tweak Your Budget

A budget is a way to direct your money where you want it to go. So, set a specific dollar amount next to each expense. The goal is to stick to those dollar amounts each month. Obviously, some essential expenses may be the same every month. But if you include some non-essentials, be sure to budget a number that you can afford like $20 for Starbucks.

Once you have a dollar amount for each expense for the month, your budget is ready. You can even keep track of that budget through online apps like Mint or Tiller. Or, you can keep everything written down. Regardless of whether you use paper or an app,  the key is to track your spending. 

How to Move Forward

The current economic climate has thrown all of us for a loop. So, don’t feel bad or guilty if you’re out of work. The best you can do is adjust your budget, take advantage of unemployment benefits, and lower your expenses where possible. On top of that, you can see about doing side gigs or even selling stuff you don’t need. And know this: We’re all in this together and eventually, things will change. 


The privacy policies for the owners of the websites may differ from our privacy policies. Please review the privacy policies and security indicators displayed on the external websites before providing any personal information. The Issuer of your card, The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A. neither endorses nor guarantees any of the information, recommendations, optional programs, products or services advertised, offered by, or made available through the external website (“Products and Services”) and disclaim any liability for any failure of the Products and Services

As you know, Chime is constantly looking for ways to help you live a more healthy financial life without unnecessary fees. We partner with other businesses and are paid to offer their services on our site. This compensation may affect how and where products appear on the site and in what order you see them. Chime may not always include competitors providing similar services.

This page is for informational purposes only. Chime does not provide financial, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for financial, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. The Chime Visa® Credit Builder Card and the Chime Visa® Cash Rewards Card are issued by Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see back of your Card for its issuing bank.

While Chime doesn’t issue personal checkbooks to write checks, Chime Checkbook gives you the freedom to send checks to anyone, anytime, from anywhere. See your issuing bank’s Deposit Account Agreement for full Chime Checkbook details.

By clicking on some of the links above, you will leave the Chime website and be directed to a third-party website. The privacy practices of those third parties may differ from those of Chime. We recommend you review the privacy statements of those third party websites, as Chime is not responsible for those third parties' privacy or security practices.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

© 2013-2023 Chime. All Rights Reserved.