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Surviving Unemployment: Free is the key.

July 29, 2011

The best things in life are free.

Free is the key or what your public library can offer you.  Free events keep you sane and your budget on track.  After you found out you were laid off, one of the first things you did was look at your budget with a hatchet.  Anything not vitally necessary was the first to go.  Next, the things you could live without.  But you still didn’t have much left for the food, clothing and shelter; not to mention the taxes, gasoline, fees, insurance, telephone, cable, internet and the costs of finding a job.  When the dust settled you realized that anything free was going to be your best friend.

The trouble is not many things in life are free except at your local public library.  There are free events you can attend for entertainment and enrichment; you just have to change where and what you do.  With a little imagination and a good relationship with a librarian you can keep yourself pretty busy doing interesting things.  Another place to look for free events is in your local newspaper; and by the way, you can find that at your public library too.

What is interesting to note is that many people have been doing these things for a long time; we just never thought about looking into it before because we didn’t have to.   As I mentioned earlier, a little imagination will go a long way in making this time as enjoyable and productive as you can make it. But now we have to watch every penny and stretch every dollar.  Below are some possibilities to get you thinking about what you could do.

  • Family nights:  Instead of dinner and a movie, make a pizza and watch the video you have taking of the family over the years.  Have a theme for the videos–birthday parties, sporting events, school activities, to name a few.  Or take out the photo albums and look at all the great photos you have snapped.
  • Check out your local library:  Did you know many libraries have passes to museums, free DVDs, music CDs, and artwork available totake out in addition to many books, newspapers and magazines?   Call your local library to see what passes they have and to make arrangements to borrow them.
  • Community events:   Check the listings in the local paper for free activities such as street festivals, lectures, concerts, etc.  Many colleges and universities open concerts and lectures to the general public.
  • Sight-see in your own city/town:  Your own city/town has a history that is hidden in plain view.  Visit your local historical center to see what your city offers and then go see them.   If there are statutes in your city, do some research on the people they depict.  Take a walking tour of your city/town to see what other people come to visit.
  • Swim free:  By obtaining a pass you can swim at community lakes, ponds, or swimming pools.  Residents are given a pass to the local swimming hole for a season.
  • Learn a new skill:  find a friend who has the skill you would like to learn and trade lessons by offering to teach them a skill you have.  It is a win/win for both.  Trade with several people to expand your skill set.  Not only can you teach/learn computer skills but cooking, arts and crafts, sports, or anything that interests you.
  • Go on a picnic: Pack a lunch and take it to a park, shady tree, or body of water.  Bring along a ball, Frisbee and some great people.  Or take a good book for some reading for a quiet afternoon.


Do you remember a time before TV when families gathered around the piano and sang songs while someone played?  Or when people gathered at the bandstand in the park and listened to the community band give a concert?  No, neither do I, but I have seen movies on TV where people did that and it looked like fun.  Everyone looked so happy and engaged.  It was a time when most people had library cards and the only things at the library were books, newspapers and magazines. Our parents and grandparents remember.  It was how they lived through the Depression and WWII.  Whether it was the lack of money during the Depression or rationing in WWII, they shared, they saved, they mingled with people, and they were less stressed than we are now.  Give it try for yourself and see what happens.


Arleen Bradley is a certified career coach providing stuck job searchers with the tools they need to find the job of their dreams.

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