Unemployment: Supplemental Income Ideas

If you've lost your job and are unemployed, it’s important to stay positive and search systematically in order to find a new job you'll enjoy.

But in the meantime, if you need to make ends meet, here are a few ideas for interim income.

Temporary Work during Unemployment

Temping can be a stopgap to help generate income, keep you busy and even create new opportunities. Most temporary positions require no initial interview (except with the employment agency) and pay on a weekly basis. Use these opportunities to explore other lines of work and gain new contacts.

If you have specialized knowledge and skills, you may be equipped for independent consulting assignments. Contract work often pays well, although it lacks benefits and job security. Get out the Rolodex to pursue this line of work, as your professional contacts will be most likely to offer these types of assignments.

Odd jobs can boost the bank balance, as well. Think along the lines of helping people move, babysitting, dog walking, house sitting, or caring for the elderly.

Tutoring students in math, science, English, or English as a Second Language (ESL) can provide another source of income. While formal positions through schools may require a certificate or bachelor’s degree, non-school-related positions might not.

Loans from Family & Friends during Unemployment

When you find yourself facing unemployment, family or friends may be willing to lend you money, or they may agree to be a cosigner or guarantor of a loan with you if they have good credit.

Working with Creditors during Unemployment

Some creditors are willing to negotiate with you during a period of unemployment and may even be willing to suspend your payments for a period of time. Look into whether you can reorganize any outstanding loans to reduce interest payments and prevent them from compounding.

Start by contacting creditors to request lower rates and to ask how to prevent late fee penalties. Or consider asking a lender if you can consolidate your debts for a lower overall interest rate. But remember, although debt consolidation may shuffle your obligations, it does not erase them.

Credit card companies will sometimes transfer your balances as a promotional courtesy, but the introductory interest rates may only last a few months before being replaced with higher ones.

Other Sources of Income during a Job Loss

Being unemployed can give you a chance to liquidate some of your assets: clear out unworn clothes and other items from your crowded closets and bring in some extra cash through eBay, Craigslist, trading sites, or a yard sale. Consider selling other items of personal property such as unused, non-essential electronic devices, and other household items as a source of supplemental income.

Eliminate non-essential expenses like gym and movie memberships (which you may be able to freeze for a period of time) and secondary phone services or lines. Reduce other expenses like electricity bills by turning off lights and using fans instead of running the air conditioning all day. 

If you don't mind sharing your space, you might consider renting out a room or your garage, or using an online service to house short-term lodgers. If you choose this option, make sure to prepare a written agreement for sublets, even if you’re renting to acquaintances. But recognize that this is a legal document and arrangement that can create legal obligations for you.

Finally, joining focus groups for market research or participating in surveys is a fun way to earn some supplemental income. Spots are often limited, but these groups can pay up to $100 an hour. Contact universities, large manufacturing companies or specialized marketing firms to see what opportunities exist.

To learn what benefits and tax credits you could be eligible for during unemployment, check out our Unemployment Compensation and Benefits Checklists article.


This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and irs.gov for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.