How To Survive The Real World: Zero Income Living After College

So, what do you do when you are jobless? Living with no income, or earning less than you need to pay your bills? The absolute first thing you need to do is realize one thing. They aren’t going to send you to jail simply because you are broke. Nobody is going to kill you. And one day soon you will be able to not just survive but thrive.

The second thing you have to do is learn a little basic math: calculate what you need to earn weekly to pay all of your bills, and then some. Once you’ve got the number, it’s time to figure out how to get there.


When you’re broke, the number one thing you need to do is learn to be cheap. It’s obvious, but not always easy. This means that must learn to appreciate the free things in life. Going to park with friends, Playing with pets, volunteering, learn new skills online, and exercise are all good examples of things you can do when money is tight. In other words, this is not the time to buy new clothes, go Christmas shopping, or get a new credit card. Limit all spending to the essentials – food, bills, and transportation. (Beer may have been considered a necessity in college but do not mistake it for food.)

Nurture Your Mind And Live Simple.

It’s stressful and mentally exhausting to be broke. It can easily lead to feelings of depression and serious anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to remember that no matter what happens, there are no ordinary moments, and there is always something to be thankful for.  Try imagining the worst-case scenario – chances are, there is still someone – a parent, sibling or friend perhaps – that would be there to help you out if you really needed it.

Also be sure to make it one of your priorities to maintain a fun lifestyle – but do it frugally. Instead of spending money at the theater and on cable save your cash and consider Netflix. Trust me making popcorn n your microwave instead of buying at the theater will save you boat loads.

Know When To Ask For Help.

If you have friends or family that can help you, graciously accept. If you know someone who is working (I’m sure you do) ask if they are willing to help you get a job. You would be surprised how much easier it is to find a job when you have a strong recommendation.

If you really really really need money consider asking a family member, sibling or close friend. Remember that the times aren’t easy for anyone and the person you ask may not be able to offer you much. Be thankful, and don’t rely on it. Make a note to yourself to return the favor for someone else living with no income when things improve for you – And REALLY DO IT. If you are forced for money, keep a tally of what they give you and aim to pay it back – even if it’s years from now and even if they won’t accept.

Save Your Pennies.

OK, not literally, but pay close attention to every opportunity to save. You have to understand that survival in the real world requires ingenuity. Nobody expects you to collect bottles and turn them in for change but you can always be creative. Learn how to cook large, cheap meals like soup, for example, that will last several days. Shop online, clearance racks and thrift stores. You can even make a game out of saving money with friends.


  • Buy household items like toilet paper or laundry detergent in large quantities so you save in the long run.
  • Try coordinating a car-pool with coworkers to save on gas.
  • Cancel your data plan, trust me you will survive.
  • Drink at home, or pre-game before going out, or don’t drink at all.
  • Quit smoking, its expensive and unhealthy!
  • Have movie dates at your house rather than going to the movies.

Remember every little bit helps.

Work Your Ass Off!

Now is not the time to sit on the couch and play FIFA. Do whatever you possibly can to get a job, or two, or three. Work hard, give your best – even if it’s a job unrelated to your field of study. Look for unique opportunities, like part-time jobs that will provide benefits to help your situation – my job as a food runner meant a significant discount on food and a great place to meet potential roommates. Take advantage of any special skills you may have by doing freelance work for extra money: If you can knit, make scarves and sell them on Etsy, Bigcartel, Storenvy, or Ebay. If you know CSS or Photoshop, offer your skills on Craigslist. Post signs in your neighborhood to walk dogs, babysit tutor or even throw out trash. If your area has a Taskrabbit program consider applying. Do anything, Get creative. If you work hard, your efforts will NOT go unnoticed.

Remember above all else that it is worth it and that it gets better!

3 Comments on “How To Survive The Real World: Zero Income Living After College

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