With Covid-19 having no clear end in sight, my employer offered everyone the chance to either keep working or take a leave of absence. There weren’t enough hours for everyone, and I chose to take a leave of absence. It’s like quarantine and lockdown all over again. I have too much free time but no motivation to do the things I can do. I’ll figure that out at some point. For now, I’m enjoying being able to collect unemployment. With the additional money from the CARES Act, I’m living comfortably. As comfortable as I can at least.
The lease on my apartment ends August 31 so I’m looking around for a new place. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to move in since my income is solely unemployment right now. I’m sure if needed, my landlord will let me stay a little longer. I’d prefer to find a new place for reasons I won’t discuss now. I’m considering an apartment complex with a dishwasher as I don’t have one. Many of them are either too far away from my job which I return to on September 30 or they’re out of my budget. Things to consider.
I’m saving up as much as I can, but I’m concerned the CARES Act will not get renewed past July 31. I’ll have enough to get through September but it’s everything after that I’m most concerned about. It’s frustrating that I have not received my $1200 stimulus check. It’s frustrating that the Senate doesn’t appear to have any interest in passing another economic aid bill. Everything happening in the United States is frustrating. But it’s about damn time. Some of these issues have been going on for over 200 years. I hope changes over the next decade can move the country and world into something better.
As the whole pandemic situation calms down in the United States, many places have reopened their services. I recently went back to work but with limited hours. I’m thankful to return to work but I fear I won’t be able to make enough money to support myself. This is nothing compared to the millions of people who are unemployed due to Covid-19. But I still worry because I could only get part-time work and many of my other gigs were in events and entertainment. To my knowledge, events and gatherings are still canceled.
So, with this return to work, I have also cut back to only my essential expenses. I have rent, the electric bill, the phone bill, groceries, and a reduced student loan payment. That’s all. Some good things about returning to work include getting cash tips to use for the laundromat, getting out of the house now and then, and walking to work gets me my daily exercise. But with part-time work, it’s only enough to cover my expenses with not much left over. At least I have a job when so many don’t.
I do continue applying for jobs hoping to get something full-time. Full-time work would allow me to live easy. The downside is I would not have as much free time for writing. I’m about two-thirds complete writing the first draft of a novel and I have two more novel ideas in line. I also have a short story collection and a couple poetry collections in the works. And then there are the posts for this blog. If I could afford it, I would write full-time. That, however, doesn’t pay the bills. Once I finish my first novel and edit it to something I like, I’ll submit to literary agents and try for a publishing deal. Fingers crossed.
With everything going on in the United States right now, many people are learning about unemployment. They’re learning about it because most of them never needed it before. Some benefits have been added due to the pandemic, but there are still some things people don’t about unemployment in general. For example, it is a service one must pay into in order to receive the benefits. That means self-employed folks who don’t put money away for unemployment will not receive unemployment benefits. That’s under normal circumstances. Supposedly, things have been put in place to help self-employed folks who’ve lost work due to Covid-19.
When one applies for unemployment, the service looks at how much you paid into that service during the previous year. I applied for unemployment this year. They reviewed what I paid in 2019 to determine how much I’ll receive. A small percentage of money is taken from every paycheck. The more money one makes, the more money is put away. The employer also matches the amount from each paycheck. Someone making minimum wage will receive less than someone making an annual salary in unemployment benefits. The most I can get is $800 per month. That does not include the $600 extra that everyone is supposed to receive due to Covid-19.
Now, I understand that they give a certain amount each week so one’s unemployment can last up to six months or even a year. That makes sense. But it feels unfair that, under normal circumstances, I would get less than minimum wage to cover all my expenses for a month. I only have rent and utilities to pay if you include a phone bill in utilities. $800 is not enough to cover those couple of things as well as food for the month. And here’s my other question. What happened to all the money I paid into unemployment for the last 12 years? Isn’t that still my money? Why can’t I use that during unemployment? These are only a few things I sit and think about while I enjoy my morning coffee.