This is less a how I'm managing money post, and more motivation to encourage folks to look for resources that might make life, and the high cost of living it, more manageable. Lesson one- apply for everything you or yours might be eligible for when you're facing a financial hurdle. I'm not talking aimlessly trying to milk benefits intended for people in need or as a way to hoard resources, but sources of funds intended to help specific needs in your life. I see three reasons why people should look into and apply whenever appropriate. One, if it's a good program, showing interest helps identify need and want, thus sustaining the investment. Two, tapping into such benefits frees up money in our budgets that can be redirected with more flexibility. Three, there is a bit of inertia, joy, catharsis, whatever you might call it, when receiving said windfall. I'm even applying this theory to job hunting. While so far my daughter hasn't gotten an official hit this summer, she's had some good interviewing practice.
College scholarships. Tuition is not cheap. Even community college tuition has crept up and to do well, students need to have time to study and limit work hours. A good essay statement that might need slight tweaking, can usually be used for multiple applications. Don't let your kids be discouraged if they don't receive the first one, or attempt. My daughter didn't get my work scholarship twice, but now got it for both her junior and senior year. Also, don't be shy having them apply if they meet the qualifications, but perhaps not the priority qualifications. My daughter made a false assumption that our church scholarship had to go to someone going into a faith based profession so didn't even apply. Turns out while a priority for the award, there were none her year that fit, so they awarded to someone attending a college from our denomination, another priority. She met that priority criteria.
Home maintenance programs through city, counties, or state. Resources are often made available to homeowners that help maintain local infrastructure by encouraging through rebates, limited funding, or bulk purchase. We got our original heat pump system this way. If you're in need of new windows, doors, or other specific fixes that will yield energy savings, there might be programs in your community. There could be beautifucation programs that might assist with resources for yard care or other upgrades. A small bit of time to research and apply could save hundreds or even thousand's of dollars over the life of your home upgrade.
Employee assistance. Despite the debacle with my paycheck, I was happy to donate 40 hours cash equivalent, back to a pool for someone else. Maybe if you're facing an extended unpaid leave, you might be able to tap into a donation program. If your or spouses employer doesn't have this, consider suggesting it. According to the US Travel Association 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018. My guess is with all the work from home/ Covid stay at home, it was even higher in recent years. To me, that's letting our employers steal our wages. I say this cautiously as some employers behavior is crap, but there should be no harm in asking, right?
Job hunting. No one probably likes to job hunt as my daughter is finding out. It's humbling to get no response after an application is sent out to the abyss of HR and hiring managers. Worse, is when you get the curt auto response without an offer to interview thanking you for applying but, they will be pursuing more qualified candidates. But if you truly want or need a job or change of job, this is a necessary humiliation risk. The right position can't find you if you don't look for it. I'm losing my data specialist. Her position is important but both compensation and degree of authority in her current position is below her skill set. Yet she admittedly felt comfortable while frustrated at the same time, so didn't apply when various other enterprise jobs came up. After twice not getting interviewed, she sort of stopped for a year. She shared she took a leap of faith recently and applied outside her comfort zone, got an interview and the job offer for 20% more than she'd be at even after her July 1 raise.
This is all culminating in me saying, people need to apply to have an opportunity. Rarely is something going to fall into a person's lap, though it may feel like as my sister so eloquently says, "they have a horseshoe up their ass", that's most likely not the case. But there are scholarships, rebates, better jobs, and resources to be found out there. We just might need to apply everywhere to land them.