Eight Ways To Keep The Unemployed Both Productive & Unproductive…For Cheap

“So you got a full-time, forty hour a week job, eh?” said John.

“Yeah. Something like that…”

This was me last month. I was finding the best way to keep my foot out of my mouth as I quit my old job. Y’know, just in case I ever needed to go back…

Just in case.

They found me out. Like they always do. I had opened my big mouth too much and I knew it earlier in the month. I had spoke to too many co-workers about my desire to leave. How the upgrade of my position had left a sour taste in my mouth.

Three years ago, I started working at a place called Milbar Laboratories on and off. In July, they offered me a desk position. A thinking job! I was moving on up!

Or was I?

Yeah, it was a promotion, but nothing like I expected. They wanted to cut my hours and refused to increase my wages.

I know that makes little sense for a promotion, but allow me to explain. The person who held the position before was the company owners grandson. He had a bit of special treatment and made more money than he was probably supposed to for a niche’ position

I expected to make the same wage he made. The same hours he demanded. Instead I got the shaft by lack of blood relation. My luck, I suppose.

So here I am in July with the offer on the table. I didn’t decline the offer. I looked my new boss square in his bald face and said I was interested. And I was. For the right price.

But I was also disrespected when the right price didn’t come about. This is what my college degree had gotten me. I work my tail off for three years and you people call me back every year only to pull some shit like this? Do I look like a sucker?

I accepted the offer and assumed the position. Max (incumbent at my new position) trained me for a month before he left. On his last week I told them I had found a 40-hour a week job somewhere else. Self-satisfaction I suppose.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t swallow my pride and work the position. God knows I needed the money. The level of disrespect really irked me. Ate me up a bit. That’s the thing about jobs that don’t require a degree — if someone else can do it, you’re useless to them. Yesterday’s trash.

But what happens when yesterday’s trash sits on the front lawn for a week? It comes back in the house. Stinks the house up for a week. Yeah, the trash is gone next week, but for seven days you’re sitting there waiting for the trash man. For however long it took to replace me as Max’s incumbent, there was yesterday’s trash, allowing them to fumble for a new Yes Man.

Besides I know I’d never really look for a job unless I left my old one.

In the last month I’ve done just about everything one can do that’s unemployed. You have to find ways to manage your time. Waste your time. And on a budget, at that. It’s not like I have money to splurge on useless things.

That means bye bye bar tabs, concerts, and the like. Drugs are a waste and so are strip clubs. Buying new clothes means searching through your family members clothing to find something that fits. Or just avoid malls at all costs.

Drinking for football games becomes a waste of money. Why go to the bar for the football game when I can watch it right on my computer with a 6 pack my dad bought for himself? He won’t mind if I take a beer…or six.

How does one occupy their time without a real, substantial job, school or some kind of mission every day? Easy, really…he does a lot of productive and unproductive things for cheap. No lame shit like going to a park or picking up some arts & crafts hobby. This isn’t one of those lists that you’ve read a million times and said to yourself “why would I ever waste my time doing that” or “I’d have to be REALLY bored to do that.”

1. Look for a job
Cost: Variable, but often nothing
Convenience: You can do it right from your computer/cell phone

“When looking for a job is your full-time job”

It seems simple enough. Looking for a job costs nothing and it’s easy to do. If you have a degree you can look in specific fields or specific sites (I’ve been looking at plenty of non-profit organizations with my Psych degree.) If you don’t have a degree, don’t fret — Craigslist is your friend. It’s separated by major cities and offers everything from salary jobs to minimum wage positions. I’ve received offers for salary jobs in Long Island and Milford since beginning the job search. I’ve also applied to wage jobs like Au Bou Pain and the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in New Haven

2. Reading
20 bucks or less
Convenience: Your local book store or library should be near

But you said you weren’t going to name things I’d never do…

Yeah, reading is lame. All the cool kids in high school just spark noted everything. Reading in college, if you went there, was a chore. In most classes I could simply go to class to supplement buying the book and reading the chapters. These are all fine points, but I beg the question that if reading is so lame, why are you reading my blog?

We read what we want to read no matter how mindless and useless it is. For some people this is politics for others it’s world news and for the most basic in creation it’s the sports section of your local newspaper.

Part of my interest in reading is my writing. As a writer there’s a stigma about writers that don’t read. Particularly good writers that don’t read. They don’t exist. 

How can you become a better writer if you don’t read other people’s work? “Steal,” and implement other styles into your own style? If you want to be a good writer don’t show me your articles, show me your bookcase (I’m almost positive I stole that from something I read at some point.)

So what do I read? I like philosophy, really. I like reading from Buddha, Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I like the way these guys think and I like their outlooks on the world.

You don’t necessarily have to be like me. You can read about whatever you want. Sitting on wikipedia all day and getting a laymen view of Marx theory could be more productive than staring at your XBOX today. I once sat on wikipedia to figure out why my favorite TV shows were cancelled. You’d be surprised to hear about the Judy Paradox in Family Matters or how the mothers in both Fresh Prince and Family Matters suddenly became light skinned black females.

3. Becoming a Youtube Star

Cost: With an iPhone, smart phone or digital camera (what most people have) — nothing. An iPhone 4 with a new contract is also FREE by the way!
Convenience: Easy if you’re charismatic and have a semi-interesting life

Did you know that if you maintain a loyal following on Youtube, you can make money via advertisements? Youtube offers money if you allow them to put advertisements on your video before it is viewed. You can have this by simply getting enough views on one of your videos. According to this article, you can make 3-10 bucks for every 1,000 views. 1,000,000 views is suddenly 10,000 dollars. That’s good money for making an auto-tuned version of Charlie Bit Me

Of course there are other requirements like building your brand and whatnot. This should be business class 101 for most.

4. Working Out
20 bucks a month at Planet Fitness, could be cheaper
Convenience: What the hell else are you going to do?

I’m not a gym rat by any means. In fact, I despise working out for the most part. I just hope that girls don’t laugh at my body if they see it naked (unless all these years they’ve been laughing at my dick size. Errr…)

As a way to end this, you can join a gym. Seems simple enough, but is there a cheaper alternative? Sure. Recently a buddy of mine has been training with me on this toning regimen that includes 300 push-ups, sit-ups, dips, jumping jacks, wall-sits and squats in one hour. Of EACH. You also include planks after sit-ups and sprints in-between sets. Sound intense? It is. I’ve only been able to incorporate 5 of these workouts into my own workout in one hour.

While none of this will increase muscle (to my knowledge) it makes you stronger and more toned. So for those just hoping that a girl won’t laugh at your body when naked (or your dick size) you can at least be toned when she sees you.

For those trying to build muscle without the monetary backing of a gym membership you can do like I used to do: use people. My friend Chris has an in-home gym with old weights he bought off Craigslist. If you’re lucky enough to have this friend, use him to his fullest extent. If he’s a good friend, he’ll give you a key to his basement to use his workout material when he’s not there. More than likely, you’ll have to work out when he does.

5. Start a Blog
Convenience: Easy. Just have a laptop or computer

My friend Caitlin once asked me to help her start her own blog. I didn’t help her. Good thing. Now she’s running one of the biggest fitness & food blogs in the state of Connecticut.

Starting a blog takes no talent at all. Starting a good blog, with a loyal following and a brand is predicated on a few things:

  • Having a topic that appeals to people: If you want a following in any sense you should write about something that people want to read about. There’s an audience for the basics, even if a lot of it is cluttered. Music, food, fitness, politics, etc. Finding an interesting way of distributing an opinion on a cluttered market seems difficult. I honestly suggest looking at what’s worked before and what hasn’t.For example, who before Tucker Max was able to write about the life of a douche bag that just has sex and drinks? None to my knowledge.
  • Building an audience: This would come with interacting with others in your field. If you’re like Caitlin Croswell of Cait Plus Ate and you want to talk food & fitness, follow other food & fitness blogs on twitter, wordpress, tumblr, etc. They’ll follow you. Read your stuff. Even embrace and share your brand. If you’re a writer somewhere else, starting a blog should  be the next step. You already have an audience.
  • Being a half-decent writer: Doesn’t hurt.

6. Alcohol

Cost: Variable
Convenience: Your local liquor store shouldn’t be far if you’re reading this

Drinking is one of my favorite things and I get invited to do it often. The issue is managing my money while drinking. What was supposed to be a cheap drinking night or a night of few drinks can just as easily turn into a $100 bar tab.

Here’s some tips:

  • Don’t open a bar tab: Drunken you can add a lot to a bar tab. Drunken you might tell friends to put their drinks on your tab. If you want to save money, skip the bar tab.
  • Don’t buy drinks for girls: Waste of money, waste of time. Offering to buy a girl a drink can end up with “OK thanks…” as she leaves. If conversation is going well, consider it. But only for fear of seeming cheap.
  • Don’t buy drinks for anyone else: I’m of the notion that shots for my friends or a round of drinks for my friends only comes to my thought process when I’m really drunk or it’s someone’s birthday. I suggest you think this way as well.
  • Pre Gaming: Buy a handle and make your own drinks. Those four drinks that costs 6 bucks a pop and don’t even have you hammered can be sufficed with an 18 dollar Handle of Burnetts that can keep you drunk for a few weekends.
  • Drink Specials: Nickel night was a special we used to have at UConn where low-level drinks are a nickel for an extended period of time. There’s of course those 2 dollar Blue Moon nights, quarter drafts, happy hours, half price drinks, etc. Make sure to get the half price drinks that contain a lot of alcohol though. And in typical scumbag fashion, don’t forget to forget to tip! …unless you know the bartender
  • Cheap Liquor & Cheap Counterparts: Reality is, give me 3 40 oz’s and i’m set for a night. That can cost 6-9 bucks. Reality is, a handle of Burnetts is 18 bucks and can last an entire weekend or more.

7. Visiting Your Friends On College Campuses
Convenience: Depends on how far they live and the means of transportation

As a graduate I get a lot of invites to go back to UConn. My expectations for visiting UConn or any other school is pretty simple…

  • You’re driving, right?: This can also be accompanied with the you don’t expect gas money, right? notion. Of course, these questions only apply if someone wants you to accompany them on a trip to a school of their choosing.
  • How far is it, do I have ample parking and what kind of deals can I get?: If you’re visiting someone that’s close or out-of-state with your own car, there’s the option of public transportation (Greyhound does an online special for bus fare if you plan a week in advance and/or if you’re a student.) Public transportation doesn’t just work for visiting schools, it works for a lot of other things. Depending on your town, bus fare in Connecticut maxes at a $1.30. A train to New York City from New Haven is less than 20 bucks. A bus ride from CT to PA is 90 bucks round trip if you plan a week in advance. There’s also the option of driving (but who wants to pay for gas?) or conveniently accompanying someone on their trip back to school.
  • You have a meal plan, right?: If the person you’re visiting doesn’t, think about it this way — I came all this way to visit you, you better feed me!
  • Apply Alcohol thought processes here: See ‘Alcohol’ section

8. Catching up on TV shows
Nothing if you do it right
Convenience: Moderate

Girls, you know all those cult TV shows your cool friends watch while you watch Grey’s Anatomy and 16 & Pregnant? Guys, you know all those cult TV shows your cool friends reiterate quote after quote from while you twiddle your thumbs hoping someone’s willing to talk about the latest terrible episode of South Park or The Big Bang Theory?

Here’s the time to go out and watch them! They’re worth your time. The Breaking Bad’s, Dexter’s and It’s Always Sunny’s of the world can be acquired from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. If they can’t be acquired legally from there you can always “steal,” these shows on torrents or websites. Of course, I wouldn’t know about those type of things as I don’t steal…


About realmikeclark

23-year old Journalism & Psychology graduate of the University of Connecticut.
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