How to Keep Paying Rent After Losing Your Job

Strategies to manage rent after job loss: negotiate with landlords, reduce expenses, seek alternative incomes or government assistance.

Losing a job can be one of the most distressing experiences one can face. Alongside the emotional impact, there are the immediate financial concerns, the most pressing of which is: How do I keep a roof over my head? For many, the monthly rent is the single largest expenditure, and the threat of eviction or falling behind can be daunting.

Thankfully, there are strategies you can employ to stay afloat during these turbulent times. Let’s explore some of them.

1. Immediate Action Steps

Negotiate with Your Landlord

As soon as you know about your job loss, approach your landlord with honesty and transparency. Many landlords are more understanding than we give them credit for. If you’ve been a good tenant, they might be willing to negotiate and offer some flexibility, such as a rent reduction for a few months, a deferred payment plan, or even waiving late fees. A written agreement for any temporary changes comes in handy.

Tap into Emergency Savings

If you’ve been able to build an emergency fund, now is the time to use it. An emergency fund’s primary purpose is to offer a financial cushion during unexpected crises, such as job loss. While it may be painful to dip into these savings, remember it’s precisely for situations like this.

2. Lower Monthly Expenditures

While rent might be your most significant monthly cost, there are other expenses where shaving off dollars can add to substantial savings.

Insurance Costs

  • Car Insurance: If you’re no longer commuting to a job, consider adjusting your car insurance to reflect less frequent driving. This can lower your premiums.
  • Health Insurance: Losing a job often means losing employer-based health insurance. Look into more affordable options like Medicaid or consider a Marketplace plan under the Affordable Care Act. You might qualify for subsidies based on your income.
  • Others: Review all other insurances you hold, such as life, disability, or renters insurance. While you shouldn’t drop essential coverages, there may be opportunities to adjust policies to reflect your current needs better. Find online quotes for renters insurance to compare your current policy to potentially cheaper ones.
Left side includes a For Rent banner, while in the right side a family hangs an "Eat" poster on a wall

Utilities and Household Bills

  • Cable and Internet: Consider downgrading your cable package or completely eliminating it. There are many affordable streaming options available. For the internet, contact your provider and see if there are any promotions or lesser plans that fit your needs.
  • Electricity: Adopt energy-saving habits like turning off lights when not in use, unplugging electronics, and using energy-efficient bulbs.
  • Water: Fix any leaks promptly, take shorter showers, and consider low-flow fixtures to reduce water consumption.
  • Phone: Review your mobile plan. Perhaps you’re paying for more data or minutes than you need. Many budget-friendly mobile carriers offer substantial savings over the big-name providers.

Miscellaneous Expenditures

  • Subscriptions: Cancel any unnecessary app subscriptions, monthly boxes, or online services you aren’t using.
  • Eating Out: While getting takeout or dining out is tempting, preparing meals at home is more cost-effective. Consider meal planning and buying groceries in bulk.
  • Transportation: If public transportation is available and safe, it might be more affordable than maintaining a car, especially when considering costs like fuel, maintenance, and insurance.

3. Find Alternative Income Streams

Gig Economy

Platforms like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and TaskRabbit allow you to earn money on schedule. While it might not replace your full-time salary, it can provide a much-needed boost.

Freelancing and Online Work

Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr allow you to sell your skills, whether they’re in writing, graphic design, programming, or other areas.

Temporary Positions

Some companies might be hiring for temporary or seasonal roles. This can be a stop-gap solution while you search for a more permanent position.

4. Government Assistance

The Department of Labor provides unemployment insurance to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. While these benefits typically don’t cover full lost wages, they can significantly help.


You can barely find something more challenging than losing your job, but you must approach the situation proactively. Expense adjustments, alternative income sources, and tapping into available resources allow you to navigate this period and keep paying your rent. Remember, this is a temporary situation. With resilience and determination, you’ll emerge from this chapter even stronger than before.