"We always talk about trimming the fat when you get caught up in a situation like this," said Joseph Montanaro, a financial planner with USAA. "Certainly, when you're nearing the end of benefits, it's time to trim a little closer to the bone."
If you haven't already cut all unnecessary spending, it's time to review where the money is going. Gym memberships, cell phone service and cable television may all have to be sacrified until there's income coming in, said Patricia Seaman of the National Endowment for Financial Education.
She also suggested reviewing insurance policies and perhaps increasing deductibles to lower costs. But she warned not to cancel insurance policies. "You don't want to leave your family unprotected, because you're vulnerable when you're unemployed," she said.
Manage credit and debt
Credit cards may become an important resource for someone out of work for an extended period, so it's important to keep up with payments and resist using credit as much as possible.
If you think you might miss a payment — or you already have — don't try to avoid the bank, Seaman said. A phone call to the card issuer may allow you to reach a deal that can help you through the crisis. Some banks may be willing to accept interest-only payments, for instance, or arrange for payments to be reduced or suspended on a temporary basis.
For people afraid they won't be able to pay their mortgages, Seaman said, federal programs may help. If you haven't yet missed a payment, the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program might be able to help with refinancing. If you have already fallen behind, the HOPE Now can help negotiate an agreement with your mortgage company.