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Jobless? What Now?

So it's a recession and you've lost your job. First things first: You're not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people have already found themselves out of work in 2009, and some are estimating that the unemployment rate could reach 10 percent or more by the end of the year-the highest it's been since the..

\nSo it's a recession and you've lost your job.

First things first: You're not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people have already found themselves out of work in 2009, and some are estimating that the unemployment rate could reach 10 percent or more by the end of the year-the highest it's been since the early 1980s. So while this is cause for extraordinary alarm on a national scale, for you personally, you're just living the sad 2009 version of the American dream.The second thing to remember is that while you should be pounding the pavement looking for new work-to stimulate the economy and your sense of self-worth-you can't be doing it 10 hours a day. No matter how much effort you put in, you're bound to find yourself with a few stray spare hours. So what's an unwaged person to do? Between trips to the breadline, here are some ways to make your temporary furlough more productive, without spending much money.


VolunteerSeriously, can you think of a better way to spend your unpaid hours than improving the lives of others? Change.org lets you search for opportunities by cause; Volunteermatch.org let's you search by zip code, and even has online opportunities - give back in your underwear! Think of it as a down payment on good karma for the year.

Learn something newAs long as you still have internet access, the web abounds with resources for the autodidact in you. Instructables.com offers tons of DIY projects, as does Make.com. Learn a language for free at Languageimpact.com. Search YouTube for "guitar lessons" or any other instrument that interests you. And MIT offers all its courses online for free at ocm.mit.edu. Check out iTunes U as well, for courses from other colleges.

Entertain yourselfBeing jobless doesn't mean you have to punish yourself by not having fun. In fact, it's probably more important than ever for you to unwind a little. Check out the impossibly comprehensive TV-streaming selection at surfthechannel.com. Also: Remember libraries? Most now loan CDs and DVDs in addition to books. And if you have the option: have sex. It's great exercise and releases mood-altering endorphins (though contraception is extra). In some cases-which we don't condone-you can even get paid for it.

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