New Yorkers line up to file for unemploymentAs the economy has crumbled, taking the financial services sector along with it and impacting many other sectors, a disproportionate number of people have been left unemployed. While it is tempting to crawl under one’s bed or spend the entire day combing the job search sites, the fact of the matter is it’s going to take a while for the economy to recover. I invite you to exchange your worries for an opportunity to explore those aspects of New York that you may have missed out on during your 9 to 5 grind.

Free admission or pay what you want at the Met and MoMA

I and the Village by Marc Chagall
I and the Village by Marc Chagall

While you may have typically avoided a number of places because of how crowded they get during weekends, check out the latest and greatest at places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Aquarium, and the Museum of Modern Art. The Met is always pay what you want, while the NY Aquarium is pay what you want after 3pm on Fridays, and MoMA also goes for free from 4 til 8 pm on Fridays. Numerous Chelsea art galleries keep their doors open, also for free, although do some research before you go, or White Canvas Painted White may easily be in your future.

Volunteer your time with New York Cares

A great option for daytime activities is to sign up with New York Cares and volunteer your time! It’s also a good way to realize that while your situation may be an unhappy one, there’s always someone out there who could use your help. From Bingo with the elderly to socializing cats at a no-kill shelter, donating your time is easy as you don’t have to commit to a schedule. Plus, when you do start interviewing, you can show something valuable and selfless you’ve done with your time!

Running in Central Park
Running in Central Park

Jump start your workouts in Central or Prospect Park

Working on your soul may be a good way to spend your time, but some of our bodies could definitely use some work, too! While you can easily jump start your workouts in Central or Prospect Park or along any number of bike paths, for the less motivated, a class or two may be a good way to turn the junk in your trunk into…well, less than junk! CrossFit NYC (25 West 26th Street in the Flatiron area) offers free beginner classes that will kick your butt into shape fast. In the mood for something a little less militaristic as you get your healthier regime going? Try out a free Tai Chi class in Bryant Park (meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30am at Bryant Park’s Fountain Terrace at 41st Street & 6th Avenue) and see if you can go with the flow.

Get some extra cash

Many of the unemployed folks out there are also looking to make some quick and easy cash. It helps pay the bills, and there’s nothing wrong with padding your unemployment check a bit, especially if it helps clean the house while you’re at it! Go through your closet for clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, anything you no longer wear. Stack it, bag it, and head over to Beacon’s Closet (88 North 11th Street in Williamsburg or 92 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope), where if your stuff is good enough, they’ll buy back for 25% of the retail value if you want cash back, or 35% if you’re willing to take a store credit. They buy based on season, so save your ski boots til the fall, but a little extra cash is always handy, even if you’re not unemployed.

So, yes, unemployment can be a drag, but surely there’s no need to whine and complain about it when so many options are open to you. Instead of griping, improve your mind, soul and body and maybe even your closet. At least you can keep so busy that your friends will no longer have a right to complain that all you do is sit on your couch and do nothing!

Note: This is the first part of a multi-volume installment on unemployment.

Home Community Laid Off in New York City Vol 1- Free, Cheap, and Maybe...