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Dave Says: Are Unemployment Benefits Immoral?

by | Apr. 26, 2011

Finances

Dear Dave,

I recently lost my job due to layoffs. I’m luckier than most, because I’m debt-free except for my house, and I have three months of expenses saved. I’ll also receive a severance package from my former employer, and my wife still has her job. I’m struggling with whether or not to file for unemployment compensation. Do you think it’s morally okay to do this?

Brent

Dear Brent,

I don’t have a problem, morally or otherwise, with accepting something I’ve already paid for. The Social Security system in this country is a complete and abysmal mathematical failure. It’s proof that socialism doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take my money out. The government took it from me in the first place!

Now, if accepting unemployment benefits causes you to get the idea you can sit on your butt at home and not do anything, then I’d question your character. I’m not hearing that kind of mentality from you, though. You sound like a hardworking guy, and you two have obviously been pretty smart and responsible with your finances.

Make sure you look at your severance package as “survival money.” You’ll know exactly how much you’ll get, so make a budget and make it stick. Cut all excess spending, and that means no more eating out, vacations, and all that stuff until you’re working again and everything’s back on solid ground. Then, you can ease back into saving and resuming a normal lifestyle.

Right now really is the time for you guys to live like no one else!

—Dave

* For more financial help, please visit daveramsey.com.
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