There are 15 million Americans looking for work and trying to find ways to pay their bills. So "GMA" financial contributor Mellody Hobson hit the streets of Chicago to give financial advice and answer your questions about unemployment.
I'm Unemployed, What Do I Do About My Retirement Accounts?
Hobson said that it is "very very important" to consolidate all of your retirement accounts because as you get older you may forget where they are.
"The average American has 11 jobs in their lifetime. So, a lot of people leave their company and they end up with all of these separate IRAs and 401(k)s. And what happens is terribly disappointing, is that many people forget about them," Hobson said.
If you are still looking for work, 25 states have passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits, Hobson said.
CLICK HERE to find out if you can apply.
Hobson also suggested taking advantage of the COBRA subsidy that the government has extended to May 31. This credit allows people to only pay 35 percent of their premium and their employer pays 65 percent, but your employer claim a tax credit for the amount they paid.
If you are eligible, Hobson said you can receive this subsidy for up to 15 months. This credit decreased the average family bill from $1,100 a month to $389.
How Do I Manage My Financial Priorities?
Carol, whose husband was out of work for six months, asked Hobson about how to prioritize her financial obligations. She has two children in college and her daughter's wedding is approaching.
"This is not going to sound very charitable of me, so I'll put this right up front, but your priority is you and specifically making sure that you are financially sound," Hobson said.
Hobson encouraged Carol to make sure her and her husband were financially secure in their own life and retirement before worrying about their other obligations.
"You have to be supportive without hurting yourself. That means continuing to contribute to your retirement before loaning money to your kids," Hobson said. "If you can spare the money, share it with them but be clear that it is a loan. If they move in charge them rent and expenses, even if they can't pay it now. It will make them more responsible with the money they do have."
Hobson suggested offering them a better deal to keep yourself employed.
"You might cut them a better rate…'Normally I charge you $10 an hour but if you employ me X number of hours a week, I can drop that down,'" Hobson said.
Hobson said there are a lot of "takeaways" for high school and college students looking for summer jobs. Because the economy is challenging, they are going to learn excellent negotiating skills to secure employment.
What Protections Do I Need to Self-Fund My Own Entrepreneurial Venture?
"One of the things about entrepreneurial endeavors is that people tend to be very passionate about them. And as a result of that they pour lots and lots of money into making them work, and of course most small businesses don't make it," Hobson said. "So, the one thing that you want to do is be extraordinarily disciplined on the front end about how much money you will commit."