There are lots of fun things you can’t do when you don’t have a home. Like shower. Or cook.
To shower you can join a gym ($10-50/month, don’t sign a contract) or the YMCA (my local one is $11/day or $53/month), assuming they are open in your area. The Y has financial aid. Large truck stops on the highway may have showers for truckers for under $10. Most shelters will have showers. Always wear water shoes in public showers.
If it is summer you can check local campgrounds that allow visitors free or charge a small fee for a day pass. If you can’t shower you can perform a sponge bath in an individual restroom you can lock the door to, or use wet wipes for a quick clean. There are bathing wipes like Good Wipes that feel like you actually did shower. Whatever you do, be courteous, don’t be stinky, and leave things a little cleaner than when you found them.
If you don’t already have a library card where you are living, go get one now. You have to have proof of residence to get a card in most towns. (Our library building is currently closed because of the pandemic but they have many virtual services.) To access the internet you can go to any public library, and shelters sometimes have internet. Some areas with few humans don’t have a library in town (I have lived in one of these places, they do actually still exist). If you have a laptop many places have free wifi, like libraries, malls, major fast food chains, and coffee shops. If you are in a shop you should buy something if you can, don’t be a mooch at a mom and pop.
You can get a prepaid cell phone at a big box store for $40. You also have to buy minutes (another $20ish), and sometimes they charge an activation fee (another $35). You have to have access to a phone or internet to activate your phone (a toll free call). However, if you are in flux and don’t know where you’re going, can’t get cell reception where you are, or can’t afford minutes for a cell phone, you may want a number that will stay the same while you are in transition. You can get a free Google Voice number. You can forward this number to another number, like your cell phone, or number at your temporary housing. You can check your messages online. You cannot call emergency services with a Google Voice number, however.
You need an address for applying for jobs. I can get a tiny post office box for $20 for 3 months at my local USPS (smaller towns tend to be cheaper). You should forward your mail somewhere. You must have an address to buy a PO Box, so get that before you lose your home. There are other companies that have boxes (like UPS), which in my area cost more than USPS, but these addresses can look like a real address. Many shelters will offer mail services for people looking for jobs. Or you can see if a friend, relative, or neighbor will hold onto your mail for you.
You need to set aside enough money to shower if you get an interview somewhere. If your interview outfit is rolled in a bag you need to freshen it, put it in a dryer with a wet rag/towel/sock, take it out while it is still damp, and hang it. You can try hanging an outfit in a garment bag (sometimes available at the dollar store) in storage, but you may have issues with funny smells. If you use a garment bag you can stash shoes, makeup, and jewelry in the bottom.
If you are living in your car you will need a place to park. We rotated the Walmarts in the big city down south for a while, looking for jobs in different areas, but this was in the time of 24 hour Walmarts. Once every other week or so we would get a tenting site with power at a campground, and use the showers, laundry, and our crockpot. You can keep your car in a city park that does not close at night. I have only been shooed out of a rest area by a cop once, generally you can stay one night and sleep at any highway rest stop. In my area there is a large collection of state parks where you can buy a parking permit and leave your car overnight, you can pitch a tent in the woods with no facilities, but the camping is free. You can also check boondocking sites for free places to stay with an RV/car. Check BoondockersWelcome or Boondocking Guide.
If you or someone you know owns land somewhere, and it isn’t winter, you can camp there. This has its own set of challenges, like keeping the kids clean while keeping them in school.
Invest in socks. You can’t get socks at the thrift store, people wear socks until they go to sock heaven. Buy some thermal/work socks (preferably wool socks, usually $5 a pair from Walmart), they will keep your feet warm and dry.
A great resource for the nitty gritty of being homeless is at Survival Guide to Homelessness, Family Court Chronicles, The Survivalist Blog