It happens…you go to work one day thinking everything in the world is just great, only to find when you get there that you have suddenly been laid off. No warning of any kind. Talk about a shock.
This happened to my husband four times, but somehow we survived. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy, but it did make us stronger. We had to deal not only with financial issues, but with emotional issues also. Through those four lay-offs, we learned a great deal. I hope you never have to go through this experience, but if you do, I hope what I have to say will help in some way.
After my husband returned home, we just sat and talked for a little while…trying to grasp what just happened. Then we immediately rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The first thing we did was go through the house to see if there was anything we had recently purchased, had not yet used, and were able to return.
We also looked at our budget to see where we could cut corners…necessities stayed, frills went. The most important thing to learn is the difference between a ‘necessity’ and a ‘frill.’
A ‘frill’ is that cup of coffee at the local coffee shop, a meal at the fast-food restaurant, going to the movie, etc, etc, etc…these are the things that are not a MUST in order to survive. And as much as you may hate to give them up, every penny you spend on that ‘frill’ is a penny closer to bankruptcy. Remember, you have no more income coming in…every single penny is precious. And believe me, this way of extreme frugal living will come to end one day — it won’t last forever!
“Necessities’ are those things you MUST have in order to survive, such as food. Again, every penny is precious, so keep a close tab on your food spending. Look for cheaper cuts of meat, eat more veggies, cut out desserts completely (they aren’t a MUST), buy store brands when possible, check the paper for sales and plan your meals accordingly. Get creative — try to think of other ways you can cut your food budget. When shopping, look into your basket and pull out those things that are simply NOT a MUST…then pat yourself on your back and smile.
The goal here is to stretch every penny as far as it will go. You can even move your thermostat up/down by one or two degrees.
For entertainment, forgo the movies, or anything else that costs money. We thoroughly enjoyed family nights. We’d check out a movie from the library (free) and watch it with our daughters. And to make it more special, we’d even pop popcorn (which is super cheap) and really make it into a movie night. We loved those family movie nights!
Another form of free entertainment is picnics. Instead of eating your lunch at home, pack it up and go to the nearest park. Bring along an old blanket and have a quiet picnic. Then the kids can play on the playground equipment to use up some of their energy! The fresh air can do wonders for everyone’s mood.
Other ideas: take family bike rides or hikes. Walk the dog together as a family. Have a game night and let each child pull out their favorite game. Save some recyclables (such as toilet paper rolls or clean Styrofoam trays) and let the kids be creative by making a sword or whatever. Let their imaginations run wild!
The goal here is to turn ‘lemons into lemonade.’ Make the most of what you have; spend time really doing things with your family by making your own entertainment, instead of allowing yourself to be entertained. You may be pleasantly surprised at how close your family will feel to each other in the long run
And one very important thing to remember — your child is a member of your family. It’s okay to let them know that you don’t have the money right now to buy those special cookies, or go to the movies, or buy the latest game. Explain to them (no matter how young they are) that you have to tighten the purse strings right now. It won’t last forever, but it’s necessary right now. This is not only important for your sake, but it’s also an important financial lesson for them to learn as well. Money really doesn’t grow on trees! Let them learn that there is a time that it’s okay to spend, and there is a time that you cannot.
Looking for a Job
Job hunting is an arduous task, but a necessary one. We learned that most of the better jobs are filled through word of mouth and friends. So, both my husband and I got on the phone and started calling all of our friends to put the word out that he was looking for another job. Remember: network…network…network!
After the phone calls, we pulled out my husband’s resume and cleaned it up so we’d have an updated copy on hand. We were ready!!!
With resume in hand, we began the tedious task of looking through the newspapers and checking online for companies hiring. My husband even made appointments with personnel agencies. We sent out hundreds of resumes, praying that at least one resume would resonate with the right company and be fruitful.
Go to the nearest unemployment office and see what you can find. And as you’re out and about, keep your eye open for “Now Hiring” signs. Put in an application at EVERY place you possibly can. It may not be your ‘perfect’ job, but let’s face it, a job is a job. And if you don’t have a job at all, ANY job is the perfect job — at least it’s money coming in. It will hold you over until you find a job that really makes you happy. But in the meantime, give every job your “all” — you never know what can come out of it and what’s in store for you!
Also, it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I couldn’t figure out why that was, so I did some research.
On the “Work It Daily” website, they gave five possible explanations as to why this may be true. Allow me to quote here:
- “It’s Easier To Avoid Tricky Interview Questions
Having to explain why you left your last job or why you were told to leave your last job is never easy, but it’s still something potential employers love to ask you about. If you are employed, then your options are much greater in terms of what you say in an interview. You could say, “I’m looking for a new challenge” or “My current job just doesn’t offer me the challenges I want.” So, you can take your pick of reasons for wanting to find a new employer if you’re already on the pay roll.
- You Make More Contacts
You can’t underestimate the power of good networking, and there is more chance of you doing networking when you are working and not sitting at home. The people you work with could mention companies looking to hire people, or you may meet someone that has just left a firm – meaning a new vacancy has been created. If you’re unhappy at work and looking for a new job, keep your ear to the ground!
- You Have More Time
Regardless of how much you hate your current job, the fact that you are working and still earning means you have the time to look elsewhere. You know the rent will be paid at the end of the month. So, use your time constructively.
- You Have Greater Self-Confidence
Confidence is everything when looking for a job. If you are already in full-time employment, it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll exude more self-confidence than someone who isn’t. This might not be a conscious act, but the fact that the “pressure is off” might have something to do with it. However, don’t be cocky, because there is nothing more off putting to an employer than arrogance – no matter confident you may be.
The fact that you have been chosen by your current employer suggests that you have enough relevant experience to hold down your position, right? This is experience that other candidates you are up against may not have (assuming you are going for a job in a similar field). So, it’s well worth highlighting any strengths that you have when going for a new job and mentioning all the experience you have gained in your present role when starting your new job search.”
Dealing With the Emotional Issues
Being laid off is like being kicked in the gut. It makes you question yourself…Wasn’t I good enough? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently so this would not have happened? How do I avoid this from happening again? Why me???
Believe me, if you were laid off, it’s not because of anything you did, or didn’t do. (There is a definite difference between being laid off and being fired.) Companies today are having a difficult time with finances also, they are down-sizing all the time. This means someone is going to get caught in the crossfire. And that someone may be you.
Here is a list of “do’s” and don’ts” that I hope you take to heart:
- Whatever you do, don’t put yourself on a guilt trip — guilt trips are only for those people who deserved to lose their job.
- Don’t be embarrassed. Layoffs happen…it’s life…and a part of life that you have no control over. It happens to a lot of people.
- Keep communication lines open between husband and wife — you need each other more now than ever. You’ll probably even grow closer!
- Take some time for pleasure and being with your family — you not only need that break, but they need you also.
- Never give up — we found that there was usually something better waiting for us around the corner.
- Keep your chin up — “the sun will shine again.”
So How Do You Survive a Lay Off?
It all boils down to a few points. Watch every penny (be super frugal!) — apply for a job everywhere you possibly can (a job is a job!) — and don’t let life get you down (the sun WILL shine again!).
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