Reduced size: now what?

State of mind:
At your desk working, maybe you just finished a conference call, your boss calls; “Can you meet me in meeting room xyz?” It’s a rare request, but not alarming. You walk in and see your boss and a human resources representative, a surge of emotions hits you; anger, sadness, shame. Security escorts you out of the building, in front of your now ex-colleagues, with a small box of stuff. No parties, no best wishes, everyone tries to avoid eye contact as they feel your pain and are relieved that it isn’t them.

The next morning you get up at your normal time, only this time you have nowhere to go. I had worked hard, given my years, it just didn’t seem fair. Everyone’s situation will be different and unique, but the emotions and feelings will be similar. Suddenly, a large part of your life stops. It sucks that it happened to you, guess what has happened to many others and will continue to happen to others, maybe even you one day?

It takes some time to get his mental state back. For me it was a couple of weeks before I stopped looking for a “why me” reason. Hopefully you have some understanding friends and family that you can lean on and blow off steam. I was essentially unproductive the first few weeks, at least from the perspective of getting another job. Yard work and home improvements/repairs had been badly neglected and were now at the top of the “to do list”. I did things I never did before, like working out, having lunch with the kids at school, and going to the movies in the afternoon.

From the beginning, you need to make sure you understand what will happen or what options you have regarding things like your 401k, health care coverage, stock options, unused vacation days, severance pay, cobra insurance, unemployment benefits, etc. . It’s okay to be down for a while, but you still have to take care of the base.

The point is that your feeling is normal, but you cannot afford to stay in this state of mind for long. The sooner you can get out of this pity phase, the sooner you can go on living. Your state of mind is critical here, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities.

Your income has gone down or will go down soon, so look at where you are spending your money now. It may take some time to find a replacement for income, so go into conservation mode now. A few small sacrifices now could allow you to sleep better at night in the future; Here’s a quick list to immediately save you $800 a month:

1) Maid Service – Guess what? You just got a job! Clean your own house for a while. I’m not talking about spending every moment of the day cleaning to perfection, I’m saying take care of the basics for a while; vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, etc. If you had a weekly service, at a minimum you should reduce the service every two weeks or once a month. Estimated Savings – $150/mo.

2) Lawn service – if you already have the equipment in the garage, please use it. Tell your current service provider why you won’t be using them for a while, they’ll be more willing to work with you in the future if you only need to cut it once. Estimated Savings – $120/mo.

3) Now you will dye your own hair. Estimated savings – $50/mo.

4) Monthly Massage, Manicure or Pedicure – Forget it! It’s okay, if you have a big interview coming up and you need your nails to look good, that’s fine, otherwise forget it. Estimated Savings – $150/mo.

5) Eating out – Nope! If you network, it’s allowed, but if you don’t eat at home, it’s still cheaper and healthier. Estimated Savings – $200/mo.

6) Cancel your gym membership, unless you have a contract with a withdrawal penalty. Estimated savings – $50/mo.

The last two require a little more effort, but are worth doing because they will continue for months, even after you get a job again:

7) Homeowners and Auto Insurance – These two combined can easily cost $200-$300 a month. Take your current insurance statements and get multiple quotes from other companies on the same coverage. Chances are you can cut your monthly spend here by $50/mo just by buying a few. I had a good experience with Amica Insurance Company, ( they matched or exceeded my current coverage levels in all categories, and did so for a savings of about $540 per year. Estimated savings – $50/mo.

8) TV/Internet/Phone Service: Call your provider(s), be honest, let them know you got laid off, I found them very willing to help me. Safely remove premium channels, if you have a cell phone with unlimited long distance, consider removing the landline. Estimated savings – $30/mo.

You have some time now to analyze your current expenses, what can be eliminated or reduced. Just by reducing the areas mentioned above, you can save $800 per month. However, you need to balance your time, not obsess over these little things and neglect networking, resume writing and looking for a job. The suggestions I make here are to take some immediate pressure off your wallet, but the real solution will be to replace your income.

Get to work:
You’ve gotten over the initial shock; You have reduced your monthly monetary outlay, now let’s get a job. You’ve heard the cliché “Make job hunting your job”; It is true; especially in the current economic climate. It’s common these days for employers to provide laid-off employees with some level of counseling, resume help, or training services. If they offer you the service, use them. There is a good scene in the movie “Company Men” in which Ben Affleck’s character enters a labor resource center, if you have been fired you will feel identified.

Even with all the advances in technology, I believe that most people still find employment through the tried and true methods: personal connections, a good resume, and determination. Call your friends, family and business contacts, maybe they know someone who needs someone. No need to sound desperate, just let them know your situation and ask them to keep their ears open. Have your resume polished by a professional. Access the Internet, the telephone and the street. There are many great sites to post jobs online, search for local companies and apply in person. I suggest first going on several interviews for positions that you don’t expect to get for whatever reason. If it’s been a while since you interviewed, this will allow you to be more relaxed and let your true personality shine through when the right position shows up on your radar screen.
Depending on your skill levels and position seeking, there are many “creative” ways to advertise; YouTube, websites, phone apps, billboards, dressing up as a cow, etc. I’ve never used these strategies, but I would if I found myself in a crowded market and needed to break away from the pack (pun intended!). Your situation will dictate your needs, do you need something, anything now, or are you willing to wait for the right opportunity? That is something for you to decide.

I experienced the rush of getting an interview and hoping to land a particular job, to the rush of realizing I had never been seriously considered for it. The job search is a microcosm of life. There will be ups and downs, but if you work hard and smart, go with your heart, and have a bit of luck, you’ll do well.

No oubliez pas:
Congratulations, you have just survived one of the 5 most stressful life events. The excitement of that first paycheck is incredible!

Now that you are in gainful employment, take a few moments and reflect on what you have learned about yourself, your friends, and your family during this experience: you overcame repeated rejection, social isolation, you never gave up, you are a strong person. This life experience has made you stronger and smarter. Since we’re on a frugal living forum, I’d like to stress that you did a good job of reducing some areas, and it didn’t kill you! So don’t fall back into the same old traps just because you have a job again. No oubliez pas:

1) Any $1.00 saved (by not spending it) is like earning $1.30 (tax included).

2) Any single purchase over $300 must be carefully considered. If you are married or living together, be sure to talk before you buy.

3) Bring your lunch to work a few days a week, it saves money and is generally healthier.

4) If your schedule allows, continue to clean your own house and mow your own lawn.

5) Pay off your current vehicle and drive it to the ground.

6) Give back to others in need.

7) Be empathetic and encourage others who are still unemployed.

8) It’s not about being cheap; it is consciously spending your money where it has the greatest impact for you, your family and friends.

9) Be creative, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to live life to the fullest.

Keep your seatbelts tight, at least for a while; be sure to create an emergency savings account. In fact, if you are married, why don’t you try to live on a salary? You did it while you were unemployed. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a doctor or a painter, if you spend more than you earn, it won’t end well for you. For many of us, being frugal is a lifestyle choice, and having money in the bank allows for more options. After taking a close look at your finances for a few months, it can easily become a part of who you are. I hope this has somehow helped you get over a rough patch and motivated you to continue your frugal lifestyle.

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