This is not the post that was supposed to be published today. In fact, I actually missed Monday's post altogether. Instead, one of the unthinkables has happened in our little world, and we are reeling a bit. The Man has experienced a job loss.
It's not one of the HUGE unthinkables, like a terminal diagnosis or the death of a child, but it's still one of those things that you try not to let enter into your mind as a possibility, due to the scariness of the thought. But sometimes it happens; and it has just happened to us. The dream job, the job that was going to get us out of debt and onto the path toward financial stability, is no more.
And I am still a bit numb. Sleep is a welcome forgetfulness, waking up brings the reality of no income and huge debt slamming back into my mind. I obviously don't have many answers yet. And it's hard to be motivated to do much of anything right now. But in the interests of healing and progress, I've put together some ideas for what to do about this job loss situation.
What do you do when you have experienced a job loss?
First, you cry. For hours. Maybe into and through the night. Is God on His throne? Yes. Do we understand He has allowed this in His goodness for our best and His glory? Certainly. But still you cry (well, I do, anyway), grieving at the death of dreams, and because it hurts and you don't understand and you can't see how it will go from here.
The next morning you sit up and begin to take stock. It's do or die time, now. Forget about no spend month, this is a little bigger than that. Let's talk about no spend LIFE until there is income from a new job (or jobs, as necessary) to pay the bills.
Here are some specific things I've thought of that we will need to do. If you are going through a job loss, perhaps you can find some action points that will fit your own situation.
1) Total up every bit of money we have on hand. Bring out the emergency fund and all of the cash for the other savings goals we had started working towards. Figure out how much is left in the bank after paying this month's bills. A total for all this will give us a ballpark idea for how long we can look for a career-related job before he needs to start flipping burgers or stocking shelves.
2) Find ways to decrease ALL of the bills. That might mean cutting off data on the cell phones. Lowering the thermostat to chilly. Decreasing our internet speed. Stopping guitar lessons for awhile.
3) Call the credit card companies to ask for reduced payments for awhile. We have no intention of trying to “settle” our debt. To us, integrity demands that we pay for ALL of what we borrowed. But asking for forbearance — reduced or postponed payments over a predetermined period of time — is definitely worth a try.
4) Start practicing extreme meal planning. Yes, this is meal planning month on the blog, and every Friday we will still be discussing that. But now I must not just remain consistent with meal planning, I also need to really pay attention to how much each meal is costing us. We will need to eat more beans and rice and other CHEAPO meals. I may have to give up the clean eating for awhile and just go for low cost. I need to lower the grocery budget even further than it has already been.
5) Put together a “lean burn” budget. This is a budget with NO extra padding. NO “fun” money. NO savings for Christmas or other wants. NO eating out or extra trips to the store. We had started to enjoy some of those things recently… it's time to tighten that belt back up again.
6) Brainstorm job ideas. Anything is fair game at this point. Start flinging our pole into the job “pond” — as many poles as possible, actually — and see which one gets bites.
7) Re-visit the idea of my working outside the home. This is something we have resisted to this point, after an attempt several years ago that caused more problems than it solved. But maybe it will need to be a temporary reality.
8) Get the taxes filed ASAP. That refund will come in handy to pay bills. The more wiggle room we have until the money is gone, the better.
9) Look around the house for what we can sell. Again, trying to build that cash cushion.
10) Increase our efforts in areas that are already making some money, so as to increase the income from them. For us that would be this blog. For others it may be an MLM they are already doing, or babysitting, or dog-walking… Take that side hustle you've been playing with and start getting serious about it.
11) (Came up with this one AFTER doing the title and image and everything else; consider it a bonus :-) ) Discuss lowering the price of the house. Then we could maybe get it finally sold and downsize to a rental that would cost less per month. All radical options MUST be considered when you are in danger of bleeding out!
Any others you can tell me that I haven't thought of? Any ideas are welcome at this point. The brain might be a little foggy due to feeling a bit overwhelmed…
Oh y'all, I am not succeeding very well at being strong through this. It has been building up for several months, and so I am weak and weary from the emotional roller coaster. And yet a new war — the job search, and the struggle to keep up financially — is just beginning.
But this job loss will give me a new opportunity here on the blog. In future posts we will be getting down to the nitty gritty of survival mode. If you're in that spot, too, then let's do this together! Sign up for emails in the sidebar. Comment below. Follow me on Facebook and/or Pinterest and/or Twitter. Let me know you're there… and together we can face the financial storm, fight the discouragement battles, and work on clawing our way out of the morass of debt. It may take awhile, but we won't be alone. Are you with me?