As the wife of a laid off aerospace engineer, I can tell you that the devastating effects of losing a job are lateral, affects everyone and difficult to deal with!
After kissing my husband goodbye one day, and leaving our home together; he went his way to work, and I went out running errands. I knew something was wrong when I returned home to see him standing at the backyard gate with a very distressed look on his face. It was 11:30 in the morning, and I knew immediately, something was terribly wrong if he was home. Even at that very second of looking at him, it NEVER dawned on me that he lost his job. What popped in my mind was a death in the family.
Billy has been employed for the entire 25 years of our marriage, and there has never been one day that that man did not go to work. Now, he is a statistic of more than 4+ million unemployed America’s. He feels scared, sad and unimportant, like no one wants him. This is where us wives, or significant others, need to kick in and be so many things to him.
My head was reeling and I felt like I was being transported to another dimension and I was so sad for him. I was overwhelmed by the realization that this cannot be happening to us. Well, from that moment on, our lives were going to definitely change forever, and in many different ways.
Well, that was 10, yes I said 10, months ago, and I would like to share with you how we are handling this, and share my experience just in case you are going through the same thing. We are OK, and you can be too!
Let me give you some secrets on how are surviving the biggest challenges of HIS LAYOFF!
1) Get PREPARED for a BIG change! The best thing you can do to make it through a crisis, is be prepared for a crisis, even if one never happens. When a loss of a job hits, panic and stress begin almost immediately. Once that first wave of panic hits you, it will be harder for you to deal with additional stress about money, paying your mortgage, car payment etc. TIP: (a) sit with your family and discuss an emergency plan. A- What if plan. In the short term: (b) make sure you have enough money set aside for one month of food, gas, mortgage payments etc. (c) make sure you/he are up on the job skills, make sure a resume is ready to be updated, or changed, and relevant (most unemployed individuals need to get employments is a completely different industry or field to make it through a tough time.) My husband did construction work. If you need too, GO GET A JOB yourself, to help out. Do not take the stance that he lost the job, and HE needs to only seek employment to survive. YOU need to help out, remember you’re in this together!
2) Make sure you become a GREAT listener instead of talker, and practice tolerance, more than ever before. Avoid the impulse of blaming; become one with your partner now instead of drifting apart. During the challenging times is when most marriages/partnerships will fall apart under the stress. If you have a stress plan, you can avoid the dreaded what do we do now! Come up with ways to work together, not against each other.
3) STOP SPENDING– it amazes me how in the beginning, we did not adjust our current lifestyle to accommodate our new lifestyle (most of it was ignorance and arrogance that I was working, making great money, BIG mistake!) My thought was no real problem here, he would have a job in now time, and all would be back to normal. Well, he still doesn’t have a job, and things will never go BACK to normal. Mostly because we have learned so much about ourselves through this experience; the good, the bag and the ugly! I do not want to go back to the status quo-normal ways of US! The old way was one of excessive spending, ignorance of money and lack of discipline and focus.
4) Rally your support team. Now is not the time to be private, even as much as it hurts or feels embarrassing. Beckon your family, friends and discuss current issues with them for love, support and guidance. Yes, I said guidance. No matter how macho or brave you might be; you family and friends will be able to give you the moral support, and maybe financial support, to pull through the hard times. The biggest mistake we made was to not discuss it with others, we kept it in and bore all that stress ourselves, do not do that! Cry on your moms shoulder, talk about strategies with friends. It helps to relieve all that pain and fear. I found it helpful to hear great suggestions from others about recovery methods that I would have never thought of because of being in a fog. If you need a place to live temporarily, plan that now with relatives. Realize that it is short term, and you may find that your presence at a relatives or friends house will be a bonus. You may be able to help them out in the long run!
5) Plan for long term financial security: I have to say that what we did do right to be prepared for a crisis is having enough money in savings to carry us. If we did not have that, and I was not working (like most stay at home moms), the outcome of our life for the last 10 months would be dramatically different. We now follow a budget….We found it easy to do with these guide lines below.
What I found very true in my life is that smart people always have budgets. Even if they are millionaires!
Allot these percentages to your income as a budget:
25% living expenses (food, entertainment etc)
I also found that watching the TV show Till Debt Due Us Part on CNBC was terrific! http://www.cnbc.com/id/33421145 with financial expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade:
With ninety percent of marriages breaking up because of money problems, it’s no surprise that many couples are in desperate need of help tackling their financial issues. In “Til Debt Do Us Part”, renowned financial author and columnist, Gail Vaz-Oxlade takes a tough-love approach to getting couples in financial crisis to face reality. With the sensitivity of a therapist and the toughness of a CFO, Gail asks hard questions and pushes couples to face each other and reality. Some couples are on the verge of bankruptcy – others are just getting by, but headed for disaster – either way, they all learn how to work their way out of debt and get the skills they need to plan for their financial future….
REMEMBER: A budget is like a diet, if you don’t follow it, it won’t work!
6) If all the s— hits the fan, and you have tapped every resource, borrowed all you can, bartered, begged and pleased, to no avail, it’s all OK. Now, in 2010, you have the opportunity to start over. The opportunity to plan right, save and make a clean start.
Do not look back and reflect on should-a, would-a, could-a……Give yourself a break, your amongst 4+ million people struggling now, be kind to yourself, be smart, re-group and always remember your alive, healthy and can be very resilient! Hang in there, I know how you feel, honestly I do. Pull yourself up, smile and get going…..
Always DREAM BIG!