It’s the recession. It HAS BEEN the recession for a while, and we’re all tired of it.
Right now, we live in fear that tomorrow, we may lose our business or our job. Some have already been laid off. And when money stops coming in, there’s only one thing that could save you: savings.
I’ve been really good about saving ever since I went through the nightmare of being in debt. Once I paid back everything (with sweat and blood and the whole jingle), I kept putting aside the same amount that used to be my monthly payment – only now, this monthly payment was towards me.
And I never missed a month – for quite a while. It had become routine for me: as soon as I got my money, I’d go to the bank to pump my savings. I locked most of it into a bank deposit which I can’t touch for three years. The rest I kept liquid – “liquid” meaning that if I wanted to, I could draw the whole amount at the ATM by the grocery store.
But I never touched it. I wanted to save a bigger amount, then split it – half would go to buy stocks and half would remain liquid. That way, even after I put the money in stocks I’d still have enough in easy-access cash. Why? Because I needed to feel secure and know that I have enough cash to last me a couple of months should I join the ranks of the unemployed.
Well, I just did. And for the first time in my life, I’m unemployed.
MY LIFE AS A WORKING GAL
For the last three years, my schedule had been packed: full-time job, giving dance lessons every evening, writing a blog, and occasionally doing something extra on the side. No wonder I had no space for a personal life. Or sleep. I was used to getting up at about 7:30 and coming home at least twelve hours later, with barely enough time to microwave something, shower, talk to mom a bit and fall in bed. Try squeezing in some blogging time, errands time, clean-the-kitty-litterbox-time and some prepare-CDs-for-the-dance-class time, and you might have the picture of my life as a working gal.
Depending on the type of person you are, this schedule sounds either terrible or awesome. Me? I like to keep busy, and I’m more of a sprinter than a marathoner, but I think that for those three years, I was sprinting a marathon. That’s how it felt.
Last month, I got engaged. Ring and all! We didn’t hold an engagement party because it seemed, well, unnecessary. We’re going to have a weeding in the autumn and we need to save for that. But even if you skip the engagement party, getting engaged still comes with costs.
Next, we wanted to live together, and we decided the best option was for me to find a new job in (where my fiancée lives). My Old job was great and the pay was great, too, so I was a little skeptical about finding an equally great New job.
I ended up with three job offers, and – surprise! – all of them paid as much as my Old job. I signed.
The funny thing is, when I was starting my Old job, I thought it would be awful and it turned out GREAT. Signing up for my New job, I thought it would be great and it turned out AWFUL. (So much for my female intuition… I guess now I know why I don’t win the lottery.)
In fact, the New job was so AWFUL, that just two weeks in – and without another job secured, – I quit.
WHY – WILLINGLY – I QUIT MY JOB IN THE RECESSION
At first, the plan was for me to find a job in (where my fiancée lives) and then also start a dance group in the new city so we can earn a little extra on the side.
But, with all the changes going on in my life, I didn’t even get around to posting ads. Posting ads required just a tiny little drop of willpower, but I didn’t even have that left after 8 hours at my awful job. My co-workers were so terrible, that when I came home to my future husband I was exhausted, upset and cranky.
Last week was my fiancée’s birthday, and I’d had another bad day at work (ten straight days, to be exact). It hit me while we were setting the table: my mind was still at the office and I was still cranky while I should have been enjoying the first of his birthdays that we got to spend together. Add in all the evenings when I would came home in a bad mood, and all the hours he spent listening to me vent, and this New job was just not worth it.
Still, I was a little chicken about quitting my job – awful as it was – during recession. I wanted to find a better job first, and then quit this one. I was sticking it out for the money. But after I realized the toll this job was taking on both me and him, I figured I’d be better off staying at home with no pay than going to work just so I can come home radiated with stress.
I resigned the next day.
MY LIFE AS UNEMPLOYED
It’s been a week (or two?) since I quit, and now I’m unemployed. The Social security office told me that I will only get the minimum unemployment package because as opposed to being laid off, quitting was my decision (they made it sound like “a whim”). If I had been let go or fired, I would have qualified for a bigger package.
I’m unemployed for the first time in my life, I’ve always done great work, I’ve always worked hard, and yet the government thinks I deserve the minimum unemployment package! Of course, when I was employed and made good money and paid a lot in taxes, which go to the budget for unemployment packages, they had no problem with me starting a job willingly; but when I had to quit and I need unemployment money, I get the minimum.
Well, the hell with the system. I have my savings and I have my skills. (See also Strategies for getting rich: Savings vs. Skills )
This is exactly why I’ve been saving – so that in case I land a job I hate, I have the freedom to just walk out without stressing about how to put food on the table the next morning.
Being unemployed can actually be kind of fun… the first few days. I got to sleep in late, I got to experiment with making chicken nuggets (kind of), and re-arrange a messy cabinet full of plastic bags. I also got to play Zuma (the ball-shooter frog game) and reached level 9, all during the short one-hour trial period.
But the truth is, after the first few days of staying home, I got bored.
I did some ad posting for the dance school. I made a simple website for it. I started writing again for my blog. And I checked for job openings every day.
So while this is not exactly “idle time”, I also don’t feel like I’m making progress with my career… or with my financial goals.
(Although I’m not as desperate as this guy:)
THE FINANCIAL SIDE OF BEING UNEMPLOYED
Financially, I’ll be okay for a couple of months – thanks to my savings. I have enough money to pay the bills, buy food, and even contribute my half to the payment for our car loan. Short-term, there’s nothing urgent.
What bugs me is that staying home is slowly eating away at my savings, and what’s worst, we are not making any progress towards our financial goals. Obviously, buying stocks will be put on hold since I need that money now. We planned to save for a little summer vacation in August, we also got invited to a friend’s wedding, and we planned to save up for our own wedding. Hold, hold, hold.
And these were just our short-term goals. What about buying our own place, saving for a baby, and saving for investing in stocks or in starting our own business? All of that goes on hold, too. That’s what’s really bugging me.
On the bright side, even with me being out of work, we can survive without getting in debt. I think we’re lucky that way, because many people who are unemployed can’t even say that.
Also, we are both pretty frugal and sensible. Lucky us again!
I just hate to waste my time waiting a job, and I also don’t want to jump the first offer that comes my way. I want good pay, career opportunities and a job that makes sense to me.
So I’m picky while unemployed during recession.
Wish me luck :)