Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Job? No Problem! (Or at least silver lining to being laid off.)

Note: I started this Thursday, and actually just forgot to post it, so the part about yesterday was referring to Wednesday. That is all. ;)

About three weeks ago (exactly three weeks ago yesterday actually), Husband and I (who work at the same place) both received "Pink Slips" informing us that our office was closing and that we'd all be laid off between November 2 and December 31. This didn't come as a surprise since the parent company closed another of our offices just before Christmas last year.

We do, however, regret not finding other jobs on our own timeline instead of a forced one that was thrust upon us by impending unemployment.  We actually both had been looking earlier in the year but didn't necessarily find things or have luck when we did, so knowing we had this job to go to, kind of became placated and stopped looking as hard as we maybe could have. But that's life. Just have to get back on track.

I would have perhaps liked the opportunity to take a few weeks of unemployment to focus on personal projects and decide what I want to do, but since our savings are not nearly sufficient to weather the storm (most experts recommend 6 months basic living expense for this very reason, and we have about 1 months worth ) since we really only started to save again this year, I did actually go get another job that I will start on Monday. It may not be a "Dream Job", necessarily, but since the idea of unemployment puts me in the "Physiological" and "Safety" tiers of the Self-Actualization Pyramid, it also means doing what's necessary for a while.  But it is a job that will pay the bills, and that I would at least be happy to go to, so that's always good.  And has a nice bonus of being a bit more money than the job I am leaving, so that when Husband also finds a job, we can save a little more.

While being laid off almost always sucks, and breeds a negative situation, there was a lot of good that came from this that I hadn't thought of before we got the letters. So it got me thinking and doing, and here are some of the most positive things that came from it (or will come from it, hubby has been laid off yet) that I can think of:

-Finally Opened a second checking account so that bills can come from one and spending money from the other, so there will be no more accidental spending of money that is meant for something else. This will also allow me to more finely tune/correct the due dates/autopay for things.

-Since I got a nice payout for accumulated/unused PTO of about $500, I am going to apply that to the Principle of my car payment. Currently, it sits around $1300 left, so this will bring it down to around $800 and make it paid off that much faster. My husband, since he is staying till the end of the company, will also get a severance that will also be applied to the car. His severance will be more than the remaining $800 by a few hundred dollars, so we'll officially be free from the car payment which will also officially make us COMPLETELY debt free! It was a goal to pay off the car by the end of this year, but due to other circumstances, we knew we weren't going to be able to. (It wouldn't have been much farther off though-we were looking at around February, which would still have put us about 20 months ahead of the contracted loan date.) But now, with severance and PTO, we will. And this frees up the $180/month ($160 contracted plus $20 for principle) for savings--which since the car payment is on Autopay,  I will just set it up to be auto-transferred on the same day it would have cleared so we don't even see it. Automation for the win!

-Since my husband will stay until the very end, unless he finds something he can't pass up, and we can maintain our finances with my job and unemployment, this will give him a chance to spend some time on personal projects and decide what he would like to do. I think this is really important for him, and had we been able to keep up with us both not working, I would have done the same for a short while.  We figure that since unemployment is for 6 months, that gives about 3 months where he can look for only things that interest him, and complete personal projects/go to the gym/etc. At the 4 month mark is when he'll start to apply more broadly, but doesn't need to accept a job for the sake of a job right away. We are both hoping this strategy will work well for us, but we will have to see where it goes.

-Technically, I gave myself a raise with the new job since I'll be making about $1/hour more.  It may not seem like a lot in the moment, but that extra $40/week is an extra $2080/year toward savings and/or retirement/investment funds, and therefore, a chance to be a millionaire that much sooner. I know what you're thinking: "But people tend to blow their money when they get raises. You won't even see that extra money." Wrong! It is important to maintain your standard of living when you get extra money, and this is where automation of finances really comes into play. If you can't SEE that extra money in your checking account because it is automatically deposited in savings, you can't SPEND that extra money.

-And finally, one more positive that I could think of was that I will finally be able to correctly automate via direct deposit so I don't have to transfer money from checking to savings. With our current company, the payroll system has been kind of messed up/complicated to make changes to for a while. So, this gives me a chance to start completely fresh with the correct amounts needed for each thing, so I am actually excited about this part.

So, how's that for a silver lining to a dark rain cloud?

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