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Losing a job is downright scary. Being unemployed is humbling and you never know what is going to happen. But, we went through it and we came out on the other side. We learned some giant life lessons from unemployment.
You can be as prepared as you want to be for unemployment, but sometimes it isn’t enough.
We had 2 months saved. Our cars were paid off and we always paid our bills on time.
We didn’t expect to be unemployed for over a year. When my husband finally got a job, it was a contract position and thankfully he was hired by another company during that time.
These are just some of the life lessons from unemployment that we reflect on. I hope they encourage you today!
This post was updated in March 2020.
Life Lessons from Unemployment:
1. Financial Advisors recommend saving 3-6 months for emergencies.
This is a great goal, but it can be overwhelming. As we look back, we do wish we had taken this life lesson more seriously and had a larger emergency fund. Start saving for that today.
We still put a small amount in our emergency fund each pay period. It starts small, but it grows over time.
2. People are there to help.
Take the help. Whatever it may be, if they offer food, a meal, groceries, watching your kids, whatever they offer. Take it.
3. The stuff in your house is only stuff.
We can always consume more stuff. Sell the extra stuff as fast as you can. I still go through our house and find stuff to sell. I try and make $100 a month selling our stuff. It’s not much but it pays for fun things.
4. Once you have a job, the recovery time takes longer than you expect.
You still have to figure out how to catch up on bills, keep your grocery budget low, and car maintenance that you may have put off. Don’t expect the stress to automatically go away. It doesn’t.
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5. The emotional strain on your relationship with your husband will still be there if you don’t address it.
We addressed it 6 years later after our marriage had hit rock bottom. It was hard. We ended up in counseling. So, address it now while the issues are fresh. Otherwise, resentment and anger build up and it will eventually come puking out.
6. If you are adamant about staying home with your kids, get a side hustle.
Maybe it’s starting a blog, or refinishing furniture you get at Goodwill or selling stuff on FB. Maybe it’s getting a part-time job as a Virtual Assistant. Do something to help the bottom line. Your husband will be thankful and you will enjoy it too.
7. You don’t need a gym membership to have a fit body.
Yes, a gym membership is nice. And it’s great to get out of the house, but it’s not a need. Today, there are so many ways to workout at home. YouTube is full of free workouts.
8. Your kids will be okay.
They won’t remember why you weren’t able to buy them gifts for a year. They won’t care if you sell their stuff. What they care about is you spending time with them. Spend more time with them now. Replace the stuff with your time. Play a game with them. Take them to the park and chase them.
9. Every single emotion you are feeling is normal.
The ups and down with fear and happiness is truly warranted and no one is going to relate unless they have gone through a season of unemployment. The unemployment stress and depression will come in waves. Some days will be great and somedays will be hard, but there is life after unemployment.
10. Use this time to be with your husband.
He will eventually go back to work and you will miss him. Enjoy him, be his best friend, be with him and be intimate! This is a benefit of unemployment and it won’t last forever.
11. God really is there.
Even if you think He isn’t, He is. There were moments when I could see His hand of provision right in front of me.
12. Sell the house.
If you are suddenly unemployed, put the house on the market ASAP. You can always find a place to live.
13. Unemployment was the most humbling season of our life.
Even though it’s been 7 years, I still remember. Because of this season, we don’t take my husband’s job for granted. When he says he has to work while we are on vacation, I don’t get upset.
14. Public aide was created for such a time as this.
This is the time to use it. You won’t need it forever, but for now, you do. I know it’s humbling and humiliating. I know it’s shocking to have that SNAP card in your wallet and to be afraid a close friend who doesn’t know you had to apply for help sees the card. Be thankful our country created a program to help you during this time.
15. Food pantries help your bottom line.
During unemployment, you don’t have a very large budget. There are so many ways to get food for free, so why not? Is it humbling? Yes. Is it free? Yes.
I remember my first time walking into a food pantry. I was in tears as the lady walked me around and helped me pick the food for my family. Pasta, sauce, some fruit, meat, bread, cleaning supplies, the groceries went on. I was overwhelmed, so very thankful and deeply humbled. They even gave me some flowers to take home to my home.
Even as I reflect on this moment, I am crying. No one ever expects to be in the place of need.
16. Journal your experience.
No one else will ever walk in the shoes you are walking. So document what is happening so you can reflect on it. It is very therapeutic and will help you process through all the feeling of unemployment and financial stress.
If you have made it this far in reading this post, I would like to encourage you. Unemployment doesn’t last forever. It is a season of learning and a season of loss. I realize that you may be filled with a lot of fear and anxiety, but you will get through this. Check out this post about How to Overcome your Fear and Money Worries.
Once you make it to the other side and you have a job, or your husband has a job, you will be so happy. You will have your own life lessons of unemployment to reflect on. I encourage you to write them down so you can remember them.
Eventually, you will be on the other side of unemployment. Then it will be your turn to help someone when they are going through it.
Stephanie has been blogging at Sticky Note Mom for 4 years. Before starting her blog she worked in the finance industry working on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade to working for major financial institutions with personal financial planning and the mortgage industry. Now she shares all she has learned about frugal living to help others learn how to stop spending and start saving more.