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The day started like any normal day in July of 2010. It was hot and so humid. I was already sweating in my air-conditioned house cleaning up from breakfast. The children were playing and were healthy, and my husband left for work with coffee in his travel mug. We were all happy. We didn’t think we would ever experience my husband lost his job.
Shortly after lunch my husband called and told me he had been given 2 weeks notice that he had lost his job. His job was being eliminated. He was emotional and he apologized for losing his job. I was so sad for my husband.
Somehow, he managed to get his termination date moved and he now had till the end of August. He had 6 weeks left with the company.
That initial sinking feeling when he called to tell me the news is still a fresh memory. The fear of the unknown, the fear of no income, the fear of not being able to pay our bills, but despite all the fear the odd sense of knowing it would all work out. It’s almost 8 years ago. But this call was the start of our financial ruin and financial recovery.
Husband lost his job
The day my husband was let go, we cried together. My husband was fearful of the unknown. He didn’t know how he was going to provide for his family. He was scared and couldn’t believe this was happening to him.
As his wife, I felt his pain and had my own fears to go with his.
The 6 weeks he had left at his job, he used that time to not only do his job well but also look for a job internally. He also started to look for jobs outside of his company. This was during the time when there were so many people out of jobs.
We took inventory of what we had, what we could sell and what we owed and what we could decrease.
The inventory opened our eyes to realize that due to the real estate crash 2 years prior that we were upside down on our mortgage by more than 60%! We owed $160k and we could probably only get about $75k for our home. We had credit card debt. A positive from our financials was that our cars were paid off. The financial reality was grim.
The financial blessing of severance was about 5 months. We knew it was going to run out at the same time as Christmas.
- We applied for Medicaid. In the state we lived in they would cover the children with medical and dental insurance and the parents were covered too.
- We applied for food stamps. This was so humbling and I was so grateful for the system that was put in place before I was born.
- I learned how to coupon by reading blog posts and forums all about couponing. I learned how to get stuff for free by using coupons.
- We sold stuff on garage sale sites.
- We decreased our expenses.
- I figured out how to make meals that were $5 or less.
Unemployment was so very humbling. My husband was out of work for over a year. During that year we lost so much. We dealt with our pride and going to food pantries. We were humbled every time someone gave us money or brought us clothes for our children.
As time went on and money ran out, we filed bankruptcy because we couldn’t pay our mortgage. Unemployment didn’t pay us enough to cover our mortgage and the rest of the bills we had to manage.
We had 2 months of savings and we paid our bills thinking he would get a job quickly. We had no idea it would be a year until he got a job.
Please understand if we had the money we would have paid our bills. We had always been people who had paid their bills until we experienced unemployment. The actions we took during this time were what we thought we were supposed to do. Please know sharing this today is extremely hard. My husband is aware I am sharing this.
No one tells you that when you lose your job the emotional turmoil you go through.
Job Loss emotions
My husband would freak out one day, then the next I would freak out. The stress we were carrying was so debilitating. The calendar was an enemy for us. It kept the dates of when things were due when the severance would run out, and when unemployment kicked in, and when unemployment would end.
There were times when we both fought depression and bitterness and anger. The feelings we had during this season were like a pendulum one minute your happy and content and the next your crying because you only have $5 in your bank account.
On top of all the financials, our baby, our second child was having developmental problems. Thankfully they were treatable. But we had to learn how to manage that too. This just added to our stress load.
Now that I have told you of all our hardship, let me tell you of the good that happened during this year.
Our faith in God grew! My husband is also a worship leader and during this period of unemployment, he was able to lead more frequently at our church.
There was a peace we couldn’t explain. Despite our moments where we freaked out about money, or not finding another job, we knew God was going to provide.
- I remember one Sunday where we went to church and a couple came up to us and gave us a check.
- My Mom came and watched the kids so I could work my part-time job.
- Another time a friend came over and brought groceries.
- My In-laws sent us a gift card to buy what we needed.
- There was provision, even though we didn’t know where it was going to come from.
God was with us. We just had to keep worshiping.
Maybe you have recently lost your job, maybe your spouse lost his job and this is fresh for you. First I would like to say, I am so sorry you are going through this. Second, I really hope it isn’t as long a period as it was for us.
I am happy to report that a year after his termination, my husband got a job. The job came at exactly the right time. We had 1 payment left of unemployment and he started a new job. It was a contract position at the time, but it was full-time employment.
During the time he was a contractor, he was given the opportunity to interview with a different company. That company hired him and he started that job right before Christmas. It was an excellent Christmas gift. God’s timing is always perfect, He is never late. He had us in His hand the entire time.
Stephanie Joseph 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.