On February 20, my husband came home early. One look in his eyes and I knew the reason: a lay off. It was both unexpected and expected (if that makes any sense). The project was winding down to the end, but he expected a few more weeks. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Since I’m the one who manages our finances, I instantly knew we’d be fine and I assured him we would be. I estimated that he could go a few weeks without work before we should start to panic.
Apparently, having assets to cover a few weeks of expenses is rare. According to a 2017 survey, 57 percent of Americans had less than $1,000 in savings. Based on that, I’d say we’re very blessed.
But even though we had a safety net, I decided to make a few financial adjustments (among other things) to ensure that we wouldn’t eat through our savings faster than we could afford. Here’s a rundown on how we survived.
The budget slim-down
This wasn’t our first rodeo. My husband’s line of work has resulted in us surviving several layoffs over the last fifteen years. But like most Americans, the larger our family grew and the more money he made, the greater our family’s living expenses became.
Therefore, during a lay-off, somethings had to go:
- Eating out
- Going to the movies (except to see Captain Marvel because, hello!)
- Frivolous spending (clothes, toys, gifts, Starbucks)
And a few bills were moved to our credit card:
- Cell phone bill
- Satellite tv bill
And even more bills were put on the back burner or paid late:
- Private student loan
- Hospital bills
- Auto loan
During all the fuss, I ended up forgetting to pay our credit card bill. I remembered minutes after laying down to bed – two days after the due date. (*face palm*)
Thankfully, it wasn’t on any sort of promotional rate or else we would have seriously been screwed.
But you get the picture: we had to watch what we spent.
A game of Russian roulette
Okay, so maybe not as dangerous as potentially shooting myself in the head since we did have a healthy amount of savings, but paying the bills did feel like a game of luck.
And by using my credit card to pay our cell phone and satellite bills, we were essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Somehow, the way the money came in before and after the lay off made things really easy to stay in the green. So easy that I didn’t even need to transfer any money out of the savings until the fifth week.
He was laid off a day before payday, so that was extremely helpful. In the past, layoffs have happened the day after payday, when I’ve already paid all the bills. Frustrating, I know!
Luckily, his paycheck wasn’t all earmarked for bills. About half of it was “play money,” which was a miracle. I really don’t know how that happened and I’m the one who puts the budget together!
A similar thing happened with his final paycheck, only needing some of it and not all of it. Double miracle! The extra cash made the decision to drive down to Florida for the kids’ Mardi Gras break a no-brainer. We spent the week visiting family (and more importantly: eating free, homecooked meals).
We barely spent anything beyond gas money. I still can’t believe how that happened.
Crystal healing for money
While we were down, I just had to take my aunt, who was visiting from New York, to my favorite crystal store.
I walked in without any intention of buying – unless I suddenly felt moved to. Sometimes, as the owner taught me, the crystal speaks to you.
While my aunt checked out the massive jewelry selection, I browsed the pocket-sized stones, finding my eyes drawn to the citrine. Remembering one of its benefits, I thought of my husband.
Citrine, according to Energy Muse Blog, “soothes money-related anxiety and mind chatter.” Since my husband was already two weeks into his lay off and he felt anxious about where the next job would be, I grabbed one without hesitation. (It was later that I Googled it to make sure my instincts were correct.)
My aunt paid the $1.50 price tag for the tiny stone and when I returned to the van, I instructed my husband to put it in his pocket, saying nothing more than it would help with attracting a new job.
Money was everywhere
A year ago, I bought the Kindle version of Denise Duffield Thomas’ book, “Get Rich, Lucky Bitch: Release Your Money Blocks and Live a First-Class Life,” after loving her first book, “Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success.” (The links to these books are my Amazon affiliate links.)
Once this lay off began, I realized I still hadn’t started reading her book. Guess now’s as good a time as any to start, I thought.
I started reading it a day or two before our long drive to Florida. And I continued to read it during our trip.
While I haven’t finished the book yet, I did manage to practice something she recommends early on – look for incoming money every day.
Right away, I looked everywhere. If I found so much as a penny on the ground, including in and around my house, I smiled, picked it up and counted that towards the money that I attracted that day.
And during our trip to Florida, while we were fully prepared to pay for groceries like we normally do, we never had to. I counted that! Likewise, we expected to pay for our restaurant bill, but when my aunt or mom volunteered to pay, we counted that, too!
Everyday, I found money somewhere!
Our mindset game
Denise’s book is about breaking down limiting money beliefs. Over the years, I’ve stopped many self-sabotaging beliefs from playing repeat in my mind – one of them (about money) being “I am broke.”
Instead, I replaced it with, “I have more than enough.” That’s the mantra that’s on repeat while I work on my budget spreadsheet (yes, I’m a nerd and budget using a spreadsheet).
And during his five-week layoff, every time my husband would say the words, “We’re broke,” I’d correct him and say, “No, we’re not broke. We have more than enough.”
Denise would have been soo proud!
Yeah, it sucked not having his usual income coming in. It sucked to put all unnecessary purchases on hold, to wait as long as possible before buying shampoo that was on the brink of running out. But you know what didn’t suck? Our attitudes.
Our attitudes are what made all the difference this time.
And why were our attitudes so positive? Two reasons: we had a savings account balance that made us feel safe and we truly believed everything would be fine.
Suze Orman used to talk about setting an emergency savings goal that would make you feel secure. I never fully understood what she meant until this lay off because this was the first time that we were extremely close to meeting our savings goal.
Between that, the citrine and believing that we’d be fine, I think that’s how we survived this layoff without a paycheck. It sounds woo-woo, I know, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (*wink*).