When my husband lost his job a year ago, we had only $1500 in the bank. Luckily, we knew the job loss was coming so we hit the ground running.
Apply for every form of assistance. Our town had a staff member that applies for Federal Aid for its citizens. I made an appointment for the first day of unemployment. She applied for food stamps and helped with my kids getting free lunches. I put my name on every utility and housing assistance program list within the state.
Inform every important person alive. I told our apartment manager about our job loss. She rewrote the lease to a lower rate and took out the first month from our deposit. That saved us from utter loss. Friends opened up their resources for us and kept their ears open for any job lead they found. Our church had five families out of 100 members unemployed at once. Prayers and support became the mainstay.
Make a budget. I used only our unemployment as income, leaving our savings untouched, and I budgeted spending less than the unemployment. I saved a little every check for concert tickets as a congrats to ourselves for making it this far intact (luckily, we didn't need to buy the tickets).
Find the soup kitchens and food banks. I was already a regular at a supper kitchen, so when they learned about our job loss, they dug around for help. Looking for extra food, monies available, job resources, law assistance, etc.
Pick other people's brains. At my supper kitchen, everyone on assistance gave me tips. The older generation gave me tips on how they survived tough times (Depression, WW2, etc). I had always listened to the stories, but hearing them again helped me see the silver linings.
Turn everything off. We unplugged everything but the fridge. Our bill dropped $70 a month.
Eat only what you have. We ate out of our pantry, not buying anything but milk, and our food bank and friends helped with that many times.
Take a vacation. When the job interviews were drying up, we took a mini vacation and visited friends. The break recharged us to continue on.
Look for a job in every way. At first, my husband used agencies, but it was an online job resume site that eventually landed him a job.
Dream of the future that is based in reality. We learned how we wasted money over the years and vowed not to do that again. I love budgeting, so I designed a budget and spending/saving plan that was more in line with our values and hard learned lessons.
Never forget about the people and agencies that helped when the good times return. I know where I will be channeling my energies in the future.
At the time, his layoff was frightening, but now we tell others that it was the best thing that happened. We now treat our life like a vine, tending the important roots and cutting away the debris. We are stronger and more focused on our goals now than ever before.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com.
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