How she survived repeated job losses

Surviving 5 Years of Job Losses

contributed Kathy in California

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In May 2011, burnt out and overdone, I made a significant change in employment, which resulted in a layoff less than three months into the new job. I did what any good unemployed person does; I filed for unemployment, revamped my resume, and began an earnest job search. During this time, my husband had a total knee replacement, which equaled $5,000 in medical bills.

My efforts landed me a job with a large national non-profit in Los Angeles beginning mid-January 2012. I commuted 90 minutes each way with the understanding that the commute would be temporary until a new office was opened 10 miles from my home. Well, the commute was temporary as in May. Due to budget cutbacks, my position was eliminated. The layoff came one week after my husband had another total knee replacement, which equaled another $5,000 in medical bills.

In retrospect, I think Southern California was still recovering from the "Great Recession" as job prospects were slim. In fact, I only had two responses to the numerous resumes I sent out from May to December 2012. One did result in a part-time job starting in January 2013 with a small local non-profit. The commute was only 10 minutes and for 28 hours a week. Unfortunately, I was making less than half of my full-time compensation.

At the end of the year, that position was eliminated due to budget cuts. However, I quickly transitioned to another part-time job with another local non-profit starting in January 2014. This job was eight hours less a week with a pay cut of $2 per hour. In May 2015, once again, I was unemployed as the entire department was eliminated.

After viewing the job prospects, my husband and I decided I should go ahead and take Social Security at 62. So not only have we survived, we've thrived in spite of my dwindling income over the last five years.

  1. We decluttered "things" that we didn't need, use, or love. We sold via Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, garage sale, local newspaper, Facebook,, and And then we donated or ditched the rest.
  2. We scrutinized mundane expenses. We were subscribing to two daily newspapers (LA Times and local) out of habit. We now get only the Sunday paper. We also pared back magazine subscriptions. Yearly, I shop our home and auto insurances, cable package, and cell phone.
  3. We eliminated monthly memberships for massages and facials. Switched from high-end department store hair care, skin care, and cosmetics to comparable items purchased at Target or Ulta (often with coupons). I discontinued monthly salon pedicures and switched hairdressers.
  4. Related: 6 Alternatives to Expensive Salon Treatments

  5. We eliminated wasted food. I learned to cook only for the two of us. If there are leftovers, I will have them for lunch. Hubby takes lunch 90% of the time versus eating out daily. He uses commuter cups to take beverages on the "road."
  6. Related: Meal Planning Around Leftovers

  7. We shop mindfully and use coupons. I purchase almost all of our health and beauty, paper, and cleaning products at Target as their prices are typically 20-40% less than the grocery store, and I use coupons.
  8. We explored other income sources. I'm not advocating readers file lawsuits. However, there is a website that does post current class actions. Some of these may be products that readers have used. Also each state has an "unclaimed property" website.
  9. Would you like to pay off your credit cards in less time for less money?

  10. We refinanced. We choose to refi our car and home loan when I was first laid off in 2011. Yes, it did extend the length of the loans, but it also saved us several hundred dollars every month. Find out more about refinancing your mortgage here and refinancing your auto here.
  11. We pared down gifts. Our children are adults and live miles from us. They'd rather have cash or a gift card. For others on our list, I've regifted new items or found new items at the thrift store.
  12. I went on a clothing diet. Like any diet, this is difficult as I love clothes, purses, jewelry, and shoes. However, I shop from my closet. The only new items I purchase are socks and underwear.
  13. We simplified. We put up a birdfeeder and watch the birds. We're reading using the library or we download books for free or a couple of dollars via I revived my interest in crossword puzzles and purchased 21 back issues for $16.95.

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Decide which of these 10 ideas you'll put into practice first if you are, or think you'll become, unemployed.
  • Discover dozens of additional ways you can cut monthly costs and create a little more wiggle room in your budget with The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Trimming the Budget and Cutting Expenses.
  • Is it time to recognize a new normal? Here are a few tips on adjusting to sudden economic changes.
  • Funding an emergency fund now can help prevent debt problems and even bankruptcy later. Start saving today with these 11 easy ways to find $1000 for an emergency fund.
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