On Friday, my husband lost his job. As a result, our lives have been turned upside down. This turn of events was not unexpected. The company he worked for has filed for bankruptcy and is in the process of “restructuring”. People have been laid off almost daily for several months now. It was only a matter of time. He has worked to keep and enhance his job for more than 10 years. In today’s economy, this is a big deal. The job that he lost was not the job he signed on for. In many ways, he created his current position.
Our lives have been turned upside down. I am scared. We are a family of 5. We have one child in braces and one that will soon need them. I have a child and 2 adults with glasses. My dear husband needs extensive dental work. Finally, we had a big scare last summer when two of my three boys were diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma. On top of that, we have a cat, some consumer debt, and a mortgage. I think the mortgage and the medical and dental care worries me the most.
Periodically, we scan the classifieds for apartments, duplexes and rental houses that would meet our modest needs. Our home is only 1,400 sq ft. So far, we have not found another housing situation that would provide enough room and cost less than our mortgage. We would end up paying more per month for less space. More per month is something we can not do right now.
As for the medical and dental care, it is my hope that COBRA will help and that I can make arrangements with our doctors and dentists to continue care on a cash basis. I have a long term relationship with the pediatricians and dentists that I don’t want to lose.
On the upside, my husband occasionally has some paying music gigs. They don’t pay much, but may help put gas in the tanks. He also does some web design on a freelance basis. Again, not much, but it might help with groceries. Two of my three boys just had their annual checkups, so that is covered. My eldest just got a really good haircut, so I can try to maintain that for a while. The other two have easier hair to maintain. We just got a major house repair done. The garage door now closes securely and opens safely. Finally, both of our cars are paid for. We will put a priority on keeping them in good repair.
Ours is not an extravagant lifestyle. We have a flat screen TV, but it is the smallest one available. My dearest got it on Craigslist for $100. We do not have cable, satellite or pay TV of any kind. We just canceled Netflix and are planning to make full use of the videos available from our public library. Our audio receiver is broken, only to be replaced when we see a used one that is serviceable. We bought our bread maker and microwave for pennies on the dollar through Craigslist and at resale shops. We buy our clothes at inexpensive stores and try to avoid the mall. We do venture to Sears and JC Penney for clothing and housewares. Our grocery bill is very low, less than half of the weekly cost of food, compared to the average family. Finally, we do not own iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, or other cell phone plans. My husband did get a fancy phone through work, but that will soon be a thing of the past. We also do not own any video game systems. Our kids use the internet for games and my husband requires an internet connection for his freelance jobs. In short, there is not much fat to trim. For now, all extra spending is stopped. No new books, clothes, or toys. Each and every purchase must be scrutinized.
Our foremost goal is to maintain the status quo in regards to housing, school and medical and dental care. We want to keep our home. We would like to try to home school the two youngest at least until the end of the school year in June. That would put D in 5th grade in August and R in 2nd grade. We would like to make sure we are all healthy and have the care we need to combat orthodontics, high blood pressure, glasses and dental repair. Hopefully, with these goals firmly in our minds, we can thrive despite our immediate hardships.
Steps For Recovery
My husband and I have formed a plan to address these issues. We plan to do each step in its turn and check in with each other once a week. I plan to make sure we all get the exercise and stress relief we need. We will keep taking the kids to roller skating once a week. As time goes on, more may have to be cut. But for now, we will make do. Because that is all we can do. I am mindful of Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. We can only act on things that we have control over. We can’t control that the job is gone. We can only choose to do the steps that move us forward.