I’ve been silent for a few weeks. It wasn’t really my plan. It just happened. My focus has been… well… vary hard to describe.
As many who read my blog are aware, my job was eliminated. This after 33 years of devoted service. My current situation is such that to find a similar job, it would require relocation or a daily drive of about an hour or more, one way, on a good traffic day.
I have been looking at alternatives.
My first step was to engage a financial expert to look at my financial portfolio to help me understand what my real financial needs amount to. This was probably the best step I ever took and wish I had done it many years ago. I had no idea banks or credit unions offered this service for free until this happened in my life.
I’m going to take a few steps back and explain why this particular event in my life at this moment caused feelings of extreme desperation when I heard the news.
In February 2015 I returned to work after being off work for six months while being treated for breast cancer. I came back to the news that the company was undergoing some major changes but was reassured I was a critical component within the company.
Since moving to our current location about six years ago, I have wanted to buy a house, so I was diligently saving up money. In April 2015 a couple months after my return to my job, I decided to start seriously looking. In August, I became the proud owner of a townhouse and my daughter and I finally had a home of our own which we could love and work towards decorating without feeling like we were altering another person’s property.
My first performance review upon my return to work gave me the lowest rating I have ever received during my 33 years of employment. The comments by my superior who gave me the rating basically stated it was due to my being off work for medical reasons and was unable to perform my job otherwise my performance was great. I challenged the actual rating, because I didn’t think they could lower my performance due to my medical issue. In December 2015 they reversed my performance rating and brought up to what I most commonly receive which indicates I Achieve or Exceed Expectations. This however did not prevent them from eliminating my position and I was told in January 2016. All my questions regarding the reasoning behind the elimination was given the same answer ‘the decision was made from a workforce reduction exercise’ or something of that nature.
This, not 5 months, after I bought and we moved into our new home. Needless to say my first thoughts were whether I could take care of my daughter and thoughts of losing the house because I couldn’t pay the mortgage.
There are reasons why things happen as they do. It was very hard to see this at the time because I did not have the information I have today.
One day while listening to the news in the morning before getting out of bed to make sure my daughter was getting ready for school, I heard the required down payment for first time home buyers was increasing. If this had happened before I bought this townhouse, I would never have been able to buy a house, because I had barely had the money to meet the down payment when I did buy. (I was considered a first time home buyer at the time.)
Buying a house was our ultimate dream come true for both my daughter and me. The next bit of realization I had was if I had waited until this year to buy a house, I would never have been able to do so due to being laid off. I say this with absolute certainty because my next job will have much lower earnings than my previous job.
In order to get even close to what I was earning, I would have to take a job that is at least an hour’s drive one way. Even so, the jobs I have found that are even close to the type of work I did, still earned at least $10,000 to $15,000 dollars less a year than what I was making. The exact skills I have are specialized and the jobs even within an hour’s drive do not have my exact skills. Due to this I would be considered an entry level or receive a lower wage as some training and learning curve will be involved. Even those jobs which are $10,000-$15,000 lower than what I made, I would expect to earn even less due to this. I applied for a position at one which was as close as I could get to my exact skills and was immediately rejected. Most likely by the automated selection system. Why? Because most companies are looking for entry level not a well established experienced person. They don’t want to pay what an experienced and fully skilled person is worth. Therefore, any job I get at this point will be at least half of what I was making if not more.
With this being said, buying this house had to occur as it did, otherwise we would never have been able to buy a house.
There is good news in this, though it is hard to see. The financial expert reassured me, I will be fine. After about four weeks, he finally contacted me and we sat down to discuss what he found out. I can retire, but it should be a partial retirement. A full retirement would leave me with a couple shortfalls. If I partially retire, and work part-time, I can eliminate those shortfalls. I can earn enough at a part-time job supplementing my retirement income to continue paying my mortgage, strata fee, utilities and what little debt I have outside of that, but I will need to be on a tight budget depending upon how much I earn with the new job. The better the job pays, the less I need to pull from my retirement funds.
He also told me I would only need to work maybe for the next five years, again it depends on what I earn at a job and how well I am at budgeting and cutting back expenses.
The choices I’m facing:
– Do I look for a job that is better paying but further from home, taking me farther away from my daughter, therefore taking more out of my day and time with her?
-Or, do I look for a job closer to home knowing it will earn me less, but I have the comfort of being close to my daughter if she would need me and travel to and from work would be less than 15 minutes or no more than 30 minutes?
There is the emotional and confidence kicker which happens when looking at something which earns less. We have been trained over our life time to believe the amount we earn reflects our worth or how successful we are. I am trying to shatter that belief in my own mind. Applying for a full-time job which would earn me at the most $25,000 a year after earning between 2 and 3 times that much in my previous position is a blow. It is a hard blow to bounce back from without having any residual effects to my confidence and belief in myself.
I have no doubt I can do most anything out there in the job market. I don’t apply for many of them because I don’t have the training or education they are looking for in a candidate (like accounting jobs for instance, even though I know I can do it). Others, even though I maybe lacking experience like in retail customer service, I have customer service experience just in a different type of job which wasn’t retail, so I apply. I add a cover letter hoping they will read it and realize though my experience is vastly different, I still have experience which would benefit a retail business. Unfortunately, people overlook this and my application is rejected. Even so, these jobs would barely earn me what I need to supplement my income.
It is scary to think I could lose the house, or not be able to feed my daughter. I would go hungry before I would let her go hungry. There is a lot I would do to make sure she had whatever she needed in life and that includes working at a job I never thought I would accept, and at a wage I feel is far lower than any person should ever make at that or any job as long as it ensures I’m able to take care of my daughter.
It is amazing what we see we have done over our life time when we suddenly find ourselves in situations like this. All it would have taken was a couple hours every couple of years or so of working with a financial expert at my bank or credit union and I would have been in a much better situation financially when this happened. I would not have had to work at all and working would then become a fun option instead of a desperate option.
Take my advice. No matter where you find yourself right now in your life, whether you are 20, or 40 or approaching 60, or earning minimum wage, check with your financial institution, see if they offer financial advice free with their services and set up an appointment. If they don’t, there are many investment service companies which offer free consultation in order to get your investment business. I used such a service to help me build up enough capital for the down payment to my house. I would have expanded further upon it if I hadn’t been laid off.
Being laid off was not as bad as it first appeared. It has given me options I had not previously had, not just because of a severance package but in my whole financial portfolio. I’m not worth anywhere close to a million dollars. I could have been if I had done this earlier in my life. Think about that if you are telling yourself you have time and can do it later. I thought the same thing until the time came when I realized I had waited too long.
I could have saved myself all the emotional turmoil I have experienced since January. Instead of feeling betrayed and overwhelmed, angry or rather furious over what happened, scared and desperate, I could have felt relieved and happy that I could do whatever I wanted.
We underestimate our worth and our abilities. We also underestimate the effect such harsh powerful negative emotions have on us. They exact a toll. They destroy our well-being. And if you live within a close family or live with someone, it effects them too. It can destroy relationships. It can cause children emotional difficulties and extend into their relationships with their friends.
Believe me when I say it is worth the time, the effort and tightening the wallet a bit. A little, over many years, is worth it to have the security later in life.
I ask myself if people will really listen. I remember being told much the same thing when I was in my teens, twenties and even thirties and how I ignored it. Thank God I’m not in the situation I first imagined when I was told I was being laid off. Thank God I’m in a better situation financially than I expected to be in. Even so, I still have stress, I’m still concerned because I’m not out of the water yet. If I don’t find a job, even a low paying job, I could find myself in more desperate circumstances. Hind sight as they say…. this could have been avoided.
I reveal this story to those who read it because I hope if nothing else, if even just one person read this and takes the extra steps because of what they read and it helps them avoid a similar situation then this has all been worth it.
My life has turned out no where near what I thought it would be. I could look at it and be bitter and angry from all the times when my life was going so well, to only have, time and again events happen which turn my world upside down. I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened in my life. Some events worse than others, like the cancer and losing my job, my daughter’s father not being the type of person he presented himself to be, and so on. Each time I have pulled myself up out of the muck and worked towards making my life better. I know I will do the same now. Each time I’ve realized the events were to force me down another path towards something better. I don’t write this to have people feel sorry for me. I write so hopefully others can learn from my mistakes. I write so hopefully my experiences will help others. I write so I can release, let go, and move on.
I know a new chapter is beginning in my life. I know there is more ahead for me. The Universe or God, or who or whatever you believe in, brings change. It challenges us to lift ourselves up and be stronger. I am on a path which will take me towards something wonderful. I don’t know what it will be. It doesn’t matter what it is. I just know I’m ready for it and if I’m not ready now, I will be by the time it gets here.