Laid off in America

Monday, March 10, 2003

I was going to go over some of the search strategies that I've been using this week. But I decided at the last minute to talk about something else. I sent my last unemployment check in today. I am not expecting another extension--I already qualified for one. Now, I have had an "outgo" that was larger than my income for the many years it took me to get through school (the usual 4 years of college plus 7 years of graduate school) and I'm still paying that off. But this is the first time I haven't had any income at all since early high school. My strong protestant work ethic is going nuts. I feel weird. Like I'm not a good citizen or something. Like there is something wrong with me. Like I'm a loser. And I worry about the effects of low and no salary on my long term social security history (making an assumption that it will still be around when I retire).

I'm lucky though. My move to this part of the country cost me a lot. My employer had picked up some of it, but it turned out that my house needed work. And it didn't sell for a whole year due to the downturn in the housing market in the south. I was paying for my mortgage, outrageous short term rent for a troll hole under a bridge, a higher cost of living, and home repairs. I went into credit card debt for the first time in my life. I hated that feeling so I scrimped and got that paid off about a month before I got laid off (thank god). A few weeks before getting laid off, I got married. So I'm not in this alone. My husband has taken 2 cuts in income (and is making the least he's made in 8 years) to stay employed. At least he has an income that we can learn to live on, at least for the time being. And he has health insurance. The day I got laid off, I heard from my real estate agent. I had an offer on my house. So I got that off my list of worries 2 months later. And I got a little cash out of it that I was able to put into savings. The weekend after I got laid off, I HAD planned to go car shopping. Of course, I didn't go and am eking more life out of my 10 year old car. The "innards" are fine, but it looks like a leperous beater (poor thing didn't take well to northern winters and lost all it's paint).

I feel like the universe aligned to make my lay off as "easy" as possible--my expenses are about as low as possible living in the Northeast of the United States of America and except for one more year of student loans, I am debt free. My husband couldn't be more supportive despite the fact that OUR income is way less than what HIS was before he took on the responsibility of an unexpectedly unemployed wife. I can take my time to find the right job. Hell, ANY job. But I know that my circumstances are unusual.

So I guess this week's entry is more of a question for the people who are reading this--especially those who have been out for than 6 months. How are you surviving? How are you staying off the streets? Especially if you have dependents... Please let me know in the comments section or by sending me an email. I'll publish any good tips that I get... posted by Valerie 10:11 AM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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