In the comments on a recent post, Kathy asked:
Hi, I have a question that I do not mean with any snotty tone, whatsoever. I am truly curious because it’s something I’ve always wondered:
For those of you unemployed for lengthy periods of time, how do you survive? Did you have a large emergency fund built up? Do you tend to live on credit? Do you just cut back significantly?
Also, is a part-time job a possibility? Again, please understand that I’m asking out of curiosity–not as an attack.
I have often wondered this as I contemplate what would happen if I lost my job. I have probably several months of savings built up (as I continue to build it), but I don’t know what I would do much beyond that….?
Best of luck to you all in the job-search mode. Things will get better. It has to.
So many people have chimed in to answer that that I thought I’d create a new post just on this topic.
So far, the following responses were posted:
This past July, my partner was laid off. We had 3 months of emergency savings and I was working a part-time job while attending graduate school full time.
We immediately cut out every expense except food, mortgage, gas, electric, internet, and phone. We downgraded our car insurance to the state minimum. We did keep Netflix ($10/mo), but spent no other money on entertainment. My part-time job helped slow the bleeding, but wasn’t nearly enough on its own. When the savings ran out, I took extra student loans.
Luckily, the nightmare ended this week as my partner started a new FT job. If it hadn’t been for the student loans (which now have to be repaid at exorbitant interest), I don’t know what we would’ve done.
From Unemployed Gal:
@Kathy and others wondering:
Do they all have spouses who make so much that the rent or mortgage can still be paid with half the income gone? My husband has a (reasonably) secure job that barely covers the bills. But we’re “paycheck to paycheck” until I find work.
What do you do when you have no income and a house that won’t sell? If my husband lost his job too, I guess we’d have to pick out a nice cardboard box to live in. (In other words, we’re screwed.)
Did you have a large emergency fund built up? We did, until we had several emergencies, including a flooded basement. But that cushion did help.
Do you tend to live on credit? We’ve managed to keep our balances low, but a single illness or emergency repair would definitely fill the cards again.
Do you just cut back significantly? Oh, yeah. I’ve never had this many peanut butter-based meals in my life.
Is a part-time job a possibility? I’m looking for part-time, full-time, and everything in between. Most unemployed aren’t sitting around waiting for that CFO opening. I’d walk your dogs for a paycheck.
What do you do if you’re single and you are your only source of income? During a previous period of unemployment in my early twenties, I enrolled in college and paid the rent with student loans. My credit cards got pretty fat then, too. It wasn’t fun, but at least I have a degree (and massive student loans) to show for it.
From another Anonymous:
From a different perspective (as I am single), I have learned the “do you really need that” standpoint. When everything’s going well, you don’t give two thoughts at purchasing that book or going to the movie theater. But when you are out of a job, you don’t pull out your wallet as fast. If I want to read a book, I go to the free public library. Guess what? If I wait, I can also get the new DVDs there too. Yes, I’ll wait a good few months to see the movie, but that’s $10 that stayed in my wallet for food and other necessities. You’ll become creative at saving money but still enjoy things.
Like what Unemployed Gal said, you might cut back on eating out and staying home more often eating peanut butter. You can splurge every now and then, but don’t make it a habit.
And coupons become your friends!
Can I thank you? I really appreciate someone finally asking what it is like to be struggling in this time. You appear to appreciate your job and understand that there could be a risk of losing it due to this economy. Thank you for realizing that times are tough. There are people out there who have jobs and turn a deaf ear when they hear others complaining/discussing/mentioning how hard it is out there. Do they live under a rock or can’t face the reality? Whichever, I thank you for not being one.
This is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Thank you for raising it.