It’s been one month since my husband was laid off from his well-paying software engineering job. I happened to be working from home the day he was laid off. It was an interesting sight to see my husband walk into our house at 10 a.m. and silently unload a trunk full of boxes. He had been working out of the same building for over a decade (not counting one previous lay-off). There were quite a few things to lug home. The saddest of which were his box of family photos. But as my daughter’s face stared up at me from the box my husband was escorted out of his office with, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was relieved for him.
My husband hadn’t been happy at his job for a long time. He loved the people, but he’s a man of certain standards and he wasn’t happy with the quality of the products being developed or management’s lack of interest in bettering the situation of the employees. He tried to make the best of a bad situation by helping with social events and doing what he personally could for employee morale – but he was pretty miserable.
Though still a shock, the lay offs at my husband’s company didn’t come out of nowhere, the writing had been on the wall when his previous company was bought out by a major Canadian corporation. Word around the office was that lay-offs would happen in the summer. Since gossip occasionally has a grain of truth to it, I decided to prepare our family for the worst case scenario. If my husband, the higher earning spouse, lost his job…could we make it? My husband had previously lost his job when the tech bubble burst in 2003, but he didn’t have a family to consider then. Now, the stakes were higher. How we dealt with the situation would impact our daughter.
I revamped our family budget to consider the loss of his income. And was surprised. I could carry our expenses on my salary. We definitely wouldn’t be living in the lap of luxury. But it could be done. And to be honest, despite a playroom full of new toys, my daughter’s favourite plaything right now is a pair of toilet paper roll binoculars her father made. She also can’t tell the difference between brand new clothes or second-hand – so I knew she’d accommodate a lifestyle downgrade easily enough. This exercise in crunching the numbers ended up being very helpful when my husband came home that day. Because I had already months before considered the possibility – we were prepared. There was no panic. We didn’t run out the front door and stick a “For Sale” sign on our lawn. I could hug him, and reassure him with honesty that everything would be fine. And if the numbers had painted a different picture, I would have told him the same thing – because I would be ready for it with a plan.
We’re treating this situation as a blessing in disguise and my husband is using the opportunity to pursue some creative projects he’d been wanting to begin and to update his knowledge in his field while he looks for opportunities that are a better fit for his talents and interests. He’s also enjoying spending more time with our daughter.
So, in the end, the worst possible thing, was really be the best. More money is nice. But more time is even better. A positive attitude and a plan can really help in hard times.
Have any of you experienced a lay off or a sudden change in finances?