I was unemployed for two years and it was the most depressing and stressful time of my life. Fortunately, my wife still had her job (we were young newlyweds at the time) and so we were able to somehow make it through. At the same time that still made me feel like less of a man because my wife was taking care of our bills instead of me.
A friend was able to get me in at a job through the company he was referred to and my two years of unemployment was finally over. We were able to catch up on all bills, pay down some of our accumulated debt, and even decided that we were financially ready to start a family, especially after six months into my new job I was hired on full time with benefits and even received a $2 raise. Life was great again, and I felt like I was just the average man supporting his family.
A month after we found out that my wife was pregnant (two weeks before Christmas), corporate came to our office and advised us that they were shutting our Arizona office and that we were all getting laid off effective immediately due to budget cuts. All 600 of us employees got laid off just like that, with no warning.
Mikey, I don’t want to fall into the same unemployment funk that I fell into the first time. I have been pounding the pavement ever since I found out I was getting laid off and with a baby now on the way I already feel myself getting stressed and depressed all over again. What if I’m unemployed again for another two years? What are we supposed to do with a baby on the way and my wife’s maternity leave? Help!
— Freaking Out in the Foothills
Dear Freaking Out,
I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I can only imagine the amount of stress that it has created for you and your family.
With our economy, it seems as though no job can be 100 percent secure anymore and that although we all thought job cuts and layoffs were over, there still seems to be cases popping up randomly all over the Valley. The best way to handle this situation as well as your own is to be prepared.
Whenever you do get a job again, try to stock up on food and have at least a three-month supply so if you or your wife end up getting laid off again, at least you don’t have to worry about food. I understand with a baby on the way that saving money might be a little harder to do, but it is still doable. If before you could save $60 a month without a baby, and now you can only save $30, well $30 is better than zero. Having an emergency savings account is always good to have for just-in-case-types of situations that can occur. And last, but not least, try to always pay your bills on time. If there was an emergency and you suddenly got laid off and couldn’t afford to pay your electric bill, if you normally pay it on time every time then chances are higher for the companies to cut a deal with you since it may be your first offense.
As for going through this situation again, you have to tell yourself that this time is not going to be like last time. The key to all of this is to have a positive attitude for there is no time for any negative thinking. Negative thinking can distract you from what is really going on and will just open up the door to make mistakes. So remember to think positive.
Although you feel like your funk is happening again, in reality it is not. You have an advantage this time over your first stage of unemployment. You have experience this time.
Analyze your first period of unemployment and be aware of any mistakes you made the first time, and at the same time look at all the things that were successful the last time. Find the things that were successful and I would recommend starting there. For example, you mentioned that what ultimately led you to this job was a referral from your friend. Start there. Start networking with your friends and family members, neighbors, fellow church members to see if anyone knows anyone that is hiring and that could possibly get you in the door at a company. It worked for you the last time so let’s think positive and surely it can work again this time.
You also mentioned that you were able to pay some debt down, so if you are caught up and even a little ahead of your bills currently then you are in a better situation than most people. You basically just bought yourself however much time you are ahead on your bills to replace the loss of your income. On top of that, your wife is still working and from the sound of it might only be one or two months pregnant so her maternity leave won’t be for a while. Plus, if she is taking maternity leave I am going to guess that she will still be getting paid during that time, depending on what the benefits of her company are.
By pounding the pavement you are off to a great start. You have only been laid off for a few weeks so keep doing what you are doing and something will come up. Networking is key, as you have proven that to yourself that networking benefited you in the past. Even if you have to take a job that is not in your salary range, take anything at first and you can search for something more later. Something is better than nothing, especially in this economy. I am sorry you got laid off again, but in this economy you must fight it and not let it fight you and break you down because it will, and it will win. You have to fight back.
Good luck to you and your wife, and congratulations on the baby you have on the way. Everything will work out for you.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.myaskmikey.com.