Losing a job - the transition from two wages to one
Hanno asked me to thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes sent his way on the weekend. He is 69 now, the last year of his boyhood. Next year he'll have to start acting more sensibly. ; - 0 We drove down to the beach to have lunch with our friend Diane and god-daughter Casey. For those of you who remember Casey's accident (she was in a bus hit by a drunk driver two years ago), she is still in a wheelchair and has not been able to work since. But it's always good to see them, they are two of our most favourite people, and we talked and laughed for hours over lunch and drinks. Hanno is a member of this club and they had sent him a letter wishing him a happy birthday, offering a complimentary lunch and drink; of course we took up the offer. It was definitely a good way to spend a weekend birthday.
The Christmas knitting has been stepped up a notch. This is a pure cotton and bamboo (the aqua bit) dishcloth.
I received an email last week from a young lady here who is very upset about the prospect of losing her job. She wanted to know what I thought her best course of action would be and asked me to help her and her husband through this difficult time. I sent her a reply telling her my thoughts but said I would also post about it today and see if all of us could workshop this problem for her. Together we should cover all angles.
This girl is 29 years old, married for two years, pregnant and due to have their first baby in February next year. The pregnancy was planned, what they didn't plan on was that she would lose her job before she had a chance to resign. Her job finishes mid-October and she will get a payout of about $4000. Her husband has a good job that is stable, which is good news, but they have nothing for the baby yet and they don't have a stockpile.
I suggested that from now on, even though she is still being paid, they live on his wage. They might as well get used to it now and be ready when they only have one stream of money coming in. Her wage should go in the bank until they work out a plan of action. I think the priority is to sit down and make up a new budget - a realistic one that covers two adults and a baby. They only have five months until the baby arrives and during that time they'll be equipping the nursery, buying and making clothes, blankets etc. When they sit down to do the budget, they'll have to work out what they can get rid of. They have two cars, three phones - one landline and two mobiles, pay TV, no stockpile, no emergency fund, no health insurance and nothing ready for the baby.
It sounds pretty grim but the husband gets a good wage that I feel should be enough to get them by and pay the mortgage as long as they sacrifice a few things and live frugally. She said they are committed to living a green and simple life but have just made that decision; she found us and this blog two weeks ago. If they are that way inclined anyway, I think they should be okay with this.
My suggestion to her was to get rid of everything that isn't necessary to their present circumstances. They bought the second car for her to get to work. They'll be able to sell that when she finishes work, they think it's worth about $7000. I think that money should be put away for their emergency fund. They should get rid of one or two mobile phones. I know young people are really connected their phones, but are they really necessary? When their contracts are up, at least the most expensive one should go, I would like to see both go. Pay TV - out! There is enough drivel on regular TV to waste time on, no need to pay for more. I know this sounds harsh but they need to conserve money at this important period of their lives. In a few years, when things stabilise and they're more settled, they can get it back if they want to.
I would suggest the $4000 she gets as her payout should go to pay extra off the mortgage and everything they sell should go towards extra payments too. Getting rid of the mobile phones, TV and extra car will save a lot of money, probably the equivalent of her wage. So hopefully, if they budget well, and live frugally, they should get by quite well on what he earns.
When her paid job finishes, she should consider her job to be manager of the household funds, being able to feed the family healthy food on a weekly budget, searching the op shops and thrift stores for baby clothes, rugs, a pram and cot and paying all the bills on time. She will become a homemaker, with everything that implies. It will be her job to work to her budget, fluff up her nest and make a wonderful home for her new baby and her husband - and I hope she finds satisfaction and contentment doing it. A first baby is such a special time for a family, this should not take away from such a special event. I see it as a challenge. She can use the time between mid-October and February to organise the home, to learn how to sew and knit, to start using green cleaners, to build a stockpile. Maybe she could also make cloth nappies/diapers. Does anyone have a good site with patterns and instructions? I wouldn't start a vegetable garden, not yet. But that could happen in the years to come. But now there are plenty of things to occupy her each day - learning how to cook from scratch, working out how to shop in a different way to get the best value for her money and getting ready for the arrival of her baby.
What started out as a catastrophe could be the catalyst for this young family to change how they live. They can build a good life, but it will be a frugal and simple one, one that is more environmentally sound and dare I say it, one that is more enriching. This will be an equal partnership in every sense of the word - one partner working for a wage, the other managing that money and the home for the benefit of all, while they build their family and future together. Sure, it would be a shock to hear you'll lose your job but once over that, with a few safeguards and budget strategies in place, I think this family will cope well. What do you think? What advice can you give this young couple?