"I saw it coming for six months, so I wasn't shocked when I was laid off in February. I started budgeting before D-Day: I calculated the paid time off I was owed and my stock-option plans. And I generally thought about how I would be able to support a family of six on unemployment checks.
For the first time, I put together a plan to really crunch the numbers with utilities, mortgage payments, living expenses. It was an exercise we had never done before: Where is our money really going? How much do we need to make every month to get by?
We were able to save some money that way. If you have a job now, start budgeting as if you were unemployed. The beautiful thing is that if that day doesn't come, you have additional money in your savings account!
My wife, Elanie, does not work. We've budgeted out to the penny for the next six months. It will take all of our savings.
If there's a silver lining, this has been really good for me to try to find a job that is a perfect fit. I've been doing corporate sales for 12 years and now I can ask myself: Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?
In the meantime, we've started cooking more at home, which has saved us so much money. I was spending $200 a month on lunch just for myself. I've also started using public transportation. COBRA health insurance is an expense that can crush you when you're unemployed, so I'd recommend a lot of research if you're worried about being laid off.
I looked to my parents for advice, and it was a great eye opener to find out that something similar happened to my dad many moons ago. It seems like every generation goes through a downturn.
For others going through this, don't be embarrassed. It's happening all over the U.S., so remember it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you or your work." --J.P.