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Lisa Brake - 55% pay cut
Lisa Brake - 55% pay cut
Lisa Brake poses with her husband, Stephen.
Old Job: U.S. Air Force captain, $83,000
New Job: IT specialist, $36,000
Hardest thing to give up: The freedom to go shopping, take a trip or do anything without planning far in advance.

"After suffering health problems, I separated honorably from the U.S. Air Force. I was a captain, making $83,000 year.

I thought I'd find a job easily. I have three degrees, and I live in Colorado Springs, a town with a large pool of government and military-related jobs. But after an 11-month search, I was offered only one job, as an IT specialist. It was a great job with great benefits, but it only paid $36,000.

I was stunned. For my whole life, I'd worked hard to get the education I needed to be employable.

I took the 55% pay cut out of desperation. It was a hard decision, particularly because my husband is underemployed. He used to work in aircraft maintenance, but now he's a home-theater installer.

We have two kids, and we're faced with a gigantic mortgage. We're all trying to scrape by. Movie night at home is considered a splurge, because just getting to relax is a luxury.

We've learned to make do with a lot less. We led a lifestyle based on our high income. And when something happens to that pay, there is no way out. I'd tell others in the same situation to keep looking for employment even when it seems bleak. You just do what you have to do, and you learn to cut back as much as you need in order to make it." - as told to Julianne Pepitone

NEXT: Charles Dybala - 25% pay cut
Last updated January 12 2009: 3:07 PM ET
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