Monday, July 7, 2008

Things I've discovered since our job loss

As most of you know, my husband and family bread winner lost his previously-lucrative position in a home building business last October. Things have been tough, to say the least. The construction market isn't exactly open to new hires but he's been working all his contacts and looking at alternative careers. We had put away $ for a rainy day, but now it's storming and we're in a very precarious position. The good news is that I've landed a wonderful part-time job at a great employer who offers benefits, but it isn't enough to support our family of five. He's working short-term jobs and starting his own businesses but for about 1/3 of his previous income. Our modest but perfect dream home is on the market. And we just pray to anyone who'll listen that the car, washing machine, etc just keeping running.

I grew up with very little cash - my Dad was a state employee. We didn't have much spending power but Dad always had a secure job. Then I was a Social Worker after college. So I'm no stranger to living on a shoe string, which helps.

Anyway, back to my point. I've learned some great lessons through this and now I'll share:

1. Friends love potlucks! People just enjoy getting together with other friends, and many of them are tightening their belts too. Potlucks are a great way to entertain.

2. People love you all the same even when you're suddenly poor. In fact, they love you even more for holding your head up and plowing ahead.

3. Help comes from sources you never, ever expected

4. Knowing you have several families who would take you in is a blessing that money can't buy.

5. Other things money can't buy: healthy kids, a good marriage, good friends, a big happy extended family, 46 years with my Grandma

6. Things go more smoothly in the long run if you pay as much as you can on every bill you can. Sometimes you can't make all the ends meet in a crisis but each utility etc likes to see something put down.

7. There are lots of fabulous consignment clothing stores in the Twin Cities and Rochester.

8. You CAN be happy without a credit card. I put all mine away and have used one of them once since October.

9. If you're a big reader like me, find a good used book store. Mine buys my books and gives me more $ in store credit if I don't take it in cash. And of course there's always the library.

10. Basic cable's not so bad: our 10 crappy channels actually keep us away from the TV, which is really a good thing. I hated Hannah Montana anyway.

11. Old vans that are paid for and run great are one of life's simple pleasures.

12. Picnics at a free beach are lovely.

13. Hair dye in a box looks just as good as a professional job. And $7 versus $75 is a no-brainer.

14. Purex laundry detergent cleans just fine.

15. My kids have rediscovered their bikes.

16. The really important moments in life have nothing to do with your bank account.

17. Northwest Airlines just announced a lay off of 2600 folks in management, so we certainly aren't alone.


Sheleta said...

Girl you can smile even when it's raining. That's the gift of a strong woman. I appreciate these tips cause girlfriend, let me tell you something, you ain't buy yourself, the rain is coming down hard on us all! And there is a hole in my umbrella. Thanks for the tips! The best one is about the Purex laundry detergent. Cause let me tell you something, I gotta take out a "pay day loan" to pay for the damn liquid version of Tide we were used to on our two incomes. Now that my husband is the only one working, we're cutting corners too. And that expenisve ass liquid Tide will be the first to go.

Keep your head up momma, this too shall pass... (Gotta remember, can't get through the "Testimony" without the "Test")!

Kireliols said...

Great could compile your findings and make a book...become Diva for the New could end up with a tv show! Martha for the rest of us!

The housing market is the driving force behind so much of this mess and it's really unfortunate that your husband had to lose his job.

Christopher Tassava said...

That's a good list, and one that truer than true. I hope that things turn up, jobwise, soon. It's hard to imagine that things could be worse, but I know quite a few families for whom things are much, much worse. This is a rich-person's economy, and we ain't them.

A couple other items:

18. The Carleton library is fantastic, and connected with the Olaf library. Your ID can check anything out (videos, music, and books).

19. You can use the Rec Center for free, and if you want you can get your kids in there at quiet times (noon on summer weekdays, for instance).

tshsmom said...

How cool to find another MN Mom!

Great tips! We've been in your position several times. In fact, things aren't looking real great right now either. :(
Hang in there!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Amen to all that sister.

Unknown said...

hang in belt is so tight I can barely breath... our washer broke done...the laundramat is my new haunt.. the good think..i get it all done in the time it use to take me to get one load!

Mnmom said...

Thanks everyone!!!

laurie said...

excellent post, and you're right about everything.

re used bookstores.... another option is bookmooch. it's a free online book swap site. you get credits for each book you post (and give away), and use your credits to mooch books from other people.

the only expense is postage, which isn't much because you can mail books bookrate.

it's at

good luck. carleton is great. i have a friend who used to work there and she loved everything about it except the commute. (she lives in SW mpls)

Fran said...


I so hear you sister, I am just not quite as far down the road. Yet.

I too have reflected on what I don't need, although I felt like I needed it for so long.

Please know that I send you my every good thought, prayer and wish.

And girl you can write- get someone to pay you to do so. Seriously, very fecking seriously.

Shannon said...

I love this post. I can relate--though thankfully no one in our house is (involuntarily) unemployed--and also it's good to be reminded what's important in life. And to be reminded that many people are struggling financially these days, so none of us is alone when we worry over bills and the future. I like your down to earth philosophy and your eternal optimism. You're something special!

Joe said...

God bless you.

I'm sorry you're having to go through all of that--another decent, stand-up, hard-working American family that has held up their end of the social contract only to have our government and its privileged ruling classes let you down.

What a great post. What's great is, I can tell you mean what you write, and can sense the strength of your family from your words.

Dr Zibbs said...

What about, "stealing really isn't a crime"?

Billie Greenwood said...

Great post. Thanks so much and know that you're in my thoughts/prayers.

In this economy, the best security any of us can possess is the ability to live simply.

E. Anne Larson said...

Hey MnMom--Didn't know about the employment situation but it makes me feel a little better to know I have company! You remind me so much of my Mom--she always knew there was a pony somewhere around that pile of ####. Thanks for the positive view. Just when I think I can't work one more day in a row (8 days a week since April....), you make me believe I can! Thanks so much! Keep up the good work!

Mnmom said...

Cousin A - start blogging start blogging!!!!!