Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning to live on less

When you first lose your job or in my case, one of your jobs, you are at first optimistic that your former employer will realize that they can not function without you and quickly call you back to work.

Days and then weeks go by and suddenly you come to realize that this will not happen.  Your former employer can function perfectly well without you.  Now, you must really start looking for a new job while you collect unemployment.

But wait you were only laid off from one of your jobs, the one with benefits.  You are still working at another part time job.  You can collect unemployment if you work less than four days a week.  But if you work less than four days a week, how are you going to eat?  You ask if you can quit that second job hoping that perhaps you could collect that full unemployment benefit that you qualified for, but nope, that isn't allowed.  You must keep that job,  look for a full time job and attend any workshops that the Labor Department recommends.

In other words, you must learn to live on less.  Not just less money.  Less food, less clothing, less entertainment, less medication, less necessities.  Less everything.  I went from earning an average of $1600. a month to $671.  I do not qualify for healthcare unless I cut my hours back at work to less that 16 a week.  I do not qualify for food stamps.  I no longer collect unemployment because my part-time job has me working more than four days a week.

So I've created a list of what you can expect to lose when you lose your job or become under-employed.

1. Healthcare benefits.  I don't know many people that can afford to Cobra their benefits, the cost is phenomenal.  I was able to Cobra my dental for a low cost per month which came in handy when I had to have a root canal.  Unless you are the poorest of the poor you are not going to qualify for NYS healthcare.

2. Cell phone.  Most people I see are so attached to their phones they probably think they couldn't live without it.  But you can.  You may have to.  Or you may have to go to the most basic plan there is and get rid of your land line.  My land line was cheaper to keep.

3. Cable TV.  Sooo many folks say that they would never miss cable.  Well I do.  I miss Animal Planet and the History Channel.  Currently I get my local stations and PBS and I kept Road Runner.  Basic Cable package.  Boring.

4. Food.  Oh how I miss just going to the grocery store and really shopping.  I miss making my once a week trip to Wegman's.  I miss eating good healthy food, because when your underemployed or unemployed you lack the money to spend on good food.  Consequently I have gained weight.  White bread is often times cheaper than 8 grain.  Fruits and veggies are costly! Food stamps, like free healthcare, seem to be for only the poorest of poor or those with no income what so ever.

5. Money.  Of course I miss money.  I miss being able to pay my bills.  I miss being able to go out and buy a pair of shoes.  Last Christmas there were no present under the tree.  I managed the tree, that's all.  I miss money for food.  I wish I could pay my mortgage up.  I even miss being able to put money in the collection plate at church.  Money makes the world go around and they claim that is why I was laid off.  Money.

6. Necessities.  Oh how I miss my contact lenses.  I really, really miss them.  But I can not afford to buy them.  Are they really a necessity?  Probably not.  I went months without buying new printer cartridges, I literally had to save up the money to buy them...to me they are a necessity.

7. Home repairs.  This was to have been the summer for some major home repairs.  Structural repairs that can not be done without money.  Materials cost money.  Bummer because my goal is to put the house up for sale and buy property with land where I can grow my own food. 

8. Haircuts and clothing.  Forget about them.  Or better yet learn to shop at the Salvation Army or other thrift shops and find a friend that will cut your hair for free.  Not that I ever spent much money on these things but I miss going into TJMaxx and Marshalls and some new underwear would be sooo nice!

9. Transportation.  In other words my car.  I no longer own a car.  I had a three year lease on a Jeep Liberty that came to term at the end of July.  I turned it in and still owe just over $500 on the stupid turn in fee.  I no longer have the freedom to just pick up and go where I want.  But on the other hand I no longer have to pay for car insurance or gasoline.  And by the Grace of God I have been blessed with wonderful friends who provide me with transportation whenever I need it.  I am never without a ride.  I just miss having my own ride.

10.  I know you thought this was a list of ten items and it probably could be a list of ten.  Ten things that make me angry about being unemployed.  Ten things that make me angry about the City of Fulton laying me off.  Ten things that make me frustrated about working my butt off for minimum wage.  Ten things that frustrate me about the system and unable to obtain help for food and healthcare because I earn too much money.  Perhaps the tenth item should be learning to do without the people at your former place of unemployment.  The ones that you thought were your friends. I'm not sure, the only thing I'm sure of is now you must learn to live on less just as people did many many years ago.  Maybe if our entire country learned to live on less we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

1 comment:

Greeneyezz said...

I've just been thinking about you and wanted to say hi.