This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

One Nice Thing About The Layoff

Posted By Paul

Thanks again to everyone for their support during my time of unemployment. Now that I am back in the world of the gainfully employed I have been reflecting on my time without a job and I've found a silver lining that I wanted to share.

As you can imagine, once I was unemployed my wife and I put a very tight leash on our spending. It was actually a very refreshing experience to scale back to essentials, it was a good reminder of how many things fall into the non-essential category.

For example, while I was unemployed I cut back significantly on my meals out. Many of my restaurant meals were from work lunches where I ate out (so it wasn't hard to stop this when I didn't have a job). Now that I'm working again I'm trying to keep that tradition of not eating out often. I still go out to lunch with coworkers occasionally but I'm going to try to keep it down to once a week at most. Instead of running out to lunch I bring a book to work and try to find a quiet corner to eat my lunch and catch up on my reading (that's been great since reading is something that I enjoy that I never seem to find time to do).

Speaking of reading, while unemployed I decided to not buy any books and to instead catch up on books that I had bought, borrowed, or received as a gift (but never got around to reading). I discovered that this ended up being a large pile of books that I'm now going through. Being laid off was a great wake up call to force myself to not buy new books until I was done with the ones that I already had.

Also, those of you who have been unemployed can probably relate to the feeling I would get when I would think about buying something I didn't need when I didn't have a job. It's this sort of heavy feeling in your stomach when all of the financial anxiety gets stirred up again when you spend even a mere $20 on some non-essential. Well now that I'm working again I still remember that feeling which helps me think twice before I buy anything I don't need. I'm not trying to live the life of a monk, but it was a good reminder to watch the non-essential spending closely since that's always a place where you can save.

Most of all, being laid off was a great reminder of how the rules that I follow really help you weather a rainy day. I had my emergency fund to help me sleep at night, and best of all, I had a lifestyle that wasn't too expensive for me. Living the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle becomes a BIG problem when the paychecks stop, so I am very thankful that this wasn't me. During this time off I was so thankful for our lack of credit card debt, a tolerable mortgage, and lack of extraneous monthly expenses. I feel a renewed sense of having made the right choice by living a frugal life.


Anonymous said...

You refer to spending "even a mere $20 on some non-essential." I had to laugh, because this so clearly separates the generations. As a 60-something who has ALWAYS lived on a tight budget, $20 sound like a lavish splurge! My non-essential treat limit has always been closer to $5.

Matt said...

I can't resist putting in my usual plug for the public library system here. I used to be a real fanatic about NEVER buying books, partly due to expense and partly because of my minimalist ethic. I'm less strict about this now, but usually do try the library first. It can be tough to wait up to several months for popular books with waiting lists, but frugality is about nothing if not discipline, as Paul nicely points out above.

Anonymous said...

Libraries, YES!!! Support for our public libraries is becoming iffy, and actually failing in some communities. Use 'em! Support 'em! In my local community, libraries are are wonderful place for kids to go after school, meet friends in a controlled environment, get homework done…. They are a terrific resource.