Working Our Way Through Not Working

A Guest Post

It's often difficult to find others who are going through similar circumstances with which we can relate to or learn from.  Especially (and surprisingly so) with unemployment.  Sometimes it just helps to know there's another married couple out there going through the exact same thing.

So I'm excited to be able to introduce you to Suzanne Blair of Frugal Friends Network.  She and her husband experienced their own lengthy season of unemployment as well, and Suzanne agreed to share some of her story and some really helpful tips for Working Your Way Through Not Working.

After you read what Suzanne has to say, be sure to click over to Frugal Friends Network and check out their website.  It's a really great money saving resource.

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When my husband was laid off from work, it was during which time my daughter, Sierra, was passing away. It was a blessing in that he was able to be with me during that difficult time; however, due to medical bills and both of us having debt from previous marriages, we were facing a very difficult financial situation to say the least.

Here are some of the ways that we managed to cope both financially and mentally with our struggles. I hope that what we did may help others who are facing unemployment and all that comes with it.

Here's where we started...

Coping Financially

  • We reduced our housing costs.  The biggest change we made was moving. We moved to a smaller home in order to save $250/month. It's been a "tight fit", but we know it will be worth the sacrifice in the end.
  • We got rid of one of our vehicles. We learned to plan our schedules around having one car. It was very difficult in that my husband goes to work at 6am and I take my daughter to school; however, we did it.
  • We found creative ways to earn money.  My husband and his sons began going to storage unit auctions and then we would flip the merchandise online and at flea markets.  I started a website for selling and also utilized eBay and Craigslist. You might even want to take a look around your own home see what you have sitting around collecting dust. You never know what you might find to sell. This way we earned cash in-hand and I noticed that my husband started to feel a sense of self-pride again - something that's hard to hang onto when you're unemployed.
  • We kept working.  My husband worked odd jobs from lawn care to painting.
  • We remained open-minded.  My husband loves chickens. With our move, we got a home where we could have chickens. We now raise babies, get eggs and sell some of them. I have had a love-hate relationship with them. I started off thinking "No way am I having chickens - I am a city girl this is not really my style. A dog yes, but chickens???" I soon found that I fell in love with them. Their beautiful colors and babies are hard to not admire. We collect the eggs and sell the roosters.
  • We made frugal financial decisions.  We found it really important to look at our bills and weed out wants from the needs. The obvious cuts first would be cell phone plans, satellite or cable bills and you should even shop around for car insurance. These can lead to some great savings.
  • We discovered the power of coupons.  It was during this time that I learned about couponing. Up until this past October, my two stepsons lived with us and anyone with teenage boys knows how much they eat!  I literally cut my grocery bills in half by the second month. This was a HUGE help with our budget.

Coping Mentally

  • We got out of the house.  We also took advantage of going to the park, library or other free events. It helps to just get out of the house and amongst people. Your mental health is just as important as your financial.
  • We worked through our household task list.  You may also want to use this time to get things done that you have put off. For instance organizing photos, painting the deck, reading a book, etc. This will help you to not only stay busy and keep your mind off your troubles, but also give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • We volunteered our time.  Consider helping Mrs. Jones across the street, a friend or relative who needs help with yard work, housework, etc. You will feel good doing it and it is a great way to pay it forward. (On a side note, I used to help people in need and was never on the side of the table of accepting help. For many this is awkward and it may be hard to swallow your pride. Keep in mind people like to help those in need and if you're unemployed or in financial stress due to no fault of your own, there is no shame in accepting help.)
  • We deepened our relationship with God.  The best thing for me was keeping my faith. I read the Bible more and really prayed about my situation on a daily basis. My faith has truly been tested. I find that when I am most stressed about the bills, I remind myself this is not how God would want me to live each day. I tell myself he has a plan and I have to trust in it. With that being said, it took me a long time to truly believe these words, but as time has gone on I've seen different signs of hope and built upon them. The closer I get to God the more things have seemed to fall in place.

In closing I would like to say try to think outside of the box, whether it be for your financial or emotional health. Think of what you like and consider furthering your education or starting your own business. You never know where your own talents may take you. Keep working at it and I’m sure you’ll make your way through like we did.

 

Suzanne Blair is a hard-working wife to Scott and mother to 3-year-old Emma. She also works for a real estate business and writes for the money-saving blog Frugal Friends Network. Recovery from a year of unemployment is still an ongoing process, but thankfully, Scott is now working again. Faith, family and friends have helped her to face the challenges and to see the blessings in it all.