Reality check: layoff means cut back on expenses!
Jennifer Derrick has a story at the Personal Finance Advice blog about a family who is dealing with unemployment.
The detail for which I am rolling my eyes is this:
She asked me what she should do. I asked her what extras she had already cut out of her budget so I could get an idea of what might be left to cut. Imagine my surprise when she said, “We haven’t cut anything yet. I thought things would get better by now and we didn’t want to alarm the kids, so we’ve just kept things as usual.” I was floored. This is a family who is in danger of losing everything and they hadn’t changed anything about their lifestyle? What seemed like common sense to me was clearly not common sense to this woman and her family.
Look, people: I know what it’s like to raise a child without having enough money to do everything you or the kids might like. You have to be resourceful with finding ways to keep family routines going – and learn to say no when necessary.
My daughter is now in college. She is very much aware of what we can, and cannot afford, but also that we do as much as we can to make our money stretch and help her out with expenses.
Example: I spent several hours on Memorial Day getting caught up with family financial records and re-calculating our 2009 household income so we could write an update to her college’s financial aid office about her stepdad’s current layoff situation.
Do not wait for that last paycheck to arrive. As soon as you even smell the hint of a layoff coming, you have to make fast decisions about household and family expenses. Many of the cost-cutting steps that work best for middle class and working class families do require an investment of time, money or both before you see long-term results.
For a detailed list of ideas on a household category basis, go to my series The Downsized Budget: How and Where to Cut Back.