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Down to business

October 4, 2010

Wish you were here. Wish you were dead. A postcard. by The Butte Museum Gift Shop

Remember when I told you back in April that JD had been laid off? Yeah, it’s been an interesting road. I don’t talk often here on Kate Schmate about personal things, but I realized as so many people have come to me asking about the process and how we’re doing that there is a lot I want to share about us and how we’ve coped.

So, excuse the bullets. Although, I think you’ll appreciate the brevity.

Tips for the unemployed and their spouse:

  • First and foremost, lean on the Lord. Our church, the fellowship and friends around us, and our faith have all been huge in this process. If we didn’t fully understand that everything is happening for our good (as tough as that sounds), it would be a whole lot harder to deal with. It will be ok. God loves me, this I know, even though I don’t always feel it in my heart.
  • Take the charity. This may seem more simple in theory than in practice. But we have been overwhelmed by the ways our friends and family have wanted to help us. It is hard to humbly let them, but it is so worth it. People have invited us over to eat just because they want us to have a free meal… and you know what? We really appreciate it. It is a relief on our little budget, and it is a wonderful gift. Your dad wants to slip you money? Heck yeah! That is good hard cash that can go a long way. And, you know what? People want to help us. And we have taken it with much appreciation.
  • Trim that budget. Do you think I miss HBO? Heck yeah I do. Would I rather not go into credit card debt? Heck more yeah I do.
  • Enjoy the weekends, and don’t talk about the future, the budget, or the job market. (Stick to the budget, but don’t talk about those what-ifs.) Keep Monday through Friday as your family’s work week. But Friday night through Sunday night is your weekend… a time to rest those worries.
  • Delete unread (or better yet, unsubscribe to) store emails. Yes, I do want to hear from J.Crew, Southwest Airlines, and our local plant nursery, but discretionary spending is out … the emails are just another reminder that you can’t buy. Just put it out of your mind… it feels better.
  • People understand. They do! This economy is stinky, and everyone knows it. When I had to tell the guy from the Vanderbilt athletics office that we couldn’t buy football season tickets, he was much nicer on the phone. The lady at our irrigation company told us, “God bless you, sweetheart,” when I called to tell them not to come out this year, and I almost cried. People are sweet, and they get that this is rough.

For the spouse of the unemployed:

  • Make some time for yourself. You’re a caregiver, essentially, to a different lifestyle. It’s hard to be “on” all the time, at both home and work. My favorite me-time is working out.
  • Know that when you come home from work, it is probably the best part of the day for the unemployed one. Even though you just sat through 45 minutes of Nashville-can’t-drive-in-the-rain traffic, sometimes swallowing that desire for alone time is much more appreciated than you can ever imagine.
  • Avoid stating the stupidly obvious. Most of the things you are thinking are already things your spouse is thinking. You saying it aloud makes it worse.
  • On the other hand, communicate with each other. Propose a schedule for the next few months: at what point do you cut out certain luxuries, etc. Know where you are financially and emotionally to stay within budget and plan ahead so that you know what to do in one, three and even eight months.
  • Be patient. Ha, simpler said than done. But, put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. It sucks for them. You can not be a turd.

Things we wish other people knew:

  • Stop asking how things are going. Either one of us! If we had news for you, we’d tell you. Actually, our parents have done a really good job at not asking, but as soon as your regular sandwich maker at Publix finds out you don’t have a job, she can’t resist asking every week “any luck?” when you order your whole Italian on multigrain bread. At that point, you just want to tell her extra mayo, not about the ridiculous job market.
  • Do you know someone who could help us? A reference? A friend? Please share! How could it hurt?
  • Be ok if we can’t attend a party with a cover, or send you a gift yet for your new baby or your wedding. We’ll get there. Just not yet.

This has been such a different road but one that has really been eye-opening and filled with learning. There are good weeks and there are bad weeks, but I’m excited to be able to look back in a few years on this time of uncertainty and know we got through it together. Throughout all of this, I’m the first to say that our marriage has grown stronger, which is perhaps benefit #1, even before all that laundry I haven’t done in months!!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Casey Robert permalink
    October 4, 2010 1:37 pm

    Kate,
    This was a great read. Although I’m home in the “mommy” role, that is also lumped in (for the most part) with the “unemployed” role, and we’ve done a significant amount of curtailing ourselves. Yes I miss cable, but I was always frustrated with our provider – so now I don’t have to hate giving them $80 for sucky service!

    One good thing for us has been that we now discuss our financial plans much more than we used to. It’s nice to be able to afford things, but I realize that when we knew we could afford things, we spend money on stuff that was just — stuff. Enjoyment per dollar has definitely increased!

    Thanks for another good one!!

    Casey

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