On St. Patrick’s Day this year, I went in to work as I did every day. I’d been working in the finance department of this company for almost 10 years and the routine was comfortable. The CFO from the California office was unexpectedly in the Maryland office for the day and asked to meet with our department around 11am. Dreading the meeting, I went to it and found my fears were true – our department was to be relocated to California. In two months, we in Maryland would no longer receive a paycheck.
I remember my emotions that day: shock, disbelief…and panic. How could this be happening? How would I support myself? I’d been casually looking for a job and hadn’t found anything – would I actually find something? When? Would I like the job I found? I didn’t want to be desperate about it, but I didn’t have much time to spare – my paycheck is pretty important to our family.
Then I remembered the blog post I wrote last year: Regrouping after a job loss – Don’t Panic! I decided to practice what I preached.
After a few days, the shock started to wear off and I was able to sit down and assess my situation. This is what I found:
- I did have two months to find a new job, though I still had to go in to work every day during that period.
- Thankfully, I’ve always been a good saver, so I had enough money in savings to tide us over for several months, if necessary.
- My husband was still working and bringing home a paycheck.
Knowing that I would be fine financially for several months and reminding myself that there was no need to panic, I set to work on creating a clear set of goals for my next position. Not only did I define the responsibilities that I wanted, I also determined where I wanted to work, narrowed down the titles I was searching for, and made a goal for my salary range.
These are the steps I decided to take with my finances:
- We had saved up for a new bed and were preparing to buy it when I got this news. We put that large purchase on hold because, even though I hoped it wouldn’t take that long to find a new job, I knew the landlord wouldn’t take a piece of the new mattress as rent payment!
- I had been considering buying a new car, but since mine was still in great shape, I was able to put that purchase on hold as well.
- I was contributing 12% of my paycheck to my 401k account. I decided to drop that percentage back down to 5% in order to still take advantage of the full company match, and put the extra money in my paycheck in a savings account earmarked as money to contribute to my IRA (to learn more about a 401k company match, visit this post). This action increased my readily available funds, and if I didn’t have to use them, I would then move the money I’d saved to my IRA account as planned.
- I paid very close attention to how I was spending my money and made sure that I didn’t spend more than was absolutely necessary. No luxury items, no impulse purchases – ultimately, no money going out of my wallet for anything that wasn’t absolutely essential.
- I realized this was my chance to find a job that really made me happy! Truth be told, I wasn’t happy in my position anymore and was in need of a change. But you know how that goes– it can sometimes seem easier to stay with the devil you know than take a chance on the devil you don’t know.
I spent hours on the phone and in person, speaking with recruiters and discussing with each of them what I was looking for in my next position. The potential opportunities were exciting, but the process was exhausting at times. On top of that, not everyone was enthusiastic about the goals I had set for myself – some said I would never be able to get the titles I aspired to, others said I’d never be able to find a job in the area I wanted, and still others said I’d never earn the salary I wanted. When that happened, I thanked them and moved on, because I realized that I needed to work with people who believed in me!
It took me a month, but I’m happy to say that I found a job that’s perfect for me – I now have more responsibility, I’m closer to home, and I got the salary that I asked for! An added bonus: the environment of my new company is wonderful and my coworkers are fantastic!
Now that I’ve been in my new position for four months, I can look back and sincerely say that I’m glad I was forced to look for a new job. I am so much happier now and I’m learning a lot! Events perhaps didn’t start the way I’d expected, but they ended up better than I’d hoped.
We also purchased our new bed and we’re getting a better night’s sleep – thank goodness! And I’m restarting my search for the perfect new car for me.
The moral of the story is – don’t panic when you lose your job! Take stock of where you are and know that right here and now, in this moment, you are fine. Organize your thoughts, have a clear set of goals in mind, and then go for it! Things often work out better than you can imagine!
Fun fact for today: The Department of Treasury first issued paper currency in 1862 to make up for the shortage of coins after the Civil War. The first denominations of paper currency printed were 1 cent, 5 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents. Source: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0774850.html