Lessons Learned from The Season of Unemployment


When Brad and I walked through the first shocking days of unemployment, we weren’t sure what our plan of action would be.  We needed to find something quickly, as our savings was not enough to sustain us for a long haul of job searching. However, our options seemed so few with our family situation and circumstances.  I couldn’t go back to work due to my health challenges after the pregnancy, and putting four toddlers in day care would have zapped any income I could bring in alone. Brad’s field of work had taken a direct hit in the recession, causing a very crowded pool of applicants with very few openings to submit his resume. We were open to moving, to doing whatever we had to do to pay the incoming bills, but we didn’t have any immediate solutions.

We had to wait.

Waiting is hard, y’all. Watching your savings dwindle and not knowing where and how you would pay the next round of expenses, is one of the greatest tests of faith that we’ve ever experienced.

While we waited, searched, and prayed we also did the following to slow the depletion of our modest emergency fund:

  • We quit paying extra on our mortgage.

  • We cut back on any spending we could. {No Christmas gifts for family, no new clothes, no traveling, no extras.}

  • We looked for creative ways to save money. I cut coupons, followed frugal blogs, played the CVS Extra Care Bucks game, and made serious cuts in our grocery budget.

  • We fought the urge to use credit cards as a crutch to get through the season.

  • We talked about our employment options. We looked at part-time options while we looked for something more permanent, and took on small jobs to help provide for our immediate needs.

  • We took a fresh look at our skills, gifts, and passions. This eventually led Brad to starting his own web solutions company.

  • We didn’t go uninsured. We carefully researched our health insurance options.

What we failed to do:

  • We failed to plan, budget, and set goals during the uncertainty of unemployment.  We both wanted it to end so badly, that we failed to plan for what would happen if it continued.

  • We didn’t seek help in reducing our home and car insurance payments. {Dave’s independent insurance ELPs save people around $500 a year! }

  • We didn’t understand the tax implications for unemployment.

  • We failed to ask for help – when financial planning advice would have been hugely beneficial. We felt alone in our struggles, and too embarrassed to share our financial specifics with anyone.

  • We failed to see it as a blessing. Even though so many people around us encouraged us with words of, “This might be the best thing that has ever happened to you”, “Something even better is right around the corner”, “Just enjoy this extended time with your family” it was a difficult perspective to live out daily.

As the holidays approach, we’re all looking for ways to help others in need, to give back, to love and love well. Chances are, we all probably know at least one family facing unemployment right now.  Or perhaps you know someone facing a challenging financial situation – the potential loss of a home, an income cut, overwhelming medical bills, or another straining circumstance.

What can you do to soften the blow? How can you offer your support?

Here Are a Few Ways We’ve Learned Through Our Experience to Support Others Facing Financial Hardships:

  • Offer a listening ear and an open invitation to be present.

  • Pray for your friends. What a gift it was to know people were praying for our decisions and future.

  • Refer them to a trustworthy professional. We recommend the ELP network, who have the heart of a teacher and a good reputation.

  • Offer suggestions, but not solutions.  We aren’t authorized to make life decisions for others, and we can’t understand their exact circumstances. Just because you saw a help wanted sign, it may not reflect the perfect solution for replacing their full-time income.

  • Offer gift cards for groceries or local restaurants.

  • Make connections and referrals to friends who might have employment leads. Send an email to a former work connection, reach out to a friend who works in their related field, forward their resume on to a personal connection.

  • Show up with a gift basket of necessities: groceries, toilet paper, diapers, etc.

What’s the hardest financial struggle YOU have faced?  How did you survive it?  What helped you along the way?

{Thanks so much to Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers for sponsoring this blog post and allowing us to share our personal financial story.}



2 thoughts on "Lessons Learned from The Season of Unemployment"

  1. Lisa Davis says:

    Thank you for this article, I have just been laid off & for the first time since I was 15 years old do not have a job. It is terrifying and being a single mom only adds to the stress/fear. Your article took away some of the. Thanks you!

  2. Rachel says:

    I found this article on Pinterest and it came at the perfect time. My husband and I lost our business and home in March and have been unemployed since. We moved our family from Alaska to Utah and are now living with his brother and his family. We couldn’t ask for better people to live with but as with all circumstances like this it’s still hard.
    The toughest part for me is living in the now. I look to the future, and it’s hard not to. Everyday you hope that someone will contact you and you will have work. So I’m constantly looking forward to a time we can have a job, a place of our own and so my husband can feel better about himself. Its tough you’ve got to keep spirits high or they can go low quickly. In the past two months he has applied for over 400 jobs and only heard back from three, but nothing that goes anywhere.
    What I have taken from this is to live in the now! I have a two and three year old and they pick up on the stress so easily. It’s so important to make my focus on what they need and how they feel. When mom is happy the kids are happy!
    And I also realized that I need to be aware of others. You can’t get caught up in your own needs and struggles or they will consume you. Go out and find someone who needs help. In this economy everybody is struggling in some way or another. I know I’ll be blessed if I help my neighbors and friends.
    I hadn’t thought of taxes and car insurance, I’m going to look into that right away. Thanks again!

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