March 6, 2013

Living Life on the Financial Edge

published this at 1:18 pm

If you have a full-time job, one that pays good wages and is all but a sure thing, by all means enjoy it.

As I and millions of others discovered in recent years, a sure thing in the workplace is about as reliable as politicians in Washington, D.C. coming together for the good of the people.

Having been laid off twice in the last seven years, I can say that both experiences were different.

The first job loss in 2006 (after five-and-a-half years with the company) really came out of the blue. Even the manner in which I was informed, an email from a supervisor on a Friday morning, was a tad shocking.

After the reality of the situation set in, I did something down the road that no one should ever do, I began to panic.

How would I pay my rent? Could I still make my car payments? Would I not be able to afford health insurance now that I was on COBRA (the first layoff taught me to get my own health insurance policy, something I carry to this day)?

Despite the best parents in the world helping me out financially, I still was forced to pile up debt on credit cards, not to mention raid some of my retirement fund. I then made matters worse by temporarily moving to Arizona, taking a nearly $12,000 pay cut from the previous job I had been laid off at, and continued wallowing in debt.

After six months in Arizona, I knew that going back to California was not only something I wanted to do, I needed to do.

Was Another Layoff Possible?

So that I don’t make you change the channel, I will skip a few years from then until my second layoff last summer in marketing.

Although I was a top producer in my department (achieved three bonuses) when it came to turning out copy, I was let go after 14 months. Once the initial shock wore off, I came to realize that such a move was probably inevitable, especially given the mismanagement at the company by some of the executives.

With few full-time jobs calling my name, I went back to my old standby, freelancing.

Despite more than 20 years of writing experience, I get few if any phone calls for job interviews these days, knowing that many companies prefer paying someone just out college meager wages as opposed to what someone with decades of experience would command. I also know that many of these companies will face a revolving door of workers, those smart ones who do not take long to realize they are being underpaid, especially given today’s cost of living expenses.

While freelancing is for now keeping a roof over my head and food on the table, it is by no means job security.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for any work thrown my way these days, I just know that I’m living life on the financial edge.

Every time I drive by a homeless person or homeless encampment (they seem to grow by the day here in San Diego), I realize that that could be me in a month, two months, six months from now. On the other hand, I also know that there are people far worse off than I am right now.

It almost seems sad, here in the richest and most powerful country in the world, many people are not able to realize the American Dream.

What the future holds for me I can’t predict, something few if any of us can for that matter. I do know, however, that being a freelance writer is not the worse thing in the world.

That being said, I would not mind if I was not living so close to the financial edge.

Have you had ups and downs in your career over the years?

If so, what has it taught you about surviving in today’s world?

 

Photo credit: bubblews.com

About the Author: With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers a variety of small business topics, including finding the best invoice software.

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