JUST OFF BROKE
Here is something that really bothers me. Half of this country do not have benefits with their jobs. This means that there’s no leave, sick pay, holiday pay or anything to fall back on if you lose or quit your job. Unfortunately for me, I’m in this position too. This means that you have to look after yourself if things go wrong with your job.
When I talk to friends in this situation many of them have no savings what so ever. They are working full time hours and living pay check to pay check. For what it’s worth I totally get that. I struggle to save $100 a week (especially now with the cost of fuel and food going up) but I feel a lot better seeing even a couple thousand in my bank account. I am far from rich, but it’s nice to know that if I lose my job I’m not “up the shitter” the second I cease employment. The minute too many of my friends lose their job they are basically stuffed. They are in essence, employed, but just off broke.
Think about this
Have a think about this. If you lost your job do you have any savings you can fall back on? A surprisingly large amount of people would be unable to function more than a fortnight beyond their last pay check. Some of these people have good jobs too. We’ve all got differing circumstances some people might have children, medical bills or whatever, so I’m not judging anyone in this position. I’ve spent a lot of my life in this position. I’ve only just managed to claw my way out of it over the last year or so. Ask yourself this. What the hell are you working for if the second you lose your job, you’re boned?
SO WHAT DO YOU DO FROM HERE?
Does your country have social security or unemployment provisions? Lucky for me Australia does. What happens in your country? and with the fact I’ve paid off half my home loan I can almost pay this down off the unemployment cheque. This does not allow for anything else like food, bills or petrol or anything else that might come up. It’s important to note, most people in this country would not be able to make rent or mortgage payments on their unemployment payments. But its important to know where you stand financially if things went to crap.
What if something goes wrong?
Try this for yourself. Work out your expenses every week. Be realistic. Include rent / mortgage, power, fuel, food, water, any phone bills, credit and everything you need to keep on living. Once you’ve got a figure for a week, how much do you have in cash reserves? For example I need $700 a week to pay bills and function as a human (though I can cut this down to $500 p/wk if I stop paying the less urgent bills like power, rates and water, spend less on fuel etc… ), and just focus on eating and keeping my home. Let’s say if I have $3500 in reserve I can basically get by for 5 weeks or even up to 7 weeks if I let the bills pile up. Much longer if I can get that unemployment payment. I’d like to think with 7 weeks up my sleeve I can secure some sort of employment (even if only part time or temporary) to at least plug the holes in my finances temporarily.
Week to week survival
I consider myself reasonably resourceful. If I can get a $100 – $200 a week coming in off some cash or part time jobs (ie: gardening or removal work etc…) this actually puts me in a strong position and really extends the time I can be without full time employment almost indefinitely. I can now survive week to week. It’s just the big bills I have to worry about piling up. This means that I have some level of time up my sleeve to find a reasonable job not just take the first thing going. It also means I can work part time at something I don’t want to be in long term and look for a better job on my down time (remember when you work full time it’s really had to attend job interviews etc…).
Back up Plans
Assuming of course you’re not already behind there’s certain other things you can do to buy yourself some time:
- IF you have a home loan, ring your bank and tell them what’s happened – here in Australia most banks will let you have up to 3 months grace if your account is otherwise up to date
- Most utilities like water and electricity will do the same
- Think of things you can do to pull in a few dollars on the side (see article ‘side hustles’ for some ideas)
If you’re renting your place this makes things a bit harder. Most landlords will not let you fall more than a few weeks behind before taking legal action to either remove you or recover funds. Whatever you do keep your rent up to date! If you have a mortgage, you can in fact extend this out by up to 6 months before many of them will take legal action (at least this is how it is in Australia, but it’s definitely worth finding out what the banks in your country will do in this situation). But then you have the problem of paying it back. This is going to be hard when you also have to catch up on other bills. Banks will not let you run the account 6 months in arrears without showing that you’re catching it up at a rapid rate.
A LITTLE BIT OF PADDING
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a little bit of back up or savings in the bank can really make a difference to what options you have if things go south. I’ve been in both situations. I’ve had to take the first job that came along because I basically had nothing in the bank and believe me it bites. Now I’m in a situation where if things went wrong with my job I have some level of choice. I’ll continue to keep building my padding bit by bit, as this seems to be the story of my life. I also have little to no faith in the stability of my job. But next time something goes wrong at least I’ll have some options.
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