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No More Breadwinners …What To Do?

Molly is a blogger with her husband Mike at (appropriately enough)  For the past two years Molly has been writing about how they cut back their expenses by more than half and expounding on other financial matters on her blog Molly On Money.  Last month they launched a new blog called Mike and Molly’s House where they share their love of making, building, sewing and growing stuff and living on less.  They live just outside of Santa Fe, NM with their two girls.  

A few weeks ago I was laid off. It wasn’t entirely unexpected but it did throw us for a bit of a loop. It wouldn’t be much of a problem but my husband, Mike, lost his job back in March and is still out of work.

Right now we should be totally freaked out.
Right now we should be looking at our savings wistfully and waving good-bye.
Right now we should be in bed, curled around each other, crying, wondering what the H-E-double hockey sticks we’re going to do.

But we’re not.

We’re actually OK because our overhead is pretty low. We’re lucky, because not so very long ago we would have been doing all those things.

A few years ago I was under the impression that planning for a rainy day was far too boring and practical. Only old people did that or the very rich. We were anything but boring, practical, old or rich. We were ‘interesting’. We traveled, went out to nice dinners, freaked out over our credit card bills and wondered (again) if we were going to have to claim bankruptcy. Mike and I were making more money collectively than we ever had. We saved none of it. Our expenses were growing nicely along with our income. We knew the reality of being on the financial edge- a few years before we had almost lost everything due to our business not thriving. There was many a night where we were curled up in a fetal position, weeping, wondering how we were going to make it through the month.

It was all very exciting. Mike had had enough of all this excitement and finally cried ‘uncle’. I was not so convinced because I was bought into the myth that this is what everyone did- spent more than they made. When I finally realized that saving money was no different than getting my car filled with gas before I ran out, I could clearly see that planning for my financial freedom would take away the stress I was carrying around with me every day.

I got on board the ‘live within your means’ train and we started cutting back- SEVERLY. We turned our financial situation around and it felt really good. I don’t want to sugar-coat it and present it as, ‘OMG you too can be as successful as we are, it’s so easy!’ because it wasn’t. It felt like Mike cut my arm off and then said, ‘See, it’s not such a big deal!’ I had a ton of excuses about why we needed to spend all our money all the time. They seemed very convincing. Looking back I can see how much I was fooling myself.

Now we live comfortably on less than half of what we did two years ago.
Our lives have changed dramatically – for the better.
Now we have flexibility and our lives can continue to change with ease because we are not dependent on large sums of money coming in to pay for things we bought years ago.

Before it was as if we were water violently crashing onto rocks now it’s like we flow gracefully around them. I have more freedom now than I ever did. Yes, I have moments when I wish I could have my cleaning lady back (dear god, just for an afternoon) or that I could hop on a plane and visit an old friend. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns but it is so much….better?….enriching?…real. Its real and it feels good.

We do need to get jobs. Yes, that needs to happen. We do need to cut back a little more on our expenses and we do have a shortfall between what we are spending and what is coming in from unemployment. But it’s manageable and we have an opportunity to be thoughtful about the next move rather than feeling forced to jump into the next situation.

That’s priceless.

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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14 thoughts on “No More Breadwinners …What To Do?

  1. It is amazing the freedom that comes with having an emergency fund and enough money to manage a period of reduced or cut off income. I think it makes you more productive and allows you to take more risks, with higher reward.

    Great for you, and I hope you are able to find employment soon!

  2. Great job providing yourself with some cushion. I think this economy has taught a lot of people the same lesson. Still, no one can survive for ever (unless your retired). Good luck finding new employment.

  3. That’s amazing. Good for you, Molly! I always think that that’s why I save money, too. So when the worst DOES happen, I’ll be OK. I feel pretty secure in my job right now, but should I be laid off, or want to leave for some reason, it is comforting to know that I wouldn’t go off the rails the next month, and I have a bit of a cushion to find something else instead of just taking whatever crappy job comes at me first. Best of luck with everything!

  4. @College for Money Pro- I totally agree!

    @20’s Finance- It will be interesting to see if these lessons stick when times get better. Historically that has not been the case!

    @Evan-We have two girls close in age. One was ‘whatever’ about it while the other was really freaked out. Immediately we had a family meeting so we could talk about the facts and what their worries were. I could see that my older daughter was still a little freaked. We continued to ask her questions like, ‘what do you think is going to happen?’,… It seemed to help and I believe her initial reaction was tied to what was suppose to happen: we stress out and have no money and our lives suck.
    We are open with our finances with the kids. We have a budget/spent white board in our kitchen.

    To everyone- thanks for all the supportive words!

  5. You guys really are an inspiration. I love how self sufficient you guys have become and I love how much you guys are embracing it. You make it fun. Good luck to you guys.

  6. @ First Gen- let’s not forget my apple cider vinegar hair rinse! I may smell like a salad but it’s a cheap head of smelly salad 🙂

  7. @Briana- Oh but see this is the exciting part about being 40ish- we had several trains hit before! We almost lost our house and cars a few years before this to a near bankruptcy. I guess that would not constitute a train wreck but a near miss.
    During this time we turned towards and gave each other support. It’s something that can tear a couple apart. I thank god it didn’t with us.
    Good luck and keep focused.

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