A couple weeks ago, I hit the one-year mark of being unemployed. Celebration was
It’s been an interesting twelve months. Last July, when my previous job ended, I was in the process of interviewing for two full-time positions, and I felt fairly confident that at least one of them would turn into a job offer. Not so.
Once it became clear that no job offers were pending, I signed up for unemployment benefits. Between the regular benefits and the federal extension, I received weekly unemployment payments for seven-and-a-half-months. During that time, between my unemployment income and the fact that we were no longer paying for childcare, we were almost break-even, financially speaking.
While the days could drag on a bit, I was pleasantly surprised at my rather smooth transition to the [temporary (ha!)] stay-at-home-mom role. Just past his first birthday, Gabriel learned to walk and started becoming more of a little person, more interactive and a bit less dependent. We filled the autumn months with long, lazy walks with no destination and settled into a decent routine.
Then winter hit, and I lost my easy outdoor entertainment just as Sir entered a particularly clingy, fussy, challenging stage. It was a pretty dark time for me.
This renewed my determination to find a job, or, at the very least, find some kind of part-time care for Gabriel to preserve my sanity.
Time crawled on with some leads, but no results, on either the childcare or the employment fronts. I received my last unemployment payment, and the “out” column surpassed the “in” column on our bank statement.
Winter finally gave way to spring, and I started feeling a bit better, just in time for the in-home childcare provider down the street to say she was willing to take Gabriel part time.
Still liking the idea of a bit more time and space without a toddler, and ever optimistic that a job offer could be right around the corner, I started walking Sir down the street to Mrs. L’s twice a week.
That was almost two months ago now. While I was rather unphased when the unemployment payments ended in March, the financial realities of being a one-income household are starting to sink in.
We’ve been okay (and will, theoretically, continue to be okay — for awhile, at least) due to the fact that we saved like crazy while we were both working, especially in the pre-baby years.
While we are not impoverished, the reality is that we are also not all that far (family of four vs. family of three, or a few thousand dollars less income a year) from qualifying for federal benefits like Food Stamps or the WIC program.
That, and it’s hard to see our savings being drained, especially when we hoped to have that money for a down payment on a house (you know, in about twenty million years when we finally find the needle in a haystack for which we search) and a start for Sir’s college fund, not to mention retirement.
I don’t really know how we managed when we were both working full time, caring for an infant/child, and making most of our food from scratch. Somehow we slogged through that first year of Gabriel’s life, but ay yi yi!
As much as the financial security of two incomes was great, one person at home makes the simple, DIY lifestyle we prefer a lot easier, while still allowing time to relax and breathe a bit in the evenings.
I’m still looking and applying for jobs. I do have a very part-time option that would at least pay for my daycare habit (hey, there could be worse habits, right?), though it won’t put us back in the “saving money” column.
We’re tentatively exploring some options, including one of us going back to school for a career field that would allow us to live comfortably on one income, though that may be more of a knee-jerk reaction than a wise choice at this point.
One day at a time, I guess.