Have you ever stopped to consider what would happen if you lost your job? Do you know how much you’d get from unemployment, or what your bare bones expenses are?
I’ve steadfastly avoided thinking much about it because it’s one of my deepest fears.
As much as I complain about our stressful finances, I know we’re actually in a pretty good place. We have savings — up until Tim’s teeth need to get done — and I bring in a more-than-fair amount from my job.
But occasionally the thought flits through my brain at full volume, “WHAT IF YOU GET FIRED?” And panicked screaming begins in my head.
Because we’d be screwed. I’m not eligible for unemployment, and the other companies in my industry don’t offer telecommuting. Thanks to fatigue, there’s just no way I can reliably work outside the house.
So I start thinking about how on earth we’d live on Tim’s $730 disability check. (Even if I reapplied for disability, I’d be lucky to get approved within two years.) I’m sure Tim would try to work, but his various conditions mean it’s unlikely he could keep it up.
But then a thought occurs to me: I can freelance. It’s by no means easy. I’d be stressed pretty constantly between querying for jobs and balancing multiple deadlines. Plus, by and large, you’re just not paid a lot for posts. Even some of the bigger sites can pay as little as $50. Maybe they pay more for regular contributors but… eesh.
So I need to assume the worst case scenario. I have to assume that we’d be scrambling to meet our basic costs. What would that realistically look like?
Well, we’d need to cut the IRA contributions and stop paying extra on the mortgage. Without my current job, we could switch to a lower speed for Internet. We’d also scale down to the smallest Vonage package. The guest house rent generally covers all of our utilities, but I’d budget an extra $100 just in case.
We’d keep Hulu and Netflix in there ($32). We’d also still pay for the Banfield plan for Patches ($26). And I’d want to put money aside $87.50 a month for car insurance and $75 a month for Tim’s quarterly re-up on medications. Given his physical problems, Tim needs at least one massage a month. More realistically, two. We can keep bartering for one of them and pay our discounted rate ($35 plus tip) for the other.
In the end, the number is right around $2,550. That might be a little optimistic, but let’s assume we’d be able to tighten our belts.
That means I would need to earn about $1,820 a month in freelance. Which means I might have to finish a post every other day — or even more frequently. Over time, of course, I could start asking more and get some regular gigs, which generally pay a little better.
I’d also invest some time and money into this blog to get it profitable: a cleaner theme (only been meaning to do that for two years), more networking/leaving comments to drive up traffic, more affiliate stuff.
I should mention that it’s incredibly unlikely that I’d get fired. We’re doing well enough that my boss actually gives out yearly bonuses. Plus, I’m the only person working days. So if money got tight, I bet I’d just have to take a pay cut.
But if the worst did happen, at least I know I can manage. We wouldn’t run through savings immediately. We wouldn’t lose the house. That nicely quells the fetal-position-inducing panic that crops up around the subject.
What’s your emergency budget? If you couldn’t get a job in the same industry, how would you make ends meet?