FIRED! LAID-OFF! NO NOTICE! HERE IS YOUR FINAL CHECK! What now because I feel like a LOSER!

GLRED

Paralyzed by fear would sum up how I felt within 24 hours of receiving a letter from Price Water House terminating my employment effective at 8am the following day. The day prior to receiving this letter I followed my employer’s instructions and laid-off approximately 125 employees. I explained the company was simply reorganizing. I, too, believed this to be a true statement. The month was March. The year was 1996 and a bankruptcy court had appointed Price Water House to run the company that employed me. My employer’s company had been placed into receivership three days after all my possessions arrived to my company paid apartment… a high rise penthouse suite. By the way, I was representing my employer in a country other than the USA.

The next 3 months I experienced many different emotions; shock, numbness, shame, worry, helplessness, anger and betrayal.  I was panicked stricken.

When I finally made my way outside of my beautiful high rise apartment, I felt I had an imaginary neon light above my head flashing the letter “L” that stood for LOSER.

I’d like to tell you that I bounced back immediately. Not so much. It took three months to get out of a country I felt sequestered to, and seven months to obtain employment. Twelve interviews later I accepted a wonderful job opportunity in New Port Beach, California.

Thinking back, when it came to filing for unemployment benefits, knowing how to communicate and negotiate with my vehicle financing company, credit card companies, and anyone else I owed money to, I was absolutely in the dark. It’s so difficult to know what to do when you don’t know what you are supposed to do. Ya know?  Yes, I eventually landed on my feet. Ten months later with a good job living steps away from the beautiful beaches of Pacific Coast Highway in sunny New Port Beach, California. Even so, it would take approximately 6 years to rebuild my credit and feel a sense of stability in my life.

I could go on and on sharing the peaks and valleys of my 1996 experience. Perhaps at another place in time I may decide to write more. For purposes of this blog my objective is simple. First I’ll briefly touch base on the horrific impact of the ever lingering economic downturn to a few of my coworkers. Then I’d like to walk you through how their coping skills catapulted me to be proactive in an economy that was still spiraling. All valuable lessons learned between 1996 and my life year to date. I knew there was no way I would allow myself to sit and do nothing this time around.  Surviving the 1996 experience (Bruised and tattered as I was.) I gained a sense that I could live through any corporate restructure… downsize… shut down…realignment…termination. Today I know this is true.

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The last time I experienced the above level of stress came after a former business partner committed suicide. We worked together at the largest financial institution in the world (Well, it was the largest before the credit crises.) He was our area investment vice president. He killed himself with a gunshot to the head leaving behind a wife and five year-old son. The year was 2008. The month was April, five months away from the credit crises that certainly had my mammoth Wall Street employer on everyone’s radar.

Seven months later my dotted line manager for my division would attempt suicide but live to talk about it. Prior to his suicide attempt, he learned his position within our company was being eliminated across the country. I learned about this one evening while leaving an evening class. He called to let me know (Give me a “heads up”) an announcement would be made to all employees the next day. He also wanted me to know he would be taking some time off to consider his options.

He had recently relocated his family and life to the area we worked. He bought a fabulous house (Thanks to those great mortgages!) on a great side of town, beautiful back yard with swimming pool and gorgeous garden in the front. Material possessions, living on the right side of town, picturesque house and yards make life look so perfect, doesn’t it?

When I got home from my class, my other half was still on the golf course. It was dark outside which meant it would be dark in our house. I unlocked the door, turned off the alarm, walked into the house and sat in the middle of the couch. I never turned on any lights. I sat in the dark for about an hour. I sat and I thought.

I thought about the possibility of walking into work the next day and learning my job had been eliminated. I thought about my coworker who committed suicide. I thought about his wife and son. I thought about my dotted line manager whose position had been eliminated after relocating his family and his life to an unattractive geographic location. (Unless you were born in this area you only relocate for your career as I had done seven years before him.) Lastly and importantly, I thought about a plan. I needed a plan this time. No surprises. I was far too wise to get caught with (as my Aunt said in 1996) my pants down again. Yes, much too wise and far too smart to sit and do nothing while I became another casualty of such a sick economy.

I got up out of the dark, walked into our office and sat down at the computer. I proceeded to take the listed steps below. I have written the steps in an instructional context in hopes that just one person may find my suggestions helpful.

In order to do the following exercise, I suggest to create a spread sheet on excel. However, if you are not comfortable using excel, a piece of notebook paper, ruler and a calculator are fine too.

#1 – Unemployment Benefits – I asked myself, “If I was fired tomorrow how much money would I receive from unemployment?” I was able to find this information through several dozen internet searches. (NOTE: If you have already been released from your job- First things first: Go online and file for your unemployment benefits: Most everything you need to do for this process can be done online.)

#2- COMMUNICATE - If one person in the household (wife / husband) opened, reviewed and paid the bills each month, it is time to partner with each other to get on the same page, and create a budget plan.

The plan stands a better chance to be successful if each person in the household is a part of the process.

#3- What dollar amount comes into the household each month? At this stage, identify your new “bring home dollar number”. If you live in a two income household, a layoff means the household is now a one income household plus unemployment benefits. (Again, assuming you’re eligible for unemployment benefits.) Regarding the amount of weekly benefits you can expect to receive from state unemployment, this number varies by state and your prior work history. Until this benefit amount has been clarified, you will only have 50% of your number for this exercise. Don’t let that stop either of you from sitting down together and beginning this exercise. This number will (should) determine the development of your plan. If you have an emergency fund for situations like unemployment, great! Don’t touch it just yet. Go through all the exercises to see how well you can manage things by simply making some lifestyle changes. What is your new bring home dollar amount _____? Go ahead and project this number until the benefit amount is confirmed.

#4-What are your monthly bills? I would often tell my bank clients, run your numbers to find your magic number that meant what dollar amount do you pay to each vendor/person on a monthly basis?  You will more than likely have a fixed dollar amount for certain vendors, i.e., rent or mortgage, vehicle payment, car insurance, student loan, cable (I will address cable shortly!), etc. And you will more than likely have other monthly payments that vary by payment to each vendor, i.e., power bill, gas bill, water bill, etc. Don’t forget to list your credit card debt also. Everything needs to be listed. What is your magic number ____?

#5 – What is your Gap number? Subtract your final number for #4 from your final number for #3. Chances are you have a negative number.

Your monthly bills exceed the amount of money the combined household will be bringing in a month. In short, this is your Gap number. Don’t be alarmed just yet. As a former banker I can’t even begin to tell you how many of my customers never even made it this far before sitting down with me. More on this point later. Trust me when I say your efforts thus far have put things more in your control than you realize. Now it’s time to go back to #4.

 

#6 – What is on the chopping block? Go back to #4 and review all your monthly bills. "Use a fine tooth comb”, so to speak, in this process. Where can you chop cost? I have offered many suggestions below:

Regarding eliminating bills all together- Does anything stand out on your list of bills that you can get rid of? Some examples would be; exterminator wine or beer clubs, car wash, tanning bed, gym membership, Blockbuster, Netflix. Call your cellular company to make sure you and/or your family is still on the right plan.

Do you have unlimited text or do you get charged per text? Do you pay for 3000 minutes a month when historically, for the past six months, you have used less than 2000 minutes per month? Ask your cellular representative to review the last four to six months of usage with you. Do not hesitate to ask the representative if you are on the right cellular plan. If not, ask for their recommendations. At this point make sure you listen carefully. Unless it makes practical sense, do not get sucked into new contracts or the latest and greatest new phone because you are due for an upgrade. (Oh, and because it makes you look cool.) Unless that upgrade is 100% free, there is no reason to pay one cent for the newest model phone on the market. You are unemployed! Save the upgrade for your next great job. Do you use coupons? Consider it. If you have a storage unit, is it necessary? Think about it. Now might be a good time to clean it out. Do you even know what is in there?

Regarding your review of the rest of your monthly bills- The same “fine tooth comb effort” needs to be taken with the rest of the monthly bills on your list. When you are not home do you leave anything on? When you are not in a room do you leave lights on? Spend some time on the computer researching household appliances/items that use the majority of your electricity. The refrigerator is HUGE. Make sure the refrigerator door shuts tightly, etc. Get creative in this area. There are hidden costs.

Regarding credit card debt- Big groan, huh? At first glance it feels like a huge pill that is tough to swallow.  During my 1996 experience I mentioned all my possessions had just arrived to my high rise in the sky. I absorbed all moving cost anticipating reimbursement. It was a standard procedure for me to out lay cash to handle unscheduled expenses. I never thought twice before using my credit cards for company needs. I trusted that shortly after submitting my expense reports, a timely reimbursement check always followed. Of course this statement was true until Price Water House released me.

When I finally caught my breath and started assessing my financial situation, I could not figure out how I was going to swing all my bills after paying my credit card bills.  Most of my credit cards required full payment each month. The combined total for the two credit cards I used for company expenses was approximately $6000. (OUCH!) After two weeks of trying to *run my numbers* I finally realized I was not going to be able to pay these credit card bills right away. This was very hard for me to swallow. Having been a little too carefree at the end of college and accumulating debt, I had already learned the importance of paying my bills on time each month. The circumstances of unemployment put me in a situation where I was forced to pick and choose in order to survive. Remember, I had to get out of another country.

If you have credit cards and are fortunate enough to have low interest rates on your cards, chances are you have good credit. This is also an indicator that you have been able to maintain your monthly payments on time. When payments are late you run the risk of your interest rate sky rocketing to the flight of 29.99%.

That is a huge OUCH! Minimum payments increase significantly and the majority of your payment goes toward interest versus principal which leads me to the subject of your credit card payments… If you are unemployed today and have a credit card bill (s) that requires say $250…$275….$325 monthly payment, you will start to feel as though you are drowning quickly. As you review your bills you may find yourself, like me, in a situation where you need to choose who/what gets paid “right away”.

Let me be clear. I am not advocating that you don’t pay your credit card bills or any bills for that matter. I am suggesting creative, legal ways to survive. This is all a part of reviewing your current situation. In short, how much money is coming into the household each month and how much money needs to go out each month to pay your bills? In order to know the answers to these two questions you have to work though some exercises. As my accountant once said to me, “Numbers don’t lie.” You need to know your numbers.

You need to contact and inform your credit card company about the changes of your employment status. Clearly communicate your lay-off and ask to discuss options available to you. Ideally what you need to look for a liquidation program. Yes, these types of programs will usually suspend your credit card if not close the card all together, but the program also reduces your interest rate to 9.99%, give or take, and sets you up on a monthly payment plan. While I don’t encourage you to call these companies with a high and mighty attitude telling them what they need to offer you, I do encourage you to communicate your case and drive your point to whoever is on the phone. I say this because your initial request for options is usually met with a representative who tells you there is nothing that he or she can do for you. (Many are trained to respond in this manner.) Go through your drill again.

Say, “Listen, I am calling to let you know I was laid-off. I intend on paying my bill but want to know if you have options available to me in my circumstances.” If the representative now plays dumb and asks, “Like what type of options?” You reply, “Options that offer relief in my circumstances…like maybe a liquidation program that will put me on set monthly payments and reduce my current interest rate. I am in a position where I may need to pick and choose who I pay for the next 120 or so days. Don’t you want to be one of the vendors I pay?”Again, the telephone representative may not come across as helpful. If you are getting nowhere, ask to speak to a supervisor. No matter what the representative tells you, i.e., “If I can’t help they can’t either…..they will tell you the same thing I did….” Politely thank this person for trying to help you and insist that you are transferred to a supervisor. My point, don’t give up.

Given the state of our economy for so many months, credit card companies have numerous programs available to their customers. Dig down deep, toss your ego out the window and don’t give up until you find a way to lessen the burden of a $300 monthly payment (My example) without simply ignoring your bill all together. If all else fails, yes, you may find yourself in a position where you are picking and choosing who gets paid monthly. It may come down to mortgage (rent) or credit card (s)? You have to be the judge. Whatever you do, do not ignore your credit card bill (s).

Remember, once you are gainfully employed again (And you will be!) and your world begins to stabilize, you can rebuild your credit. I know it feels as though it is, but loss of credit card privileges or having to liquidate your credit cards, cancel credit cards, etc. is not the end of the world.

Trust me when I say this. This may sound kooky, but you need to comfort the inner you. Whether it is a silent thought, written in a journal or you say it out loud, tell yourself this situation is not your fault, you are not a loser, and you will be ok. And from me to you, "You will be ok." You did not single handedly bring down our economy. More than likely you were a victim of circumstance. This time will pass. I promise, I promise, I promise. Please stick around to watch it happen.

 

Regarding vehicle financing and deferment opportunities - I recommend using the same approach suggested for your credit card companies to be used with your vehicle finance company. When you call to make your finance company aware of your circumstances, ask about their programs. Usually finance companies are willing to defer two months of payments. (Believe me when I say, they DO NOT want to repo your car. They want their money!) This may even be written in small print on your purchase contract. Check it out first or take the short cut and call your finance company and/or banker. Understand in the deferment scenario the interest is usually moved to the tail end of the loan. While this may not be the best business decision in the world, it is usually offered for circumstances such as unemployment, etc.

Regarding vehicle financing and credit unions- Credit unions usually have many programs available to their members.  By the way, I love credit unions!

If you are a member walk in (Don't make an appointment.) to see a banker so you can discuss your employment status and different types of programs available to you. While each credit union is different, I have listed three examples;

1) Deferring vehicle payments for 3-6 months while you are seeking employment.

2) Loan rewrites- the purpose of a rewrite is to reduce your monthly payment. Again, a rewrite may not be the best business decision in the long run, remember your primary objective. You need to reduce the amount of money being paid out each month. If a car note can be reduced by just $75 a month, you can take the savings and apply it to the power or gas bill, etc.

3) SKIPS - If you are still in the job market during December and your credit union offers its members December SKIPS, this typically means you get to SKIP monthly payments on each of your "loans" (not credit cards). You will want to look into SKIPS early though because paper work usually needs to be submitted by mid November.

Regarding reducing bills- I like to pick on cable because it tends to be such a monthly income drain. (We used to spend seventy five dollars PLUS a month on cable!!! Ahhhh!!) If you have cable, is it the super duper package gives you every channel that was ever created and boxes in every room, remotes AND DVR??? (LOL!) Trust me when I say you can live without all of these bells and whistles for awhile.

Listen, unemployment is an inconvenience. I will not try to convince you otherwise. You need to try to remember that unemployment is TEMPORARY. I can’t stress this enough… unemployment is TEMPORARY. I suggest downgrading your cable to a Basic package so you can throw some money at your Gap number. BUT, if after reviewing all your bills you are able to chop cost in other areas and find you can have a little more than the Basic package, great! I suggest first going online to your cable company’s website to check out their different packages. Play with the numbers. Once you either know which package you want or if you have questions, then call the cable company. Now, before you make your call prepare yourself. Remember you will be talking to a sales person on the other end of the phone and it is the representative’s primary objective to sell! When a representative hears you want to leave or down grade your cable package, it is their queue (They have been trained to follow certain steps.) to ask you is, “Why are you leaving us?

This is another opportunity to throw your ego out the window and respond, “I am leaving because I was laid-off and I want to make sure I can put food on my children’s table.” This should stop any further sales pitches but if not and the pushy sales representative counters, “Can I offer you a different package at a lesser rate? Can I make you a deal for the next 90 days because surely you will get a job by then….blah…blah… blah…blah…blah.” Now you start putting your foot down, “Did you hear what I said to you? I lost my job. I can’t afford the Rolls Royce of cable packages! Please make the necessary changes to my cable package or transfer me to someone who can. Possibly your supervisor….”

Listen, if you end up downgrading your cable package, try not to mope around the house in front of the children.  It may be difficult, but TRY! Speaking of the children, if you have children, this is the number one reason to make sure your children are kept in the loop of the household income status. You need their support. If the children are kept in the dark about the household income/new budget, they will drive you crazy and guilty asking to go out to eat... and wanting yummy stuff at the grocery store, etc. My credit union banker shared something interesting she did years ago with her children when she was going through a divorce. Each pay day she would sit at the kitchen table with her children. She would either bring the bills due or a list with this information to the table. She also had cashed her check so she could hand the cash to her children. (I suggest monopoly money, etc.) As she read through the bills, i.e., the power bill is $75.80, the children would take $75.80 from their cash stash to give to her. When this process was complete, it helped the children understand that whatever was left in their cash stash would need to last for the next two weeks for groceries, gas, lunch money, etc. Powerful exercise!

The same company that provides you with cable service more than likely provides the internet service too. No secret here the internet is not cheap. If you find you need to turn off your internet during this period, keep in mind most libraries offer computer usage.

So, if you don’t have a library card already, this is a perfect time to get one. Go on line to learn about your local library requirements to receive a free Library card. The information should let you know what to bring with you to the library. In case you are not aware, most libraries offer children’s and teen videos/DVDs, music CDs, audio books, magazines and children’s books. I believe they offer adult books too. Maybe you and the other half can take advantage of time to start reading together.

Regarding family animals- Could your animals stand to be on a little diet? (I am being serious.) My kitties used to have wet food in the morning and evening. Now they are only treated to wet food for dinner. Three cats split a 5.5oz can of Friskies and one bowl of dry food for dinner. Their bowl of dry food will get them through the evening and night until breakfast which is, again, one bowl of dry food. They know the drill. When I made these changes to their diet I believe their little tummies shrunk up so the food portions work out just fine. Plus, they look good. Not too skinny. My tabby, Jimmy, used to be a big fatty cat and today he is quite the slim feline. I call him sexy Jim. Speaking of finding ways to reduce animal food costs, I have a girlfriend who only treats her two kitties to wet food one day a week. Friday. Believe me; her kitties understand wet food Fridays! My girl friend starts each Friday morning with a song, “Its wet food Fri-i-i-i-i-i-day!” Our animals are smart and there is no reason they are not a part of the budgeting.

Regarding eating out, Starbucks and such- Ok, this goes without saying. This area probably holds a good amount of your discretionary income (a.k.a., fun money, splurge money) Before I offer suggestions keep in mind that if you can make immediate changes in this area, your GAP number should reduce significantly. For two income households packed lunches and/or dinners can also help out the financial situation. Go ahead and run your numbers specifically in this area. Rather than spending money to pack a daily lunch, it might make better cost sense for you to buy lunch from places that offer a dollar menu, i.e., Taco Bell. If you are worried about calories go to Google to research some fast food eating establishments. Next, research their menus to select some healthy, low-cost items. In the words of a friend, "If you fail to plan you plan to fail."

This is certainly true for so many different scenarios in our life, but when a thirty or forty five minute lunch time is at play, your mind is at ease because you have a plan. For me, if I am counting my dollars I find a Taco Bell and order a bean burrito with no cheese or onion. (ACK-onion!)  If I am calorie counting I get a Chick-fil-A sandwich. It cost more than one dollar, but it is a great source of protein and less than 400 calories. I run so I need my protein!  Like I said, it is a fall back plan for me if I need to pick up something quick. 

Bottom line, until your employment situation changes, you just can’t afford to eat out every day unless you have mapped out a plan ahead of time. By the way, daily visits to Starbucks need to be reconsidered too. I don't care how much money I have in my checking account today, I don't think I could ever go back to daily morning visits to Starbucks! I treat myself to a Friday drink.

Regarding cocktails when eating out IF you are eating out- Drink your cocktails before you go out or pack a flask. (LOL!) Cocktails at dinner eat up too much discretionary income. (Remember, this is TEMPORARY!!) If you must go out, then plan in advance. Go to happy hours, one dollar beer nights, etc. Whatever your plan is though, stick to it. Remember, if you are out and you start drinking, it becomes easier after a drink or two to convince yourself, “Oh, one more (full priced) drink will not hurt…and then another….and then another.” Best advice, stay in control so you don’t bring on a pity party case of the “Screw its”. Don’t let all of your hard work and planning go to waste for something like alcohol. There is plenty of time later in life to blow it out. I promise.

Regarding interviews- When walking into interviews do not be embarrassed about your lay-off. Potential employers are not blind to the state of our economy. They know what has been going on in the world. When you sit in the interview remember you have an opportunity to tell your story any way YOU CHOOSE. More than likely you will be asked about the circumstances that led to your lay-off. There really is only one way to tell your story. It should be done in a professional manner which might go something like this,

“I worked for my last employer for five years. I really loved my job and enjoyed going to work each day. This was reflected in all of my performance evaluations. I even brought a copy of my last evaluation for you to review at your leisure. I am not going to lie to you about my feelings on the day I was laid-off. I was one of 50 employees who received the news at the same time. I left work feeling a little betrayed. Hurt even. Who wouldn’t feel that way after five years of dedicated employment… but when I put to be expected emotions aside, the business side of me understands. I realize my employer held on as long as possible maybe even longer than best for him and his own family, before the impact of a declining economy won and forced my company to shut their doors.”

Regarding credit and background checks, drug screens today- If you have been in the same job for the past ten or twenty years you need to be made aware that many employers run credit and background checks, as well as drug screens today. While you may receive an offer of employment don’t be surprised if the offer of employment is contingent on your passing a credit, background and/or drug check. (Try to become familiar with these words. You will usually read them in an offer letter of employment or perhaps on a document that you signed during the interview process.) Not all employers exercise these measures but many do. When a potential employer pulls a credit report that does not reflect your bills being paid it creates an immediate impression of you, i.e., how you might perform under pressure not to mention your lack of responsibility. As a former financial center manager we did all the above. On several occasions offers of employment were rescinded. In other words, thanks but no thanks.

 

Regarding you as a consumer with derogatory credit- If you were a client in my branch who was seeking credit solutions (credit cards, equity lines, personal and business credit lines and loans, etc.) with one of my bankers and needed an exception, I specifically wanted to review the period of time before your unemployment and how you managed your finances during your unemployment phase. Before I would go back to underwriting to request an exception to a declined credit application, I had referred to this information to help me determine whether or not to go to bat for my client.

Regarding adding a consumer statement to your credit report- If your credit is taking a beating during your unemployment phases, be aware you have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to have a consumer statement added to your credit report. Reasons such as falling behind on bills, credit cards cancelled or limits were reduced are prime examples of why you might add a consumer statement to your credit report. Your statement is an opportunity to “very briefly” explain that you were laid-off. In short, this is damage control and you are being proactive. Once the statement is added to your credit report, the credit bureau is required under a provision in the Fair Credit Reporting Act to give your consumer statement to anyone who obtains a copy of your credit report in the future. I believe this statement remains in your credit report for two to three years. Now I have heard there are mixed opinions about adding a consumer statement to your credit report. While some say a statement hurts your score, some appreciate your efforts to be proactive. You have to be the judge in this scenario. What is in your best interest? Personally I would add the statement. If you have an interest in adding a statement, search engines should provide all the instructions to do so. Just type in something like, add a consumer statement to my credit report.

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I realize much of what I have shared may not sound like rocket scientist information. To others though, it is helpful because most of this information is not top of mind when working through shock. This is why I have taken the time to write this blog.  Too many times I have witnessed clients and friends became paralyzed with fear after being laid-off.

When reality set in that their monthly household income would soon be reduced by close to 50% -for whatever reason- it was hard to know where to begin. It was as if they froze in time. Then time passes and before they knew it, they had not done anything to help their situation. If anything, they were worse off.  

Another suggestion and I know it is easier said than done, I encourage anyone who has been laid-off to dismiss the *loser thoughts* that might be circulating in your minds. Yes, feelings are subjective. Trust me I know all the different feelings that will surface, but I assure you there is not an imaginary neon light above your head flashing the letter “L” for LOSER.  That said, there may be a jerk in your life that simply makes you feel worse than you already do. Bottom line steer clear from people who do not bring substance and value to your situation and life. You need to find a way to pick yourself up and start taking steps to move forward.  Naysayers tend to make periods of unemployment worse. ACK! They really don't mean to. It is just part of their nature.

Two of the most common mistakes people often make when they get laid-off- People get “stuck in their mind with thinking” trying to figure out how they can maintain a life style they have grown accustomed to over many years.

Whether it is the top level managers and vice presidents, etc. within organizations, (Business owners too) or lower level managers, supervisors and front line employees. As the impact, of job loss shakes out within their worlds, most experience similar scenarios. Only the higher profile positions within small, intimate communities are more visible as they start losing material possessions and/or start disappearing from social gatherings. For the “upper echelon positions” it may be difficult to fathom how hard working, well educated, intelligent people can’t seem to grasp the difference between the monthly total of their weekly unemployment check versus the $25,000 - $250,000+ annual salary job that slipped away without any warning. As for the lower profile positions, their spiral downward is not so visible within the community, so we do not usually read about them on the front page of the newspaper. Trust me when I say these former employees are experiencing their own anguish.

No matter how you slice it or dice it, it is impossible to maintain a lifestyle of fancy cars, houses, extravagant possessions, dinner out every other night, kids in private schools, etc. on unemployment checks. The lifestyle must be adjusted.  You CAN NOT worry about how *you will look*.  People will always find something to talk about. Let it go. Easier said than done - I know - but a huge weight will be lifted off of your shoulders if you can let it go.  TRUST ME.  People become consumed with thoughts of how “they look in society” versus productively using their time and energy to rebuild their life. This is one way people end up losing everything and end up on the streets.

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My very personal closing comments; I have learned when God is a part of rebuilding a life or a comeback journey we create room within our being for a natural shift in thinking to take place. Priorities start to change as do other areas of our life for the better. Where possessions have been an anchor of many woes due to job loss or significant life changes, we find a way to no longer be held hostage by our material things. This allows life and decisions to become easier. The burden is reduced immediately!

In late 2010, I was graced with an opportunity to make decisions and changes that have changed my life, because I am no longer held hostage by material things. For reasons other than job loss, a health crises and family emergency forced me to get in my car and drive 2800 miles away from everything I owned. (I am currently working on a manuscript that describes this perfect storm that took place in my life.)  For life changing reasons one week became two weeks...  became three weeks and so on.  

SIDE NOTE:  I recognize that we all have unique circumstances that may require immediate life changes.  If you ever find yourself in a situation to leave your home for an extended period of time, remember to communicate with your post office and forward your mail (bills). Responsibilities never go away 

When I returned to my house nine months later, I was faced with some very difficult health and life decisions. I have been honest up to this point, so I won't stop here.  No matter how good our plan, the process I had to undertake to make life changing decisions was still very emotional and difficult for me. Even so, I want you to know that the material and emotional T.H.I.N.G.S. I thought were once important to me nine months before I walked out my front door had fallen to the back of my priority list. My "perfect storm" of sorts removed my emotional attachment to T.H.I.N.G. and led me to make some of the most liberating decisions in my life today.

When our perfect storm comes, and there are no visible shelters or easy detours, just walk through it. It's the only way to get to the other side.

Let me bring it back to what I see as root to the problems we create for ourselves today; so many of us allow ourselves to be anchored down by so much *stuff* that when change hits us right between the eyes, we sink versus swim or instinctively dog paddle to solid ground to save ourselves. I have offered some remarkable tools all practiced and used by me. All work if you take the time to help yourself. Think about it.  I wish you luck. You can do it!

 

 

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