I was 13 years old when my dad was laid off from his job. My dad worked for the same big oil and mining company for over 25 years. I remember in the months leading up to that day, he would come home and tell my mom, "Bob and Vern got packages today." That was the way layoffs were back in the '80s...you "got a package." My dad's package included a pension buy-out and severance pay. He was 48 years old.
It was a tense time for sure. My dad was the sole provider for our family. My parents had 3 teenagers to support, including one about to enter college.
Finding work proved to be difficult for my dad, as he had no experience with computers. My mom had a college degree, but hadn't worked in 18+ years. She decided to go back to school to learn computers and get some refresher courses. She re-entered the workforce at age 50. My dad was out of work for about a year, and finally got another job that didn't pay nearly the same as his old job.
My parents never talked to us kids about our money situation, and only recently I asked my mom how we survived that period. At the time my dad was laid off, my parents had no debt. No mortgage, no car loans, no debt. Period. They managed not to accumulate any debt during that period by living off my dad's severance, their savings and very careful budgeting. Looking back, I'm amazed that they made it through without going into debt.
We had always lived on a very small budget when I was a kid, but things were even tighter during this period. I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone. But, living through a layoff as a kid has made me want to be prepared as an adult for the same situation.
My husband and I have so far been lucky in the layoff department. Both of us have worked for companies through layoffs and were spared multiple times. But, that doesn't mean we are immune to layoffs in the future. And now that my husband is our main provider, it still makes us nervous that his company is about to announce some major layoffs next week.
I wish we were in as good a position as my parents were, but we're not. However, we're not totally unprepared. We've talked about how we would survive a layoff, and we have a layered plan to keep afloat. We've talked about what spending cuts we would make, things we could sell and ways to earn extra money. We have sworn off any new debt, even 0% debt. My husband keeps in touch with many of his old co-workers, so networking after a layoff would not be awkward.
Our "layoff preparation plan" is not perfect, but it has given me peace of mind to know that if it happens, we will get through it.
Have you been through a layoff? Do you feel prepared if you were to get laid off?