Unlike many of my slightly younger friends, I was lucky to have graduated from college a couple of years before The Great Recession.
Despite being relatively inexperienced and living in a new city without a professional network, I was able to find a full-time job almost immediately after completing a summer internship in Nashville.
I was working in the marketing department of a classical record label, and like many entertainment industry jobs, it was challenging. Armed with a newly earned degree in classical singing, I felt like I had landed my dream job while working to promote an unpopular — yet deeply important — genre of music.
Much to my horror, I was laid off a mere six months into the position, with only two weeks of severance pay. I remember the shame and humiliation I felt driving home from work that day, and worried about how to break the news to my friends and family back home.
It took a good friend to extract me from the depression-induced pile of dirty clothing and junk food wrappers that had accumulated around my bed after a couple of days.
He treated me to some fish and chips with a pint of beer at a local Irish pub and ordered that I stop feeling sorry for myself. Immediately. It was tough love, but I was ready to begin searching for a new gig by the end of that weekend.
I was fortunate to re-connect with a local temp agency, which eventually led to my next opportunity in the concert business. Despite being paid hourly as the company’s temporary receptionist, I’d often come in early or stay late to be certain that I had fully completed the projects that had been assigned to me. My hard work paid off and it wasn’t long until I was promoted.
Fast forward to three years later. I had just purchased my first home and benefitted from the government’s handsome $8,000 first time homebuyer’s tax credit. Another co-worker, who had just purchased a condo, asked me how I was planning to spend this generous infusion of cash. Brand new furniture, bathrooms renovations, or landscaping?
“I’m planning to save the entire thing,” I explained, pointing out that it would be immediately funneled into my emergency fund.
He sipped his whiskey disapprovingly and murmured something about how “no one’s job at our office was safer than mine.”
Regardless of how well I performed or how much my boss liked me, I knew from past experience that no position is ever guaranteed. Plus, it’s naive to blindly believe in any type of company loyalty.
I’ve protected myself from layoffs or burnouts by consistently living below my means, saving as much money as possible, and now, adding side hustles to further pad my income. I’m also focused on finding ways to generate passive streams of revenue.
Discovering that I am dispensable, at the age of twenty-two, was one of the most important lessons that I have ever learned, personally, professionally, and financially.
Readers: Have you ever lost a job? How has that affected your finances?