HomeWorkYou're fired.

You’re fired.

So I’m assuming the majority of PDITF readers operate their lives around some type of budget. Maybe you are a budget nazi like this….

or perhaps you prefer the more casual/relaxed budgeting plan like myself…

It doesn’t really matter HOW you track your money, but simply that you ARE tracking your money. How you budget is up to you, but one thing everyone should do is at least have some type of plan. This means planning for unlikely events too.

So today I thought we could do just that and play the “What if” game. Are you in?

What would you do if you walked in to your office today and were told to go home because you were fired/laid off?

On the surface, the question may not appear that interesting, but when I started thinking about it more, I realized I’d be up a creek without a paddle. Sure my E-fund will help temper the financial strain for a few months, but eventually I’d have to start making some money.

Unfortunately, this is the major dilemma. To be perfectly honest, I highly doubt I’d be able to gain employment at a salary comparable to what I’m currently making. In fact, I don’t even know if I could find a job that paid me $10k or $20K a year less.

I suppose if I was an nurse or the like, I’d be able to rest easy knowing most hospitals are always hiring, but last time I checked “Special Agent experience” wasn’t a prerequisite on too many job descriptions.

Fortunately, my position is relatively secure so I shouldn’t have to worry about being let go, but I couldn’t help but think about how royally screwed I’d be if I was. Honestly, if I was let go, I’d probably be applying to entry level positions in the $35k-$40k/yr range; trying to work my way up the corporate ladder. And if six months down the road I was still unemployed, you better believe I’d be at the drive-thru asking you “Do you want fries with that?”

How ’bout you? Honestly think about your skillset and the job market in your area. If you were to be fired today, do you think you could find a comparable salary elsewhere reasonably fast? How long do you think it would take? If you answered yes, what field are you in? If you answered no, like me, how much of an income cut do you think you’d be looking at taking?

Hopefully we never find ourselves in this situation, but it never hurts to prepare for the worst.



  1. I wish I could give detailed information, but I need to be a tad bit more anonymous than I already am 🙂 On that note, my job is labor intensive and does not require any education but does require commen sense, which most people tend to take for granted. So many people lack common sense for some reason. To find another job in Las Vegas would be real tough because it’s all about “juice” which I have a limited amount. Anyhow, the difference between what I make now and an “entry” level job would not be as great as yours. Still it would suck really bad if I lost my job because I’m so used to that level of income. Also the health insurance I get is priceless. This is probably why I tend to have such a large efund because I’m paranoid about such things.

  2. If I were to lose my job today and stayed in the same field (Customer Service), I’m not so much worried about finding a new job in this field, but I know I’d take a pay-cut of about 10-15K if it happened. Plus, I’d have to be prepared for losing various “perks” (Pension Plan, RSP contribution, profit sharing, etc.), and my 7 minute commute would likely be longer. I certainly wouldn’t be above taking an entry-level full-time job and supplementing the lower income with a part-time job… gotta do what you gotta do to keep your head above water. The one advantage that I do have is I’m fluently bilingual in French and English… that has helped get me practically every job I’ve applied for since leaving college over 20 years ago..

  3. My job is relatively secure, so this isn’t something I’m concerned about, but honestly, I think I’d be pretty OK. If, for argument’s sake, I got fired today, the first thing I’d do would be to email all my friends at various magazines and newspapers (I’m a journalist/editor) to see if they knew of anyone that was hiring. In an ideal world, I’d move right into another job, but more realistically, the second set of emails would be to a bunch of editor friends that I know are not hiring, but could hopefully pass me some freelance work. Between my emergency fund and any freelance income I was able to bring in, I could last a while, and I’m relatively confident I could find a new job of comparable salary within a couple of months. Absolute worst case scenario would see me taking a job in PR or Communications, because those fields pay really well (better than I am paid now, for sure) and are usually hungry for people with a journalistic background.

  4. I’d really be in a bind. We hate the city we’re in, but we’re here because of my job (until we get shipped out again- hopefully next year). We’re lucky that hubby found an amazing job he likes here. So I’d be wanting to get the he double hockey sticks out of here to strt again, but we’d have the safety net of hubby’s income.

    Way to be depressing on a Monday morning!

  5. An uncomfortable question – not because I fear being fired, but rather working for a non-profit agency means that unceremonious organizational closures are always a very real threat. You would think that being a wise soul, I would have known that BEFORE I took the job AND that I would be financially prepared for it. Ummm, nope. At least I am better prepared now since digging out of $26K in debt earlier this year (YAY!), but still not prepared enough. First thing would be to contact the bank, explain what happened, what I will be doing and work through some scenarios for mortgage payments. Then I’d call (using Skype for no cost) every single person I know in this business in the country and see what jobs they know of, if anyone is hiring, what the demand is for part-time or even consulting work. Until I secured another position in my field I would be squeezing every penny I have in my EF, finding any type of work I can until something in my profession came up. I know it would necessitate moving again, so I’d also be getting my house market ready to sell…not pleasant thoughts at all. What a way to start my week………..

  6. Well, I’m hoping at my level I’d get about 6 months of severance. That’s about the norm. In fact once my employer is fully acquired next month, I might just be in this situation. I’ve already revved up my networking in hopes of finding a better job, but if that doesn’t work out and the entrepreneurial bug doesn’t bite, I can probably call up my friends at 1 or 2 other companies and get in the door pretty easily. However, it might be at a 10-15% discount to my current salary. Or, perhaps with Mrs. Slug returning to the workforce after 5 years, I’ll just sit at home eating bon bons all day.

  7. If that happened to me I would send out my resume, but look for a non-professional job like a the grocers or something just so I have some income, and can work some hours that’s not 9-5.
    At the same time, no matter where I had been working or for how long, I always have an updated resume or 2. Every year or so, update it so you can remember all the important things I have done. As well, I always keep an eye out on other opportunities out there, even though I like my current job. I would also call my family and friends as well as other professional colleagues to look for opportunities. This is what networking is for, remember? Something like this could be a good thing. Maybe it’s an opportunity to try something new.

  8. Well, I am a nurse who works for a non-profit and I am being laid off at the end of October. Our program is closing. I don’t have hospital experience so basically no hospitals want to hire me…but I have great experience in the world of nursing/social services. I’m currently going on my sixth interview in about 1 month of job hunting. Not too shabby for a down economy 🙂 I’ve had a few offers, but nothing I wanted.

    So basically, my back-up plan is to keep job hunting until I find something I really want, and if I don’t find that…I’ll take one of the many jobs available at rehabs/nursing homes until I do find it.

  9. If I were to walk in today and lose my job I wouldn’t immediately apply to work at another university. I have a few connections in town, so I believe that I could find work. The only problem is the hiring process takes about a month, so I would need to dip into my e-Fund to cover me for a month or so. I am not sure if I would be able to find a job in the same salary range. I could always fall back on my initial job out of college, and that was serving tables at a restaurant. That might help me supplement my income with a intro position at another university.

    All in all, my life would be a little less convenient as it is now, but I would be able to get by.

  10. “Fired” would mean being kicked out of my grad program (as they’re now paying me for my services as a graduate student). Honestly? Not a terribly big deal (other than not pursuing my PhD, which would be kind of a bummer). When I was still up in the air about whether I’d get into the program, I was sending out, on average, nine resumes a week. In a month’s time, I had a few call backs that I eventually had to turn down because I got in the program. I have a 6-8 month emergency fund, so the odds as they stand now aren’t terribly daunting.

    I have a background in teaching, so I could do anything from tutor to sub to eventually get certified in this state and actually teach. I also now have NPO experience, so I could work in a number of facets for one of the many in my city. And, like Ninja, if it came down to it I’m definitely NOT above asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

  11. I’ve thought about this already. If I did lose my job the first thing I would do is go straight and get one of those almost always available positions like gas pump attendant or some position in kfc or a security guard. Where I live these are almost always hiring. Once I have some sort of income. I would scale back my living to match and work out a plan.

  12. My first step would be to go back to all the companies that offered me jobs out of college that I declined. If they wanted me then, I figure they might want me now.

    If that doesn’t work, I have a feeling I could find something. Worst case scenario, I’d probably just go back to school and get an MBA. Oh, and I’d go to a crappy school where I get a full scholarship and just ride out the next three years without any living expenses.

  13. Since I’ve already had to live this, not once but twice in the last 4 years, I’m pretty well versed in exactly how to handle it. First time, we moved for my husband’s career so I had to leave my job, it took 9 months to find something decent paying in DC, but we survived by living cheap on my husband’s income and the money his parents gave us to pay down student loans. Sadly, none of that money made it to the loans, but we made it through without missing any payments on anything. Second time was 6 months after I got my first job here in DC, I was laid off due to “restructuring”. We had a bit in savings and from my miniscule severence pay that got us through for 4 months until I could claim unemployment (long story), then unemployment kept us going until I got my current job.

    If I lost my current job, which seems unlikely since they love me and the company seems to be doing well. The first thing to go would be one of the cars. In the past, we had no car payments, now we have 2 and could not afford them both if I lost my job. I’d have to take a slight pay cut, but since I now have some additional marketable skills, I’d be looking in the rather small field I’m in now and trying to find something new.

  14. I think I would be able to get another job in my field fairly easily…and it might actually come as a relief because I am not a huge fan of what I am doing right now….I think I am missing the point.

    The good thing is that I picked a job in a field that always had demand (I am an accountant, and am currently working on my designation)….plus I do not think anyone could pay me less that what I am making now.

  15. If I were fired, I would leave the USA for Costa Rica/Nicaragua for a year and relax…at 1/4 of the cost of the USA. Then, I’d come back, with a better mindset, and get back to work. Of course, I’d continue to keep in touch with all my business contacts.

  16. The last two times I’ve put myself on the job market I’ve had offers in hand within a week.

    I’m not worried. 🙂

  17. I’m lucky that my skill set is very transferable so I believe that I would be able to find secure employment within a few months. Jordan and I are also in very different industries so that helps protect us from duel job loss.

    That said – the first thing I would do is stop spending all unnecessary cash, apply for EI, brush up my resume and get looking!

  18. There’s no way I could touch what I make now right away. I would end up in something paying 1/3 to 1/2 what I currently make and work my way up again. Thankfully, I have savings to get me through and working up the employer’s internal ladder shouldn’t be too difficult, just a lot of common sense, hard work and flexibility. Would I miss my current job, heck yes, but it just means my life needs to take a different route.

  19. The wife and I both work, and we’re spending less than half of what we earn, so it wouldn’t cause us financial hardship unless we both lost our jobs simultaneously. And even then, it would be less of a catastrophe and more of an inconvenience because of the progress we’ve made over the past 5 years in improving our financial situation.

    Paying off the mortgage made a HUGE difference in our ability to survive a cut in our income. We no longer have a large monthly housing obligation to pay. Our remaining “mandatory” bills (insurance, taxes, utilities) could be managed for quite a long stretch using our existing emergency funds, and the discretionary spending could be cut back to a minimum (cancel all vacations, axe entertainment spending, buy boring groceries).

    Our medium-term goal is to save up enough so that one of us could voluntarily quit full-time employment in the next 5-10 years anyway, so ideally we could time this when one of our employers was looking to lay people off anyway. That way we’d get severance on top of what we already wanted — to be rid of a full-time job.

  20. This Spring I was RIFed, rescinded, displaced and have a new assignment. I am a teacher in Los Angeles. Add the fact that I only taught for ten years so I did not earn enough of a pension. I have been out of the business world for 10 years and I turn 65 this year. I would be hard core unemployable. I am better prepared than most, but I want to work. Luckily, I have a new assignment.

  21. This happened to me. If I could find a job in the 35-40k range, I would gladly take it, but entry level in my area is SO MUCH LOWER than this. In the meantime, I needed to find something to do, so I’m doing freelance marketing work, so if anyone knows someone in need of writing/editing/marketing services …

  22. We would be up a creek.
    We could both find work eventually, but the stress level the day of losing a job would be monumental. My heart goes out to anyone who has been in that situation:(

  23. My job is very secure. However it’s a question we should all think about! If I were laid off and eligible for unemployment, I could get by as long as UI lasted. If I were fired or otherwise not eligible for unemployment, I would have enough in my efund to get by for 4-5 months. I could either: a) look for a job in my field anywhere in the country – I would probably land something but it would come with a pay cut and the high chance of living someplace undesirable b) move back to the city I used to live in, where I know a lot of people. If I got into inexpensive housing I could get by for about 8 months, and could likely find some sort of job there, though it would pay less than my current situation. I would probably pursue plan b.

  24. The irony is that I can’t get a mortgage because according to the bank being unemployed is too “unstable.” However, I don’t have to worry about this problem as much as people who work for others. I’m a wedding photographer. I currently also make an additional side income off my blog. I’m working on writing a book so someday I’ll have that as a third income stream.

    The thing is, if business ever starts to go badly, for the most part, I have the control in my hands. I can say, “Hmmm, not booking as much this year, I should lower my prices.” Or I can take out advertising, or I can start harassing all my contacts on FB and Twitter to pimp me out to their friends. I can call my photographer friends crying. Really, I have a million options, if my income starts going down. And it would gradually go down anyways, so I’d have time to react. Unless I accidentally stab myself in both eyeballs with a work, I’d never go from 70k to zero in a month.

  25. If something were to happen to my job today. My first step would be go back to waiting tables until I could find something that I loved. I love my job but I am a bit under market value. I probably fairly easily could find a similiar position with similiar salary but it would not be in the industry that I currently work in. I would wait tables until I could be in the industry and the position that I wanted to be in.

    On a side note, if I got the right serving job I probably wouldn’t take that big of a pay cut. That is great news for me if something happened to my job and very depressing for me to think about right now. As I said earlier I love my job so salary is not the end result for me.

  26. That happened to me. I walked in one day and was laid off by lunch. Funny thing was, I had my evaluation just a week prior and had inquired to the PRESIDENT of the company regarding the security of my position, and no clue was given at all. I had no emergency fund, no back up plan, a recent car accident, an upcoming move, and a looming wedding. It was a very hard time. It’s still not back to normal. 8 months later and still unemployed. I’m now pursuing freelancing / entrepreneurship, but it’s still difficult. EVERYBODY READING, PLEASE PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME.

  27. That might give me the push to go back to journalism from PR and from a nice paycheck to an average paycheck.

  28. I think I’m fairly employable but I’ve been in the workforce for 15 years and I’ve worked in a variety of functions, so my resume reads very well. I doubt that I’d get paid as well though. I’d most likely have to take a $20K/year or more paycut to do the same position. I talk to headhunters a lot as a type of insurance policy. I give them names all the time and they call me often about positions. It’s good to know what the “market rate” of your job is as well as helping out someone who’s help you may need down the road.

  29. I’ll be 63 in 3 weeks, and it’s highly unlikely that I could find another position paying me what I make now. Since I’m in good standing at my present job, it’s just a matter of hanging on another 2-4 years until retirement. Yes, I could retire now, but it makes more sense to keep saving for a few more years, not collect SS until full retirement age of 66, and remain on my employer’s health plan until Medicare at age 65.

    But if I had to retire now, I’d probably be OK. Since I’m a professional writer and editor, the first thing I’d do, however, would be to advertise at the local colleges and universities to help students with their dissertations, other college papers, graduate applications, etc. I was thinking of getting a job at Borders, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now.

  30. I don’t think I would get a job that pays me what I am currently making, if unemployment was to come a knocking right now. But my life is set up in such a way that I could survive on much less. My debt repayment and retirement savings would suffer but I would not starve or be homeless.

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