I wasn't expecting this severe an economic downturn in my own household so soon. We were coping with our current jobs and chipping away at our debt to the point that I could see it being gone within a few months. We had no idea my husbands hours would drop so severely. It really hit home recently when I put our checks in the bank. His was $37.00 for two weeks. Granted that will be the worst one since hours have picked up since those bad two weeks, but he is still scheduled for no more than twenty four hours.
I've gone in when others call out at work, so I've added a bit to my check. We have been super frugal in order to make ends meet. I bring lunches from home, and cook all of our meals from scratch. My husband doesn't need to bring a lunch as he is only scheduled for three hours a day. We do not go shopping much normally but now we don't go at all. Even groceries are really thought about now. I make sure the bills are payed before I buy juice and popcorn. Micro-frugality is practiced where I plan out each little expenditure.
We still enjoy one anothers company, read, and well we obviously still have all the American basics electricity, Internet, a car... We will survive. I'm glad we have these skills that enable us to live normally when our income has been so damaged. My husband was discouraged when he looked in the Sunday classifieds and there were no jobs. None that he qualified for anyway. Something will fall into place for us, it always does.
I was on the phone with a friend the other day who does make use of "the system" for medical reasons, plus she has children and honestly cannot work at this time. She asked me why I haven't applied for food stamps. I told her that my dad had gifted my husband and I with an IRA, plus I had a little savings. From my understanding you have to be rock bottom and have no savings at all. I once knew a woman who lost her job and became divorced and was very nearly homeless but was turned down because she had a newer vehicle. The social worker told her to sell her car (which she needed to find work!) and come back and reapply.
My friend seeing no other alternative said, "Can't you make that IRA disappear?" I gently explained to her that I'd rather be micro-frugal for a while until better opportunities show themselves. Programs are in place to help people who need it. The families that come to rely on assistance for generations must feel a sense of hopelessness and not see a way out of it. They may come to see it as a normal part of their permanent lives. I would turn to temporary help if needed, however, we're not there yet.