It’s no secret that it’s a huge mess out there. This health crisis has caused so much loss, both in life and security. My heart breaks for all those who have lost loved ones. We lost a very good friend, not from Coronavirus, but from not going to the hospital when an emergency surgery was needed because they feared contracting the virus. A ton of missteps by both health workers and the family members. But that’s not what this post is about.
I want to talk about the economic mess. Many people have been furloughed without pay, or let go completely from their jobs. Many small businesses have closed. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Stimulus checks won’t be enough, and the government can’t keep printing money. It will render cash worthless. A recession may soon follow if we all can’t get back to work. But we can’t go back too soon, or we will be right back to the health crisis. It’s definitely a conundrum.
My husband, fortunately, has kept his job so far, but we are aware that he could lose it. No job is safe, in my opinion.
So, we decided to play the ‘what if’ game. What if my husband lost his job tomorrow? What steps would we take?
This morning we sat down at the kitchen table and started listing in order what we would do if he were to be let go tomorrow.
- Apply for unemployment. It won’t cover anywhere near his normal paycheck, but it will be something. Virginia is in the top 10 for top balanced fiscal budgets and Virginians aren’t having a problem receiving it.
- Hoard money. Stop paying for gifts, subscriptions, clothing, personal spending, travel (obviously). Eat from pantry, freezer and fridge. No need to worry about credit cards, car loans — I’m debt-free.
- Look for another job. This may be difficult for several reasons. Timing and age. It’s not the best time to find a job, and our age would make it nearly impossible, however, our area has many more jobs than most, and I’m pretty confident that we both could get some type of work in our field. (We aren’t that old, but old enough. 😉
In a couple of months:
- Sell home (if not able to find employment). This area is very expensive, and real estate is ridiculously expensive. We have a very strong housing market, even during Covid-19. We would sell our present home and buy a much smaller one in a less expensive area outright. (No mortgage for us!) We already researched this, and there are three areas we would consider: Southern VA, North Carolina and Florida. We could possibly walk away with $230,000 in surplus.
- Sell one of our cars. If we decided to retire from paid employment, we would definitely not need to support two SUVs. This would save us almost $3,000 a year in expenses.
- Cash in my pension account. We would only do this once I turn 59 1/2, (which is one year from now) and only if it were necessary.
Down the road…..
- Take Social Security at 62. If my husband lost his job today (at 56), we would have to live off the proceeds of our cash savings and real estate surplus until we could tap into retirement plans at 59 1/2. That is 2.5 years. Our investments would grow to a nice sum, but we would only pull 3% out to make it last more than 30 years. This would create a small shortfall, so we would start social security at 62. We will have more than enough for one nice trip a year as well.
- Find part-time jobs. If we did move into a smaller home in a new area, we both would look for fun part-time jobs to supplement our time and income. (I have my eye on working at a golf-club – when they reopen, of course.)
Our current plan (before a lay-off):
- SAVE MORE MONEY IN CASH. We are fortunate to have some savings, equity in our home, and a good retirement portfolio. However, we do realize that we are a bit short on available cash and only have enough to see us through for 6 months. I would like to see that grow to at least 9 months to feel secure in a layoff situation.
Of course if my husband keeps his job, which I hope he will, we’ll have a different financial plan. It’s just nice to know what to do ahead of a crisis, instead of being blind-sighted by it.
Hope you are all doing well and staying safe.