Thursday, February 12, 2009

Susie's story: "On top of the world"

The strain of the economy can be felt throughout Charlotte. Our neighbors are losing jobs, or fretting that they might, or worrying about their dwindling incomes. They are all suffering - all feeling the squeeze. 

Yesterday, Laurie Reid wrote about how her comfortable Charlotte life was changed with her husband's layoff - and she showed how she is handling the loss of her household's income with humor and grace. She'll be back soon with more thoughtful entries, and we hope to hear from you, too. Retirees. College students. Tell us your stories of struggle or success.

Today we bring you Susie Kirsch, who has lived in Charlotte for a little more than two years with her husband, a daughter, and now a new baby girl.

Here's Susie's story:

My husband had a stable job, working for a Marketing Agency in Charlotte, and I work for a non-profit agency that does work with mentally ill individuals. When the news was breaking about the state of the economy, and the R word ... Recession, I guess we thought that it would never happen to us. We don't spend out of our means, we live in a modest house, we don't carry a massive amount of credit card debt, and we both are very hard workers.

A little over 5 weeks ago, I gave birth to our second daughter. We were on top of the world. We had just moved from a town home to a house in August 2008 to accommodate our growing family, and we had completed painting and minor improvements to make it just the way we wanted before the baby arrived. We didn't have any issues receiving financing, and we got a payment that was well within our means. Also, my fellow co-workers were very generous and donate some of their unused PTO so I could take paid maternity leave. I thought we were doing very well, and was excited to welcome our new baby stably into this world.

My husband took a week off of work right after the baby was born, and returned to work ready to start the new year. His annual performance review was scheduled for the next day, and he was excited to hear about his progress at the company. Before he left that day, he told me his review was at 10 a.m. and he would call me when it was over to tell me how it went. A few weeks prior, the president of the company stood up and told everyone that the company was doing well, I had no reason to think that he wouldn't get a raise. They were even giving out partial bonuses this year, which no one expected, so everyone thought that the company was in a great place!

When the phone rang at 10:13, I knew that something was not right.

His review could not have taken only 13 minutes. I answered the phone and just knew from the sound of his voice, they had laid him off. With a week-old baby in my arms, I began sobbing, and all of the worst thoughts started going through my head. Our new house - foreclosure? What about insurance - he carried all of our insurance? What are we going to do? How are we doing to pay bills? Feed our 2 kids?

Well, here we are a month later. He hasn't found a job yet and his last day is next Friday. Our new little angel has started having some minor medical issues, so now we have an even bigger financial burden. When will this end? When will good, honest, hard working people stop losing their jobs? I too fear for my job security, as the non-profit I work for is primarily government funded. What will we do if I get laid off? I just can't imagine.


Anonymous said...

I am a single working woman and I know how devastated I would be if I lost my job. Good luck to you and your family and keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. At least you are still employed. I would suggest cutting back on expenses (daycare) if you currently have of your kids there. Maybe your husband can take care of the kids while he interviews for a new role.
Good Luck! This is affecting everyone

Anonymous said...

Sad story. I was laid off in early 2002 and it took me over a year to find another job. Sorry to say, but I don't think this is anywhere near being over with. The problem is we have so much overcapicity and excess supply now that we have to wait for it to get cleared out before we can start expanding again. I think we are looking at 2-5 years before any real recovery starts. If anyone wants to get some insight as to what is going on, read the link below, but don't read it if you are easily scared or are already too depressed.

Anonymous said...

We've put off even having kids until this depression subsides. If it lasts too long we may not ever have kids. We couldn't bring another life into this world the way things are right now.

chupacabra said...

I hope the little one is doing better. I feel badly for your husband getting blind sided like that. Hopefully you can hang on to your job until he finds something.

I've been on both sides of this, the one laid off and the one who still had a job. I don't know which one is worse really. Hang in there, better days are coming.

Anonymous said...

We had our little girl just over 5 weeks ago as well and I also got let go then. It really pains me to see this happen to people when the banks, auto companies, and wall street get bailouts. I am still waiting to see what jobs they have yet to create with this stimulus package. I hope we all get jobs soon.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your husband's job hunt & your children. Hopefully, the baby will get well soon. However, you are lucky - you are young. 10 years ago, my husband lost his job; the emotional stress and ego crush was devistating for him as he was 57. In a good economy, it took him over 2 years to find a job. He was "too old," "too experienced," etc. I was working, just making enoug for food, gas, insurance and utilities, we went thru his 401K for mortgage payments & COBRA. We had 2 kids in college and 1 in high school. The high schooler got a job at a quick stop store a few hours 3 days/wk plus Saturday. I got a second job at the drycleaner after my regular 8 hr.job. Little pay but free drycleaning. When I got home about 11pm, I would type his cover letters, print out resumes, address envelopes, fax some, email some. Then make the next day's dinner, laundry, shower and bed. I got up at 6am each day. Clean up the house, drop the kid at school & go to work. College kids got loans, grants, they had scholorships for part of the tuition & got parttime jobs for incidentials like laundry. It took 2 yrs as I said, but we are ok now and, looking back, it did alot to make us a more cohesive and grateful family. Now, I have been out of work for almost 2 years w/nothing. In today's market, 60 somethings have it hard, not matter the degree or experience. Your husband will get a job. You just need to encourage him daily, if he says no response to applications, say, that company wasn't a great match anyway. You will probably have to move to another state or city, we did. It is the price of maintaining your family. Bless you.

NotAFreeMarket said...

I was laid off from a good paying job ($75,000 a year) due to outsourcing to India.

Lou Dobbs may be wacko on some subjects, but not outsourcing of US jobs. I did like the "experts" said - I had 3 months of emergency savings. That was not enough, especially if you have car and mortgage payments. I went from $75K to $11.00 an hour jobs. Terrible. I lost my car, and still am struggling to keep my house. I wish you the best. It IS tough out there!

Anonymous said...

My dear, bless your family. I too have a small child. I know how you feel when you think of your children at this economic stage. I hope your husband will find something decent to support the family during this time. It hurts us all.

Mzars25 said...

I feel much greater sympathy toward this woman than the one who was featured a couple of days ago. That woman was clueless and pampered. This one knows what it's like.

~ LMA said...

Susie, I am so sorry. I sympathize; this happened to us in 2002, when my husband was laid off in the post-9/11 fallout. My children were four and two at the time; the oldest one was receiving speech and occupational therapy at the time.

I'm rooting for all of you and have faith you'll come through this OK.

Anonymous said...

Our hope this not in this system of things which we know Satan is in control of. Store your treasures in heaven where your help cometh. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

I was laid off in 2002 and it took me 3 years to get back to work but I was bless to use my time off to study God's word which contains real hope for the future. Pray incessantly (without let up). Draw close to God and he will draw close to you.

Anonymous said...

I hope your baby is doing better. Please have faith, and do not let the present circumstances cloud the joy of having your new little one. These times will pass. Good luck and God bless you and your family.

kfc/Madame Freud said...

In most respects, Susie, you and your husband have done all the right within your means, no excessive credit card debt, manageable mortgage payment, probably have a bit of money in the bank....and, with a lot of faith, should make it through. The main thing is....Don't panic! Take a deep breath...and develop a new plan for action going forward.

One big plus...your husband should be eligible for Employment Insurance as he was laid off. If he receives a severance allowance, the trick will be to manage it effectively till the EI kicks in. Perhaps, his former employer will maintain his health plan for a period of time ( as I've read some do that).

Having raised six children on my own with very limited funds, I know how tough it is is always a challenge and faith comes in handy. Revise your budget, eliminate those food items you can easily do without, pay bills on time to prevent extra fees, park the vehicle if city transit is available, bring your lunch to work etc. etc. etc. Whatever you do, don't bring your fear to work; keep your work environment as free from stress as possible. You both have to find a way to destress...find something that works and focus on it.

Good luck! In the long run, remember, things are just things; keep your relationship tightly knit and your family happy, as much as possible. This, too, shall pass.