Monday, February 16, 2009

Portrait: Summerville, South Carolina

I called my husband one day a few weeks ago to ask him something random and he was already on his way home. It was 10 o clock in the morning. After 12 years with the same commercial building company, my husband has been laid off, he had come home to have a beer to help numb some of the shock.

He was one of the original employees of the company, only two other people had been there longer. He had been assured time and time again that the original group would always have a job. My husband loved his job, he was very dedicated and worked so hard to get where he was in his business.

Now the aftermath, we have a mortgage, a kid, and two car payments. The company used to pay my husbands truck payment, so now that is a large bill we have never had to pay before. They also used to pay for all of his gas. Our 10 month old daughter has some medical issues so health insurance is a must. So that adds to the ever growing list of bills we used to not have to pay. We immediately cut off the cable t.v., got rid of the land line, stopped eating out, etc. We are hording our money, hubby gets one more paycheck this week and a small severance check. I have picked up extra hours at work to try and help. I have a college degree that has done me no good and only make about 10 dollars an hour. I keep thinking every little bit counts, every little penny. We are constantly going over the bills and looking at the bank balance.

We live in a nice house and drive nice cars but have not been super frugal when it came to saving.We are in our early 30's so we still felt we had plenty of time to really save. We were doing well for people our age. We have the usual 401k , not that that is worth much these days, but our regular savings took a beating last year due to a change in health insurance before the baby came. Our deductible had gone from $1500 to $5600. Damn, looking back I wish I could have had the baby a few months earlier, would have been a 1/4 of the price. If we continue tightening our belt we can get by for about 6-8 months,we are not factoring in for unemployment benefits, they will probably not even be 1/2 of what our usual take home was. The stress is taking a toll on us. We are putting our house on the market. We don't need the weight of a house payment and we may have to move so we can find work. In this market we will be lucky if anyone even comes to look.

As bleak as things at our house look, we know that they could be worse. The fact that we can safely pay our bills for the next few months and not go hungry softens the blow a little. We are hopeful, we have to be, our little girl is depending on us.

Summerville, SC

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