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poor economy hitting close to home
Old 07-01-2009, 07:04 AM   #1
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poor economy hitting close to home

A few days ago a received a letter from my company saying that some changes in payments from Medicare have impacted the bottom line (I work in healthcare) and that they need to implement cost savings measures. The changes include delaying when new employees can accrue time off and begin participating in benefits plans. Another change is they will be reducing the match to 25 cents on the dollar for 401K contributions. I thought our company was pretty recession-proof, so this was a little wake-up call.

Then, yesterday, my brother called me to tell me he was laid off. He works in the trucking business. His wife was laid off last year in May and has yet to find a job. Her unemployment runs out in July. My brother gets 2 months severance and company pd Cobra; after that the company will pay a portion of Cobra for a while. He will also be on unemployment. He said he was going to wait a few days to let it all sink in, and then wants to talk to me about whether to touch his 401k or not. He doesn't have an emergency fund. The 401K isn't huge (around $30K). It is so difficult to see him in this situation, and I can't help but feel guilty for having our financial situation be so much better and secure. <sigh> I know it's not my fault, but it's just so hard to see him struggling. He's a good guy, and I love him.

I don't really have any questions for the group, yet, but I may as I help him problem solve how to manage this situation. Right now, I'm just doing a little venting!
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(49, married; DH 53. I am fully retired as of 2015 (well ok, I still work part-time but only because I love the job and have complete freedom to call off if I want to travel with hubby for work), DH hopes to fully retire 2018 when he turns 55 to access 401K penalty-free...although he may decide to do part-time consulting)
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:26 AM   #2
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You said he "works in the trucking business" - does that mean he's a truck driver? If so, and if he's willing to move, trucking companies are always advertising around here that they need drivers. It's not an easy life but it does pay about $50k/year, more for the long-haul drivers.

Some people enjoy long-distance driving as they see it as "the company is paying me to tour the country!"
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:04 AM   #3
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You said he "works in the trucking business" - does that mean he's a truck driver? If so, and if he's willing to move, trucking companies are always advertising around here that they need drivers. It's not an easy life but it does pay about $50k/year, more for the long-haul drivers.

Some people enjoy long-distance driving as they see it as "the company is paying me to tour the country!"

No, he was a terminal manager for a trucking company. Pretty specific area to work in, and no other opportunities in the area where he lives (rural).
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(49, married; DH 53. I am fully retired as of 2015 (well ok, I still work part-time but only because I love the job and have complete freedom to call off if I want to travel with hubby for work), DH hopes to fully retire 2018 when he turns 55 to access 401K penalty-free...although he may decide to do part-time consulting)
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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If he is willing to relocate, there are places in the country where the job prospect is better. For example, Omaha has an umployment rate of 4%, if I remember correctly. Recently, I read of another place where unemployment was below 4% and some businesses had problems filling jobs. I am racking my brain to recall where that was.
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:16 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear about that... but do not rack your brain about your brother to much... part of being a responsible adult IMO (and you might not like this) is to anticipate losing a job...

Now, with his wife losing her's, maybe he did have a reserve and has gone through it...

He is better off than most.... having his COBRA paid for is a big benefit...

Hope he finds something soon, but as others have said, he might have to move...
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:35 AM   #6
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Though I could not find the info that I read earlier, here's a list of places where businesses are hiring. No.1 is Anchorage!

The Best Places to Start Over: Where the Jobs Are - BusinessWeek
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:36 AM   #7
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Though I could not find the info that I read earlier, here's a list of places where businesses are hiring. No.1 is Anchorage!
Or "Los Anchorage," as Alaskans outside of the city often call it...
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:42 AM   #8
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I'm sorry to hear about your brother . A week does not go by that I do not hear about someone else having their benefits cut or being laid off .
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:50 AM   #9
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If he is willing to relocate, there are places in the country where the job prospect is better. For example, Omaha has an umployment rate of 4%, if I remember correctly. Recently, I read of another place where unemployment was below 4% and some businesses had problems filling jobs. I am racking my brain to recall where that was.
A good number of those earning above median wage find it necessary to move to get another job or a higher paying job. It's a fact of life, at least in some occupations that influence my perception of the world.

If we did not have to move in situations like this, it would be easier to approach retirement with a bigger nestegg. To me, the question would not be IF he would move, it would be WHERE he would move to. I am so sorry to hear that he has lost his job, but I would urge him to expand his search geographically if he is having trouble getting another job in your location.

When I first started looking for my present job, my first choice location among big cities would have been Houston. The job was in New Orleans, though, so here I am.

In retirement, there is great freedom of choice concerning where one lives. The idea is mind-boggling.
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:10 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear about that... but do not rack your brain about your brother to much... part of being a responsible adult IMO (and you might not like this) is to anticipate losing a job...
No, I don't mind you saying that. I know it's the truth...I have to control myself from trying to save everyone...a little flaw in my personality!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
Though I could not find the info that I read earlier, here's a list of places where businesses are hiring. No.1 is Anchorage!

The Best Places to Start Over: Where the Jobs Are - BusinessWeek

That is very interesting! He is very entrenched where he lives, but I agree, he needs to do whatever it takes to pull out of this. I will certainly be discussing that with him.

Thanks everyone for the support.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:01 PM   #11
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It's never easy dealing with issues happening to family members. No matter how they got there, or if there choices are good or bad in our minds, it doesn't stop us wanting to help them get themselves out of their mess.

Hope things work out ok for your brother.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:03 PM   #12
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Bleh...sorry to hear about your brother's situation.

DH had to give the pink slip to so many people before he left his job that we almost became numb to this fact. But, when it's a family member...you can't make the lousy feeling go away. Hopefully he'll find another job soon. Try not to worry too much......
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:13 PM   #13
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DH had to give the pink slip to so many people before he left his job that we almost became numb to this fact.
This is one reason among several why I NEVER want to be in management. I'm very content with my current position on the corporate ladder (to the extent I have to be on it) -- the highest rung below manager. That's the ideal spot for me.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:35 PM   #14
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This is one reason among several why I NEVER want to be in management. I'm very content with my current position on the corporate ladder (to the extent I have to be on it) -- the highest rung below manager. That's the ideal spot for me.
Yeah...the last year of his employment was really bad. I had my doubts about him sticking it out; but the pension and benefits kept him going. Thank heavens it's all over with. I don't ever want to have to go through something like that again.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:44 PM   #15
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You're right about health care no longer being economically immune. We are undergoing forfeitures of bonuses, hiring freezes, and other measures that reach right into your wallet. The workload grows and the ranks get thinner = work harder and longer for less money. Just like any other sector except that we can't (and shouldn't) turn anyone away including the uninsured.

I'm not one to wish time away, but in some ways I am glad I'm 60 and not 40 from a career perspective. Things will get much worse before/if they get better.
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:04 PM   #16
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I read an article recently about helping recently unemployed friends and family - invite them for dinner (don't make it too elaborate - you don't want them saying, "what are we celebrating?"), offer to babysit or dog walk, offer your networking contacts...
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Old 07-01-2009, 04:26 PM   #17
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Most unfortunate is the "double whammy" of both spouses losing their job.

I can name over 50 people I know unemployed / underemployed - just about every one of them has a working spouse - so their immediate lifestyle hasn't visibly changed.

No sense discussing/debating whether or not they should have had a reserve. What matters is immediate cost control and both of them scrambling for work. $30k can be easily burned through in months, not years.
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Old 07-02-2009, 02:32 PM   #18
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I can name over 50 people I know unemployed / underemployed - just about every one of them has a working spouse - so their immediate lifestyle hasn't visibly changed.
That happened to us once when DW was "downsized". A very depressing time for her until she found another job, for a girl who had been working since she started babysitting at ~13 years old.
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:06 PM   #19
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Your heart just has to go out to any one that wants to work and loses their job. When it is your family you can't not feel very sad and if you are doing ok then the odds are that you are going to have "survivor guilt". Your Brother is very lucky to have a loving and considerate Sister who genuinely cares about him.
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Old 07-03-2009, 06:53 AM   #20
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My younger sister (49) was laid off in April 2008 and has not been able to find a job in her field (graphic artist). She is/was close to the edge like your brother and I want to save her like you do your brother. I think I helped too much in the beginning. She finally found a state (WA) program where she could go back to school to update her skills which had gotten rusty while working for her previous employer (lesson there). The state covers her tuition and doesn't cut off her unemployment for being unavailable to work.

I love her very much and it's hard to see her go through this. I live in terror of a medical issue coming up because she has no health insurance. I try to help out by taking care of little stuff like adding minutes to her cell phone or sending food packages. Omaha Steaks has had some crazy sales this summer. I just want it to be all better for her ASAP!
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