Author Topic: For those who have survived unemployment  (Read 2268 times)

EconDiva

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For those who have survived unemployment
« on: October 03, 2017, 09:08:44 AM »
I would like to hear the stories of those who have been unemployed before (ideally for at least 3 months).  I'd especially like to hear from those that didn't have another income coming into the household (such as from a spouse).

-How long were you unemployed?
-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)? 
-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?  If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this. 

Caoineag

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2017, 09:53:35 AM »
1. Laid off in the beginning of the year (during the Great Recession) and wasn't hired on until late fall so I think about 9 months. Was married but at the time was trying to pay down debt so not ideal time for it.
2. No stache when it happened.
3. I was generously offered some severance and I was able to draw unemployment.
4. I worked for temp agencies during my unemployment. In my state you can extend benefits out if you work so I tried to work as much as possible. I still had 3 months of unemployment left when I was hired on.
5. Not that hard to get through because I was willing to accept low pay from the temp agencies, I am extremely skilled and hard working and made a good impression on everyone I worked for no matter how small the job. Because of this, the temp agency I worked for would always call me before anyone else because they knew I wasn't too picky and would do a good job. I have always kept my monthly expenses low so that I could survive and I worked in a metro area known for its low unemployment even during the Great Recession.
6. I took about a 10k haircut on salary. Fortunately, that was just to get my foot in the door. Later on they gave me very large pay raises which got me back on track. During my unemployment it was about the same so I spent about 1 year at a lower wage and then I was caught up.

ditheca

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2017, 09:59:50 AM »
Hope my story helps. I had a brief 5-6 month experiment with unemployment.  Didn't care for it.

I got married and landed my bachelor's at 23, and worked my way up from $25k to $48k as a "self employed contractor" for a tiny startup IT company with no employees.  Yes, we legally should have been an employees, but didn't know that and the company couldn't have afforded it anyways.  Every time they had trouble making payroll on time, I demanded more money to not walk away.  Pretty effective!  Also obviously unsustainable.

After a year or so, the company went belly-up and I was out of my (irregular) paycheck. They offered me $60k to stick it out, with no guarantee that I'd ever actually collect.  Thanks, but no.

DW was very pregnant at the time, so I talked us out of our lease and we moved into the in-laws basement.  I had about $4000 saved and only school debt at the time.  No unemployment available since I'd been illegally classified as a contractor, and the startup had no assets to justify legal action.  DW had very briefly worked entry level at HR Block, but dropped out to go to school.  Then she dropped out of school because of pregnancy complications.  She wasn't going to be any help with finances!

I spent about $1000 remodeling the basement at the in-laws place, mostly ripping out the ancient carpet that was full of cat and dog excrement to make the basement into a clean living space. I insisted on paying rent.  Initially it was $500 and included meals.  Quickly cut back to $350 but we handled our own meals and groceries separately.  We had practically no other expenses, an internet connection has always been adequate entertainment for us.

I felt like garbage.  I'd spent my whole life preparing to be an adult and provide for a family, and in my mind I'd already failed spectacularly.  I spent 3-8 hours a day job hunting, usually closer to 6.  Mostly online.  Few interviews, no offers.

Eventually, I reached directly out to a small business where I knew a few of the managers.  Big brother had worked there briefly as an intern.  I asked them to consider hiring me to a temporarily intern position while I continued my job search.  I was grossly overqualified, but thought it would be a win-win.  To my surprise, they created a full-time position for me instead.  I still feel like I let them low-ball me in the salary negotiations due to the circumstances.  I was hired at 45k with full benefits. I proved my value and have since negotiated my compensation to where I feel comfortable.  Ten years later, I still work for them, and currently plan to stay until FIRE.

We moved out of the basement pretty quickly after I had a stable paycheck.

I had a lot in my favor.  Family nearby, negligible debt, a respectable stash for a young family, and some connections in the area that eventually got me a job.  I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if I hadn't had a support network and my small stash.

Now my net worth is high enough that I could survive about eight years of unemployment, although such a dramatic sabbatical would obviously ruin the early retirement plans.  A few months of unemployment wouldn't hurt much these days.  I've experimented with freelancing after hours and I know how to run a business.  I'm confident I can easily pull in some income if I found myself without a regular paycheck.  DW is also in better health these days, and could also find work if she needed to.  She is back in school and nearing completion of her long-delayed bachelors.

marielle

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2017, 10:01:39 AM »
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bacchi

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2017, 11:31:49 AM »
I would like to hear the stories of those who have been unemployed before (ideally for at least 3 months).  I'd especially like to hear from those that didn't have another income coming into the household (such as from a spouse).

-How long were you unemployed?
-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)? 
-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?  If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.

1) About a year, right after the dotbomb crash. It was early in my career but because VC money was being tossed around...

2) ...I did have savings, from outrageous salaries and sign on bonuses.

3) No unemployment but I should've filed. I just didn't know I could.

4) Nothing...

5) ...and this is important. When the entire economy sucks, there's none of this "I'll just work at McDonald's for some extra money." I sent out a thousand resumes and even started removing schooling because min-wage jobs won't hire someone with an engineering degree. I got a handful of callbacks. Friends took voluntary pay cuts in order to preserve their tech jobs.

It took years to get back to the same salary but that's because startup salaries were overly inflated and companies have leverage over the long-term unemployed.

On the bright side, I eventually gave up looking for a job and used some of my cash to travel. When I returned home, the economy had improved.

Linea_Norway

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2017, 12:17:08 PM »
As a study, I choose one where the students went to university for two years fulltime. The next three years the students were at university 1 day a week and had to do relevant work 4 days a week.

I did have some relevant projects during those three years, but it was difficult to find something at a point. As we studied only one day a week we did not receive full government compensation like fulltime students did. So my internships had to pay me a reasonable sum to be able to live on my own. I also had a parttime job in the evenings and weekends to make things meet.

I have in that period been unemployed for three months or so. I was at that time living with my future husband. I did get some unemployment money, as well as some small student money and still my parttime job where I worked some more hours. I found a new sortof relevant job by applying at temp offices. I was hired as a temp at a software company, but got a fulltime contract and programming course together with a bunch of newly hired programmers. From then on I haven't been unemployed.

mlejw6

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2017, 01:08:42 PM »
I was unemployed for many months, almost years. I got laid off during the recession. October 2008. The industry I was in was hit hard enough that I was unable to find any work within hundreds of miles. However, I was taking classes at the local community college, so I decided to go to school full time. I had savings, but I also took out student loans to live on, and took unemployment. I got it for the maximum allowed time, which had already been extended because of the recession. Maybe 18 months? I can't remember.

For two months, I traveled to Mississippi to help rebuild after Katrina. I got a small stipend while there, and free housing.

When I returned home, I continued classes and stayed at a friend's house who was moving and whose house was for sale. When that sold, I realized I needed any job I could get to afford a small studio apartment. I got a job making $5/hr less than the job I was laid off from. This was December 2009.

That job lasted almost two years. I decided to go to grad school because I couldn't find anything better. I entered grad school in fall 2011, graduated spring 2013, and finally got a salaried position with benefits paying more than I'd ever made in my life.

Four years later, I finally feel like my days of student poverty are behind me. However, my savings are still playing catch up from all the missed income, low paying jobs, and the student debt I incurred. It will be a few more years until I feel that I have finally caught up to where I should have been. Finding MMM has made this possible.


justchristine

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 02:12:36 PM »
I would like to hear the stories of those who have been unemployed before (ideally for at least 3 months).  I'd especially like to hear from those that didn't have another income coming into the household (such as from a spouse).

-How long were you unemployed?
-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)? 
-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?  If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.

I was laid off from my first real job out of college and it took me about 6 months to find another job.  I was single, lived alone and had to live on my unemployment check the whole time.    The layoff wasn't a complete surprise so I had a couple months lead time to build up a little bit of savings(less than $10k if I remember correctly) but I never dipped into it.  I think my biggest lesson from the whole thing was to keep my core expenses low.  For years after that I tried to keep my bare bones budget at a level that could be sustained by unemployment checks.  This was also my main motivator for quickly paying off my student loans and increasing my investments.  Having lived through all that uncertainty, my brain equates the size of my stache with my level of security. 

BlueMR2

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2017, 04:05:43 PM »
I've been unemployed multiple times.  Usually only a month or 2, but 4 months one time.

It was pre-mustache, but I always had money set aside.  I considered myself frugal at the time (looking back though...).

Never collected unemployment.  They offered so little it wasn't even worth having to drive all the way across town to get hassled for hours on end by the unemployment office.

Occasionally I'd pick up a weekend doing some roofing or some other manual labor.  Sometimes I'd get 2-3 day temp jobs in maintenance departments.  I'm a computer guy, but don't mind real work too.

Salary changes, one time in memory I went UP by 50% when I found my next job.  Another time my next job was a 60% pay cut...

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2017, 04:22:51 PM »
Unemployed for nearly a year after being made redundant for the second time running! No such thing as redundancy payout in this country.

- Nearly a year
- Had a 'stache, and ended up using some of it
- Got some unemployment, enough to pay the most basic of bills
- I bought and sold second hand clothing, could make a few hundred a week doing this. 
- This was a really difficult time and I found that no one really understood. People would tell me about the time they were unemployed in their 20s while travelling or at university or something. Well, it's a hell of a lot different being unemployed at 40, let me tell you. It eats at your self worth in a big way. I started applying for less and less suitable jobs, like in fast food for example, and that meant that I was less and less likely to get employment. McDonalds does not want to hire and train post graduate qualified people that will leave as soon as something better comes up! Eventually found a job that was not as it was described at all, working for a truly horrible outfit. I was there a month. Then found the job I'm in now. I'm overqualified and very under paid but it's taken me 3 years to get back on my feet and gain enough confidence to say that I should be applying for better jobs! I make half what I did before I was made redundant.

Things that worked in my favour - I've had bad luck with jobs. I've been made redundant 3 times in my life. I've had job situations destroyed by fire and by a huge quake. I learned a long time ago to keep ongoing expenses to a minimum. For example, I don't buy contact lenses monthly. Instead I paid upfront for permanent contact lenses and glasses. I buy groceries in a stockpile sort of way - stock up on basics when they're on special. I haven't had a home phone in a decade, because I have a cell. I don't pay anything on subscription, and I don't buy on plans. The number of companies I deal with that require an ongoing payment I could literally count on one hand.

Unemployment is not fun, and the older you get, the less fun it is. Somehow the expectations are different. Being an unemployed recent grad or youngster is socially acceptable and a phase that most of us went through to one degree or another. Being unemployed and older is not acceptable. There's something wrong with you. You now lack even the ability to answer the 'what do you do?' question when you meet people! You're always hiding just a bit of what's going on. You get judged, and you judge yourself. You get asked stupid questions like 'what do you want to do?'. That's soooo irrelevant. You can only apply for the jobs that exist, really. Of course you send out millions of cold call CVs, but it's a waste of time, generally.

Dezrah

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 05:13:50 PM »
-How long were you unemployed?
There have been two gaps in our marriage where neither DH nor I had a job.  Give or take a few weeks of employment/schooling on the ends, these gaps were about seven months each.  We had no source of income during this time.

-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
We have always been cash hoarders and have a tendency to be more cheap than frugal.  During the first stint, we lived off the cash we had built up.  We were more savvy by the second stint and had a dedicated emergency fund.  Both times we were able to find work before the pile depleted.

-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
No.  We quit our jobs, so I don't think we were eligible to receive this.  However, I encourage everyone I know to explore all their options without shame or embarrassment.

-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)?
We didn't.  We were admittedly lazy (and possibly depressed).  I'm not proud of this.  I guess I spent a few days helping a woman pack her house to move, but that only earned a trifling amount.

-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?
These stints taught me that we are just not fast movers.  We like to take our time and process.  This is not a virtue when money is running out.  As a result, I have increased the size of our Emergency Fund to 7 months of living expenses.  If I implement an Emergency Budget, I could stretch that same amount even longer if necessary.

If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.
The truth is we got off easy.  Before we were unemployed, we already had a lot of things going for us that are largely beyond anyone's control.  One of the biggest factors was the fact that we didn't have a lot of debt.  Our parents paid for our undergrad and gave us a car.  On top of that, our wedding resulted in enough gifts that we really didn't need to buy anything for our household for years.  We eventually got a mortgage and graduate loans, but the payments on these were not that high compared to our income.

After we stopped working, we stopped doing anything that required money.  We found ways to get free movie tickets, we visited friends for cheap, we cooked everything from scratch, we got free coffee from the lounge at the apartment complex, we rediscovered games we already owned, etc.  We went a bit extreme some weeks, but it definitely showed me we could make our money stretch for a long time if we had to.

Additionally, I always knew in the back of my mind that we had lots of safety nets.  Credit cards, personal loans, family loans, government programs, charity... I basically figured I had a long way left before I was really in trouble.  I'm not sure whether this was a hindrance or a help.  I had the luxury of taking my time to find the right job (not just any job that might be a bad fit) but I also never had a proper fire under my ass to make me move.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.
Our job changes always required a move to a more expensive area.  This meant that I actually got paid more after unemployment, but it was generally tempered by cost of living.  Every time I filled in "desired salary", I would give what I thought was slightly too high, but each time it was accepted.  I'm not a good negotiator.

This link goes to a different thread I started where you can actually see the effect unemployment did and did not have on my net worth.
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/life-story-as-told-through-mint%27s-net-worth-tracker/

Lanthiriel

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 05:45:29 PM »
I would like to hear the stories of those who have been unemployed before (ideally for at least 3 months).  I'd especially like to hear from those that didn't have another income coming into the household (such as from a spouse).

-How long were you unemployed?
-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)? 
-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?  If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.

Not quite the situation you were looking for, but I recently went through this with my husband and thought I might add a few data points.

How long were you unemployed?
He was laid off in May 2016 and I was able to immediately get him a seasonal job with my company that lasted through September 2016. Luckily the seasonal job was hourly construction-based work, so he made really good money that were were able to sock away for those months. He was then unemployed until February 2017.

Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
Not really when it happened. We had just bought a house a year ago and were finishing paying off student debt. We were able to knock out the last of the student loan debt and save about $16k by the time his seasonal job ended.

Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
He maxed out Alaska unemployment at $340/week, which is a pittance compared to cost of living. It was super easy to get set up and upkeep. He collected probably 16 weeks worth of unemployment, but things like out of state interviews would render him ineligible.

What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)?
I'm still pretty annoyed that he didn't really look for ways to generate income. I started doing more mystery shopping, though. It definitely picks up around the holidays, I think because places are looking to meet their shop quotas for the year.

For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?
The situation confirmed for me the need to keep monthly expenses low. We honestly live a fairly lavish lifestyle, but we do it without debt (other than mortgage debt), which makes it easier to slash your expenses to the bone when necessary. We also had to take a really hard look at where we were living. Alaska's economy was (and is) failing, and we realized that as much as we loved living there, it wasn't sustainable to stay. He got three total job offers, and we accepted the one that was sort of the middle of the road for cost of living vs potential for job growth. We almost moved to Indiana because we don't particularly enjoy urban life, but I was worried that if either of us lost a job again, it would be hard to replace in a town of 100,000 people. So we bit the bullet and moved to a major metro area that theoretically will provide us with abundant enough opportunity that we will not have to move again in the face of a job loss.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.
Husband was making $60k in a job that wasn't providing him growth opportunities and wound up making $68k at one with tons of opportunity. It wound up being a good career move for him.

Dave1442397

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2017, 06:27:09 PM »
I got laid off (along with most of the company) when the business tanked in 2009. The job market dried up, and then suddenly everyone was hiring at once. I had job interviews with four major corporations within a week. I interviewed with my current job and it sounded really good, so I took the offer.

How long were you unemployed?
I was out of work for 15 months.

Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?
No, we had just gotten to the break even point (no debt apart from mortgage) after paying off medical expenses.

Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?
Yes, four weeks severance pay, and then unemployment kicked in. Because of the economy at the time, benefits were extended and I got that money until I started my new job.

What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)?
Nothing, just saved money by canceling child care, cutting back, etc. We racked up $12k on credit cards in that 15 months.

For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?
Well, have enough saved to cover expenses for a year!

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.
$85k when I got laid off, started the new job at $96k.

Laserjet3051

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2017, 06:40:28 PM »
I would like to hear the stories of those who have been unemployed before (ideally for at least 3 months).  I'd especially like to hear from those that didn't have another income coming into the household (such as from a spouse).

-How long were you unemployed?

15 long grueling months right at the onset of the Great Recession. At the time of the layoff, my wife was 9 months pregnant and not working. The industry I was in was HEAVILY impacted by the Great recession and hiring across the USA in this sector slowed to almost ZERO.

-Did you have any sort of 'stache when it happened?

No.

-Did you end up getting any type of unemployment?

Yes, UE was literally a lifesaver. It allowed us to EAT.

-What did you do to generate additional income during your unemployment period (if applicable)? 

Nothing. I focused my efforts on trying to get hired, each round of applications targeted a lower and lower bar of jobs until I literally was so desperate, I applied to be a ranch hand to help with maintaining horses (feeding, shoveling excrement, grooming) but was told that I was unqualified......funny, as I hold a PhD, but couldnt even get a job shoveling shit. My wife did go back to work with low paying temp jobs while I stayed home with our newborn. The $$ wasnt great but between her income and my UE and cutting expenses to bone (even deeper actually), we survived.

-For those that were hit hard, what were the biggest lessons you learned while unemployed from the standpoint of how to mitigate the impact and be best prepared if it were to happen again?  If you felt the period of unemployment was not that hard for you to get through, please touch on the things you felt that you had working in your favor so that it wasn't as stressful as it could have been.

Biggest lessons were 1) security is an illusion, 2) were not as bullet-proof as we think we are, 3) having a big stache is essential, 4) in tough times, credentials and experience can mean little, 3) bank threats of foreclosure ring hollow. No fear, went headstrong into foreclosure, which was one of the smartest money moves of my life. Emerged 7 years later with a 840 FICO score. 4) I finally was able to exercise 5-7 days a week doing what I love most, it was pure joy and helped to temper the encroaching depression and anxiety at the time. 15 months UE is a long time and my self esteem was in the gutter.

If you don't mind mentioning what salary you lost upon becoming unemployed versus what you accepted when you went back to work feel free to state this.

Since that Great Recession Layoff, I have yet to get a FTE position (going on 9-10 years now). My first gig post-UE, was contractor IN MY field, at 85% wages with ZERO benefits. But it helped me start climbing out of that DEEP hole. And little by little, I have been climbing since then; still a contractor with ZERO benefits but salary alone (not total compensation) has already surpassed my salary (not total comp) at the FTE job I had pre-UE by at least 15%, maybe 20%. However, contractors have additional expenses that FTEs dont.

MayDay

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Re: For those who have survived unemployment
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2017, 07:29:16 PM »
I'm married but my h and I got laid off maybe five times between us during the recession.

Our state has pretty generous UE benefits so that helped. They were extended during the recession also.

Longest stretch was 9 months.

Luckily between UE and two spouses we did ok.  We did save up and then spend down our e fund multiple time which was depressing as fuck. We'd do nothing fun for a year and then 3 months UE and it would be gone.

We were spread between paying off our HEL (crazy lending at the time meant we had a zero down mortgage) and trying to save. I definitely still feel bitter 10 years later that we didn't do any fun stuff in our 20's before kids because all we did with our money was survive unemployment and pay down a house that we never saw equity from.

Luckily we somehow didn't take too many salary hits. H was in the 70-80k range at the time and I was in the 60's. That was a decade ago though.

We eventually moved to get job stability.