Layoff Drama

I’m not sure how I feel about the new year yet. The local unemployment agency has been less than helpful in Mr. Loper’s attempts to claim benefits, and at this point I’m assuming that because THEIR instructions were unclear, we’re not going to get any money from them. We haven’t gone and staked out the local office yet, though. But neither of us are sure we want to bother. 

It definitely didn’t help that while Mr. Loper got the second cost-of-living-adjustment ‘bonus’ that we weren’t sure he was going to be eligible for, his layoff status evidently didn’t make it through to payroll, and they deducted all the health insurance and FSA payments as if he was still employed.

He spent an hour on the phone with them (being transferred back and forth between payroll and benefits), and they pretty much came to the consensus that the funds probably shouldn’t have been deducted, but they don’t know if he can get it refunded. So we’re out at least $100 that was his former employer’s fault, but who cares. Clearly not them.

And so, the last week or so have been spent scrambling trying to figure out how to feed us, the animals, and pay the mortgage again in March (we’re a couple of months ahead, thank God). Back in 2013, Oklahoma passed a ‘home bakery’ law, which basically means I can sell certain types of baked goods straight out of my kitchen, so long as I don’t make a gross income of more than $20,000 in a year on said baked goods. I also don’t have to have any special licensing to sell eggs from my chickens, as long as its directly to the consumer and they’re sold as ungraded eggs.

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So whee. Home bakery is in the works! The downside is that I can only sell from my house, and I can’t sell online. While I’m partially relieved to not have to do deliveries (and have a legit, legal reason to tell people “No, I can’t deliver.” when they ask), it’s also going to be a bit limiting, because I’m not going to sell to anyone who I feel uncomfortable about knowing where I live. But that’s another worry for another day.

In the meantime, I’ve been baking goods to get pictures, and figuring out out-of-pocket costs, and buying bread bags, and egg cartons. And taking pictures, and making a flyer, etc.

Oh, and applying for a sales tax permit. Hopefully I’ll get something in the mail about that early this week. Because I really need to start selling.

Photo by 401(k) 2012
Photo by 401(k) 2012

I’ve been busy (obviously), which is why I haven’t been blogging. I’ve barely been keeping up with my Blogging 101 assignments.

But if I’m honest, I’ve been keeping myself busy so I don’t have time to sink into depression.

It’s frightening spending money when you know there isn’t anything coming in for sure in the foreseeable future.

It’s frightening the amount of things that break, or get sick (car, dog, chicken…) when you don’t have the money to spare. (This is when your best friend also being your veterinarian comes in really handy, though I’m trying not to take advantage of her, either.) (Note: don’t try to make your veterinarian into your best friend. We were going on 14 years by the time she actually graduated from veterinary school.)

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Mr. Loper has two places that he’s expecting to hear something from next week, job-wise. One retail place called him back last week to offer him a part-time position (he applied for a full-time one that was listed as available) AND they wanted a two-year commitment from him, because of his layoff status. We pretty much laughed and he hung up. He’s called back almost every other place he applied, and the positions he applied for have been filled.

Semi-skilled laborers are apparently in great supply around these parts.

Thanks to an offer for a ride from a friend, I was able to go to church today for the first time since November (since we’re driving on a spare tire right now, we’ve been avoiding as much unnecessary driving as possible). The sermon today was on Joseph, and how he brought Egypt through famine, with God’s wisdom. (Genesis 41)

The minister was focusing, mainly, on the wisdom of saving for hard times when you were well-off.

I tried to take what lessons I could from it, but I will admit that I was having a hard time. Because prior to the seven years of famine, they had seven years of unparalleled abundance.

How on earth do you save when you’ve never had excess? Literally every time I think there might be something left over… somethings comes up where we need to spend it. Our ’emergency’ fund has never had more than $500 in it, and we’ve emptied it several times over the past two years.

It’s ridiculous. And I’m tired of it. But I don’t know how to change it.

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If you’re the praying type, we would appreciate prayers for:

  • Provision (obviously)
  • Strength (I’ve not been sleeping well, and three-ish months of slacking on my vitamins are taking their toll – but I’m low on a lot of things, and don’t know when I’ll be able to get more)
  • Peace (we’ve both been struggling with depression these days
  • Healing for animals
  • Wisdom and guidance, especially, as Mr. Loper’s job hunt continues
  • Hope.

I’ll hopefully have a ‘Down on the (Sub)Urban Farm’ update later this week – because there are LOTS of updates there. And hopefully I’ll be able to have an Introvert Day soon, as well, because Mr. Loper has been home every day since December 3rd, and as much as I love my husband, I really need a day that’s quiet.

Hopefully your life is going far better than mine right now! How’s your New Year coming? Have you packed up Christmas yet, unlike me?

16 thoughts on “Layoff Drama

  1. You are very courageous, and i wish you all the very best. I made some very big changes a few years ago, so have a window into what courage it takes to start afresh. Do you have anything like a Timebank there? We exchange services through the Tinebank here and no money changes hands. Its brilliant. I get my haircut through Timebank and want quite a bit if work done in the garden through it. I send prayers for your baking flying out the door, and for peace in your heart and abu dance flowing to you. Namaste.

    1. It turns out we do actually have a timebank here, but it doesn’t look like it’s been active in a very long time. I’m in several bartering groups, as well, but have had no luck with anyone following through. Fortunately, we do have a few reputable beauty schools around here where Mr. Loper at least can get decently priced haircuts. I really don’t worry about haircuts for myself until I start seeing a lot of split ends! There’s an up-side to actually liking long hair! Thank you for your prayers.

  2. I feel your pain. The husband has been laid off for about 3 months now. He got a job, it was supposed to start this month then ‘Surprise!’ it was conditional on a contract going through. They were nice enough to have him “interview” with another location but now they want to pay him less money than what they had originally offered. We are in a really awkward place of do we take the job that doesn’t make as much as we need, or do we chance it and see if something else will come up before his unemployment runs out.

    1. *hugs* That is a really hard spot to be in, and right now, unless Mr. Loper can find a job in the same industry he was in, that’s what we’re going to have to do as well. The two jobs he’s waiting to hear back on this week are both aerospace (which is what he was doing before), but only one of them currently has even the hope of paying what he was making. One of them we know he’ll be taking a pay cut, but not as much of one as he would going into most other industries.

      Which is why I’m starting up the home bakery. With all the animals, I really can’t have a full-time job outside the home because they need care throughout the day. Especially the chickens when the weather is freezing, because they need access to water that’s, well, not ice. (Which I actually need to go do right now, blah.) But baking from home I can do.

      I’ll be praying for you guys, and that the perfect job comes along quickly. 🙂

      1. Thank you. And same here for you. My mentor always tells me, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to be able to take a step forward. It’s hard especially when they want to work and take it hard about being unemployed. And your bakery business sounds like a fun adventure!

  3. Layoffs are often sudden. If there’s no emergency fund, it can be dire.

    The first thing I would do is call back HR and tell them that if they can take out the money, they sure as hell can put it back. That is called stealing. Anyone who says they can’t put the money back is an idiot. They did that to my husband’s bonus too after he retired. You better believe he called them on it. He got a check that very week.

    When we were dirt poor and starting out, I fed my poor husband little more than rice, lentils and pasta. Meat was a luxury. Fortunately things got better after two years, but looking at pictures from back then, we were pretty skinny. LOL.

    It all works out though. Trust me. Once you get back on your feet, concentrate on that emergency fund. After 40+ years, I guarantee you, you’ll have more than a few emergencies along the way. It was the smartest thing we ever did.

    I’m very glad to hear you’re using your baking skills. You might want to expand and do work lunches if you know enough people to do a start up. You’re on the right track. Just don’t give up hope.

    1. He’s talked to HR/Payroll/Benefits three times already, but he hasn’t accused them of outright stealing yet (or maybe he did, I can’t remember. He was getting very angry by the end of the last call). But I think a call back again this week is definitely in order.

      Mr. Loper doesn’t do well eating very many beans, but he grew up eating Indian food (his grandmother was raised in Sri Lanka) so I foresee many lentils in our future! I just need more recipes.

      Unfortunately, the home bakery law enacted in 2013 is very, very strict. I can literally do ONLY baked goods from home, no meat and no fresh fruit in anything. I can’t even do jams or jellies. Work lunches are out unless I have access to a commercial kitchen.

  4. “We haven’t gone and staked out the local office yet, though. But neither of us are sure we want to bother.”

    You should. I know it’s a hassle, but they need to be held accountable for their mistake, and in my experience (I’ve been through this a couple of times and both times I had to deal with something similar) they’ll do right by you once they see that it was a misunderstanding (that they caused). They might even give you back pay. And it will be worth the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you’ve got a steady source of income during these uncertain times.

    1. I’m back, having read the rest of your post. I just wanted to share what I take from the story of Joseph–how he spent years as a slave and prisoner before God raised him up. When I get tired of waiting for my situation to change, I think about Joseph sitting in prison, wondering if the Pharaoh’s cup bearer remembered his promise and if he would ever be delivered. And when the time finally came for his deliverance, how it was so much greater than anything he ever dreamed of, even in spite of his dream gifting.

      I know this is so hard. And I know it’s not very encouraging to know that we’ve been in a similar situation for so many years, but I can tell you that God has sustained us, and he’s really used our hardship to grow and transform both of us and refine our faith. It’s a tough journey that I believe He reserves for those who are truly strong enough to endure it.

      We’re praying for you guys, and also for God to provide or reveal more tangible ways for us to help. *hugs*

  5. Hang in there, I got laid off a few times in the economic crisis times, I had no way of making any income other than the day job, either. I hope the home bakery business brings good money. You might want to look into baking gluten free and low carb kind of stuff, if there’s demand in your area.

    It is diffcult to save when you live paycheck to paycheck but not impossible. I highly recommend Ramir Sethi’s blog, I learned an incredible amount of info from there. The amount of money you can cut from stuff like car insurance, cable, phone service adds up into a good amount. Even though I have low income, I was able to save 2 months salary and keep it around with all the personal finance and frugality tips I learned from Ramit’s blog and a few others I read years ago.

  6. Have you looked into local farmer markets or craft shows? You could see about becoming a vendor there and then you won’t have to worry about strangers coming to your house. I don’t know what the fees would be. They vary from really cheap to higher costs, but it will be a place people will be going to and shopping.

    1. Oklahoma is really stronger and you can’t sell at farmer’s markets unless you’ve made your goods in a commercial kitchen & have the appropriate licensing. I can also only sell goods in my home, to be eligible under the home bakery act. It’s very dumb. :/

What do you think?