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When the sole provider of the house loses their job

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job loss unemployedBE ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE GAME


When you are the sole provider of the house and you lose your job you’re now faced with a bigger reality that I hope you are prepared for.

I enjoy getting emails from my fans and just this weekend I received one that really was unique and it’s a situation many people fear.

I’ve talked about strategies to survive unemployment, job loss and disability when it comes to work and covered everything from emotional well-being, budgeting to emergency savings.

A Canadian Budget Binder fan sent me an email the other day telling me her husband who is the sole provider for the family lost his job.

She was thankful that she was ahead with the bills and had some savings to get them by but she was not sure where to turn next.

They are not Canadians rather live in the USA and so they both took on the only jobs they could find which are commission based.

The reality is that no matter where you live this could happen to you. This could happen to a single person, or a single parent with only one income.


Losing your job


How will you manage this situation? Not everyone is entitled to employment benefits in Canada so you must be prepared at any given moment for that pink slip.

Even if you are entitled to EI benefits in Canada you still have to wait to get them if approved and that could take weeks. You still need to eat and although most cities have food banks living on the edge can rock the financial boat and put you in a tight spot.

Investing is a great way to stash money away for the future but it’s not always savvy to cash in your RRSP’s to pay off debt. Some people are left with no other options but this option also depends on many factors.

Many people have been there, many have failed but many have survived. I’m sure there are people reading this post right now that would love to share their story to help others learn from their mistakes and fortunes with losing a job, not having savings, too much debt and so on.

I don’t know may people who don’t have debt so it’s a rat race we are all playing and the finish line is when we are buried and in the ground. Even then, money and debt lingers on in your name.




It’s not an easy place to be in living day-to-day not knowing whether you will wake up to having a job or not but sometimes we have to make decisions that may change the course of our life.

Not everyone likes to make decisions that will entail drastic changes possibly for the good because we fear the inevitable.

We fear giving up what we have worked so hard for whether it be a house, a car or stuff we have acquired over the years.

What we fail to understand at times is that may be the golden ticket to get you where you are to where you want to be.

Whether you want to go back to school, downsize or find another job but don’t want the hassle of being a homeowner with all the extras to pay for.

Instead you may opt to rent a smaller place which is easier on your budget so you can not only save money in an emergency savings but look for a new job or go back to school.

When we step outside of our comfort zone it can be a scary place and that’s why so many people would rather go into debt by maxing out credit card after credit card just to stay afloat because they fear the unknown.

No one wants to have to think about bankruptcy but for some people it was a wake-up call and for others it was the start of a new life for them.

Others are happy it didn’t get to the point of bankruptcy because they made some serious changes to their lifestyle to compliment the situation they were in.

Nothing in life is meant to be easy and for those that do have it easy remember what goes around comes around so we all need to be prepared.

The emergency savings fund in my opinion is critical to everyone because if you have no back-up plan you have the weight of stress on your shoulders every single day if you are in any of the above situations.


Debt is real


Why put yourself and your family in that position? Being miserable about money can linger on and on and for some put them in a deep depression because they don’t know where to turn.

One of my Facebook and blog fans from the USA had this to say and its true not only in America but all over the world.

Many people here are still diving into credit. I have none by choice. If anyone watches the news would be afraid to add any debt.

Everything is going up. Home fuel, car fuel & people fuel. It is as bad in many ways as the depression. They just change the names.

Medical is sky rocketing and insurance is a big iffy! People have got to wake up. We have to learn to take care of ourselves. Save, save and save.

No more 20 pairs of shoes & jeans in the top brand. Get down to needs. When these are met and you have a nice nest egg then a few luxuries are OK. Key word being a few

They may know the answers but are too scared to make that change but to be honest waiting until the walls come tumbling down isn’t always the smartest option.


Grab your dreams


Taking control of our lives like this fan is trying to do now is important but I’m sure it will teach them both a valuable lesson.

They don’t want to be in this position again and just that she came to me for help tells me that moving forward they will make a financial plan that will support some sort of savings plan for rainy days like this.

The problem is they have to wait to earn some money if at all to get themselves back on the financial track.

In the meantime she is applying for state aid but there’s no point waiting to hear if you are going to get money or not because the bills still need to get paid.

They have 2 vehicles which are needed to get back and forth to work and apparently nothing left to sell in the house.


Reader question


Here is her email to me…

Dear Mr.CBB and Fans,

A week ago my husband came home with the news that he lost his job, our only income. Thankfully I had already budgeted for the next two weeks and paid the bills.

We had a little saving since we were working on building a fund to start a debt free snowball. We had two weeks to find income or lose the house and many other things.

Thankfully we were blessed with help that saves us from being late on payments for things in the house (they are now paid off and it’s nothing we can’t sell) and we now have a month of expenses to live from.

The job market is so poor here that we have both accepted commission only jobs but they come with a month of training and state restrictions before we can earn income.

That uses our one month expense reserve. We’d like to avoid bankruptcy but are unsure it’s possible given the timeline to bring in income.

Our only debts are two car payments (at the moment we still need two cars) and the house.

Update: They are applying for State Aid on Monday Feb 24, 2014.

Do you or your readers have any advice?

As you can see from the above post she is desperate to hear from others who may have been in their position that could offer some words of encouragement.


The fans speak out


I can tell her what not to do in order to get into that spot the next time but moving forward I’m sure she knows what she needs to do.

I posted this question at her request to my fans on Facebook and here are some of the answers from the fans.

Keep in mind we were not initially aware that she is from the USA. I had updated my fans after I posted the question to let them know so some of the answers may seem Canadian based.

Even so if any Canadians are in the same type of position some of the fans may have some great tips for them. My team of fans come together to help others in need and it certainly shows.

  • If you NEED 2 cars to earn the income so be it but is there any way that one car would do? I dropped hubby off at work and picked him up after work before/after I put in my own work day for over ten years. It allowed us to stay with one vehicle and that saves oodles on gas, insurance, repairs etc. If it is truly a MUST because you are travelling hours in opposite directions, the house can be let go if need be. You can live in the cars in order to get to and from where you can start earning again and you get back on your feet. You use the showers at a local community center or the YMCA and a laundromat for laundry as long as you have at least one vehicle. Good luck!
  • Do you have an education/jobs centre nearby? Our area has what’s called an Employment and Education Centre. They have counsellors on site that help people get jobs, credit counselling, computer courses and more (free of charge services funded locally and by the government). Many of the jobs that go through this place are unadvertised and only filled by that agency. Are there any temp agencies near you that you could be on call for work? There are three in our city of less than 30,000. It may not be the most fulfilling work, but it will put food on the table or get some bills paid. From factory work to desk jobs the temp agencies do a lot. Again, these temp positions are never filled with advertisements online or in newspapers. If you are from Ontario, check out Employment Ontario website.
  • Check with your church. Many will help. There are food banks. Living in a car would be the very last resort. I would choose anywhere besides that. Been there done that. Putting up with your worse relative beats that. Sometimes you just have no choice but to start over from scratch. So many are losing jobs and homes. Many consider getting a travel trailer & going bankrupt. Then think smaller. Smaller home with less frills. We have all gotten bigger and thought we had to have so much stuff. Now you see how fast it can be gone. Way too much stress. Living within our means is something we all need to do. Things will get worse before they get better. You can get some great ideas from minimalist blogs. They have great advice. Wishing the best for your family. God bless.
  • If they could stay with someone they might rent their house out to make payments until they got back on their feet. That way they could keep their home.
  • If they have room they could take on boarders and pay the mortgage that way, with maybe enough for increased bills (just don’t include food)
  • My long-term look at their situation would include… what state are they in? Some states are in worse shape than others as a result of the recession and have poorer outlooks for recovery any time soon. The getting back on firm financial footing is likely not going to be a single step process. Is it time to consider changing states? What skills to they have and where are those skills needed at this time?? What age are these folks and how is their health? Seasonal farm work is not far off in some states. You don’t get rich with farm labor but if they are both working, it may be a slow but doable recovery while you continue to look for work in your chosen fields. Have either of them volunteered in the past? Can they tap into those “connections” for a few paid hours on the side? This is going to be all about no job too small and no amount too little in order to get back on your feet. When my hubby lost his position and went back to school to re-train… I worked two full-time jobs (70-80 hours a week not including travel time and very little sleep) for that year. He had an overnight shift a couple of times a week in the bakery of our local grocery. He also cut grass and shoveled snow for a fee. It was an awakening how lucky we were when we were both employed full-time with benefits.
  • Same author as above ^- My mistake… the writer did not indicate whether the house payment is rent or a mortgage. I would fight to get the house sold if there is any equity built up but many folks the mortgage is still more than the current market value. We know many folks that walked away from their home as their home had turned into a money pit that didn’t hold any hope of a large enough market value increase before the mortgage was up for renewal. They were throwing good money after bad. It’s tough but sometimes you really have to hit rock bottom before you can start building again. I moved in with my parents when my first marriage hit the bricks, I moved right across the country too… but one step at a time, my finances got better. I was lucky to have no little mouths to feed at the time.
  • I would have to suggest looking into a Temp Agency for a short-term solution on an employment solution.

When you have nothing left but the roof over your head and the home you live in the sad reality is you may be faced with having to let something go or hope to find another job that has a regular pay cheque to get you by.

If you have any tips for her please share in the comment section of this post. If you have been in a similar position and can offer words of encouragement remember we all need to smile and have hope. When you believe that you can make your dreams come true, they will flourish. Have faith.



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  1. I would agree that a lot of organizations out there help connect people with jobs, even if very minimal pay and part time. Plus commission only jobs are stressful positions to take. I would seek out a source like Love INC or another organization that doesn’t just help low income but anyone. Networking is everything to let people know you’re looking – pride has to go out the window at that point!

  2. You have some really great tips here! I would suggest taking any job available, sell items, and get affordable help from the government if need be. I was on food stamps for a while after graduating — it wasn’t a proud time in my history, but it helped me get by. I worked my way out, and those times really do make you feel humbled, but also stronger going forward.

  3. Lose those commission only jobs. You guys need cash! Get yourselves over to the local Target, WalMart, Kohl’s, gas station – whatever. You need CASH and you’re not going to get that anytime soon with commission only jobs.

  4. That really is an unfortunate situation. If I was in that situation I would probably try to find whatever type of temp work I could get. Anything is better than nothing in this case. I would network like crazy as well and let everyone know about my situation. Things will get better and tough times don’t last

    1. That’s a great tip Dan, networking. It’s important to talk to everyone you can to let them know you are looking for work.

  5. I agree with what Mary had to say… In Dec 2012 a friend of ours figured out we were in trouble and she and her family went together and bought us a load of groceries. I was stunned and could only stand there with tears in my eyes as she and her daughter unloaded bag after bag of groceries.We have been friends for almost 30 years and our kids grew up together, our daughters are best friends. Those closest to you can be your greatest resource and your greatest help. Let them help…….
    Definately look into what help your local/state/provincial governments can offer, consider it a hand up not a handout. The church is a good place to look for help as well, they can offer emotional support as well as food banks and will help in any way they can so you can keep body and soul together….. good luck with everything…

  6. This really hits home for us we are also a one-income family without a huge emergency fund. The first thing I would do is try to sell everything in the house we no longer needed just to give us a buffer until benefits came in or one of us found a job. We own our home so getting cheaper housing quickly would be a problem, but I would consider renting out a room to someone to make ends meet. What a scary situation and a good reminder to pay off debt and boost the emergency fund!

    1. I think renting out a room is a great idea. We’ve done it in the past however you have to be very selective with who you pick, do background checks and state the rules in writing and get them signed from the get go. It’s also important to talk to your insurance company to let them know.

  7. Not much to add, just sympathies. That’s really stressful (we’re going through this now but thankfully one of us is still employed, and the job market here isn’t as terrible as it once was).

  8. Well said. Losing a job is a very stressful experience. I was downsized last October. Fortunately I was not the only bread winner, but we are doing our very best to stay on top and keep our house. My biggest mistakes, not staying on top of our credit card debt. A year ago our family just had a bad feeling and tried to get on top of it heavily, we cut back everything and put as much as we could toward that debt. I’m proud to say we “all of a sudden” found over $5,000 to put toward it over the year, and we have less than $4,000 left on our credit card debt. We still are paying very generously on it hoping to have it gone by the time my severance runs out, I don’t think we will quite make it, but it will make the base payment very manageable. That way we only will have our home and our car left plus the consumable monthly bills. I am still worried, I still don’t have another job, but I really do appreciate the time I’ve been given. I have been working with our local employment centre, they helped me get training in Excel, Word and PowerPoint since most of my computer skills are Mac based. I have an employment counsellor there that is watching for new jobs coming in and I do hope something will come of it. I even joined the Grocery challenge this year to help me stay on track with our food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc. I have found that the biggest thing I can do is to not panic. It is the third time I’ve been downsized in 4 years. Panic will not help. Take the time to think things through and then act. Make sure you know everything about your lifestyle, what can be cut, what can be reduced and what you really need to do next. I could take a job at any fast food establishment in my city, but I’m not, they are frequently hiring. Not, yet. Consider everything. Good luck to anyone in this horrible situation.

  9. As an actress, I face unemployment with frequency, so job loss doesn’t really freak me out, it’s just part of the business. Then again, I don’t have anyone to support but myself. I can’t imagine how stressed out I would be if other people were relying on my income. Yet another reason I won’t be reproducing for quite some time 🙂

  10. One thing I did not mention yesterday but I will now… is be honest. Tell your friends, tell your family and ask for any and all help they are in a position to offer. Ask them to network their friends and extended family for you to see whatever they can find to help. Information is sometimes the best gift they can give you but take it… take whatever comes your way and use it. It’s hard to admit that you are in a pickle BUT most folks are walking a pretty thin tightrope today and will relate to your situation. I was without any access to food or without the funds to purchase more food when my first marriage crumbled. Someone I had spoken to, or someone they had spoken to, left a laundry hamper of food anonymously for me on my front doorstep. I have never forgotten that kindness. I made it and got thru that horrible spot because I told the truth! I continue to try very hard to pay forward that kindness to others in need. 🙂

    Remember not to judge your “insides” against someone’s “outsides”. You really don’t know just how close they are to their own crisis. You are currently in a difficult situation but you are not a “bad” person. Nor will this last forever. It’s easy to start a vicious cycle of self-flagellation but it is critical that you avoid the temptation! People, and employers, are drawn to strong, self-confident and positive interviewees … so every single day it’s critical that you work on presenting yourself at your very best. This will help shorten the duration this crisis lasts. People are attracted to pleasant, positive, upbeat, committed, hard working individuals so be the person that they want to be around and have around! You are worth it!! 🙂

    My last point is the hardest of all. As one door closes, a window opens. Look for the upside of this change. Are you going to downsize the “stuff” you didn’t need? Are you expanding your contacts? Is there a better job coming as a result? Keep moving forward one step at a time and watch for the miracle… it is coming! My miracle wasn’t immediately obvious but I did manage to slowly get out of debt, put some money in my emergency account again and feel a lot less vulnerable than I did at the start of my crisis. After having moved right across the country to gain employment – I met my hubby& I would never have done that without my personal crisis. We have shared twenty marvelous years together, with financial hills and valleys but we weathered them all. You can weather this period too!

  11. This is a really desperate situation. The biggest advice I would be is not to be picky about the job in the short-term. No job is too menial. It may not be what you want to do long-term but the focus needs to be on surviving in the now. Get money flowing back into the household, then start the job search for a more permanent position.

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