I was wandering in my dream land at about 10:30 PM when Mr. FAF stormed into the master bedroom.
“I have bad news for you,” he said breathlessly.
For about 5 seconds, I ran different scenarios in my head to see what bad thing could have happened to us.
I was still employed at my job.
He couldn’t have been fired within a day.
If he were, he would have informed me even before he got home from work that day, not at 10:30 PM.
I didn’t hear Baby FAF crying, so he should be ok.
I calmly asked him “What’s the bad news?”
Mr. FAF responded in a concerned tone “My friend got a verbal notice that he would be put on a four-month performance review if he doesn’t improve in 30 days.”
Although the news had little to do with us, I too got concerned.
Mr. FAF and his friend worked at the same company though in different cities.
They interviewed for different companies at almost the same time.
Mr. FAF’s friend started working at the same company 9 weeks before Mr. FAF.
I know they talk to each other often, comparing the workload, the working environment, and future career plans.
This news worried us because Mr. FAF and I had been fearing potential layoffs at our workplaces.
Mr. FAF’s friend got the notice (technically a warning for a potential layoff) that day.
Mr. FAF could be next. I got scared.
In the next 30 minutes, our conversation went something like this:
Me: What’s his background?
Mr. FAF: He was laid off from a startup and freelanced for nine months before getting the current job.
Me: Is his wife working?
Mr. FAF: She was a programmer. When he got the new job, she resigned from hers. She wants to pursue her passion which is baking, but she is currently not unemployed.
Me: Do they have kids?
Mr. FAF: No, but they just bought a new house a couple of months ago right after he started working at the new job.
Me: Is he worried?
Mr. FAF: He’s stressed. They are a one-income family. They have to pay for mortgage and other expenses.
I know Mr. FAF couldn’t fall asleep until late that night. We put ourselves in their situation and considered what we would do if the friend gets laid off in 5 months.
He still has time to find a different job. But will it be as good as the current one? Should he focus all of his energy on improving his performance or spending some time looking for a new job?
I believe he will do everything he can to either maintain his job and/or look for new employment.
Part of me couldn’t stop thinking about his wife. She used to be a programmer and must have earned a decent income. But her heart wasn’t in programming.
She wanted to pursue her dream of working at a bakery and creating beautiful and delicious pastry. That’s indeed a huge career change.
She must have trusted that her husband would be able to hold on to his well-paid job when deciding to quit hers altogether.
Why not pursue your passion when you have your spouse’s love and support anyway?
But reality seems to have another plan for them.
Now both of them are stressed about being unemployed at the same time.
The financial pressure is real. I later found out that Mr. FAF’s friend sounded distressed on the call.
I feel bad for the husband. He was shouldering most if not all of his family’s financial responsibilities, and now they really weighed on him.
I also feel bad for the wife. She is pursuing something that she loves. Her passion hasn’t generated any income yet. If the husband gets laid off, she might have to either start a job or find some temporary employment to pay the bills.
Mr. FAF and I then started talking about what we would do if both of us get laid off at the same time. Below are the solutions we came up with.
— Mr. FAF will start driving Uber and apply for a new job at the same time.
— My driving skills are kind of sub-par, so I will try to apply for a job at Macy’s or some restaurants near our house while applying for a full-time job.
— Both of us will also try out temp agencies while applying for a new job.
— We will need to tap into our savings to sustain our lives.
That night we also got more determined about doubling our savings. The only way to assuage fear is to have more money under our belt.
We have no control over our employers’ decisions, but we can have control over our finances, and that’s what we want to do.
Lowering expenses, especially Mr. FAF’s Amazon electric purchases and our grocery bills, is also part of the plan. In other words, we got scared, and that motivated us to be more active about planning for the future.
As I am typing this post, I really hope that Mr. FAF’s friend will be able to improve his performance and stay on the job.
I know Mr. FAF really cares about his friend and sees him somewhat as a copy of himself at the company. Seeing his friend being laid off would really scare and upset Mr. FAF.
And most importantly, we want Mr. FAF’s friend and his wife to be able to pay their bills and maintain their lifestyle instead of running into a frantic mode.
As we were worried about them, we realized that we could be next. Nothing can guanratee that Mr. FAF won’t get the same notice from his supervisor one day. The same can happen to me.
This extreme dependence on our 9-5 jobs needs to end as soon as possible.
While FIRE is still along way from now, we will need to plan for the short term and make sure we have enough money to weather any financial storms that come our way.
In the process, exploring different streams of income wouldn’t hurt either.