A New Job in a New City
Jesse started his new job the beginning of 2007 with high hopes. 2006 had been a difficult year of finishing law school, preparing for the bar, taking the bar, waiting for the bar results, morning sickness and then spending a few months not knowing whether he was going to have a job at the beginning of the year or not.
We were very ready to get back into a “normal” routine after months of upheaval and uncertainty. And we were excited to start saving in earnest after years of depleting our savings.
But within the first month at his new job, Jesse realized this job was going to be a lot harder than he had anticipated. The learning curve was steep, the hours were long, the work was stressful and the office environment was tense.
It begin to wear on Jesse and within a few months, he was almost continually exhausted and stressed. More big projects arose and he had to put in longer hours. Jesse, the always easy-going, fun-loving guy, was so overloaded at work that he rarely smiled or enjoyed life anymore.
I knew it was becoming too much for him and I felt powerless to help him. I tried to make our home a welcoming haven for him, I tried to encourage him as best as I knew how, but the pressure he was dealing with at work was enormous.
He was working so many hours and was so focused on keeping up with his job that he wasn’t home much anymore. And when he was home, he wasn’t very “present.” It was a hard, hard time. He hated being “absent” from our family, but he also had to keep up with things at work lest his job be in jeopardy.
The stress trickled down to me and I began neglecting my own health. Soon I started experiencing issues in my pregnancy. I became very anemic and ended up in the hospital for five days when I was 34 weeks along. They were worried I was going to have to be induced early since my hemoglobin and platelet counts were so low. But God intervened and I was able to carry Kaitlynn to 38 weeks before being induced.
These health issues felt like the last thing Jesse needed to be dealing with. And I felt so bad that I was adding extra burdens to his already-overloaded plate. But God used it for good, because it was a wake-up call to both of us to realize something major needed to happen in Jesse’s job situation, or he needed to quit.
The thought of him quitting scared us though, as we desperately needed the insurance benefits from his job — especially now that I was having so many health issues. It was a vicious cycle and we felt trapped.
We prayed and talked about it a lot. More and more it felt like it was the right thing for Jesse to turn in his resignation. And yet at the same time, what about our financial goals and hopes and dreams? Wouldn’t it be completely shooting ourselves in the foot to voluntarily cut off most of our income?
And how would we survive if Jesse wasn’t able to get a new job right away? We had been working hard to try and save money, but after all the medical bills from my health problems, we only had enough in savings to live on for a few months. And my income from my online business was certainly not enough for us to survive on.
It seemed like it would be foolish to resign just because a job was too stressful, so we tried to come up with ways to restructure things in our home and lives to relieve as much stress as we could. We figured if we could just ride this out for a few more months, things would probably get a lot smoother.
But then very unexpectedly, Jesse was asked to resign. While this came as a complete shock to us because no one had any idea we were praying about him resigning, we took it as God’s clear direction for us. But we didn’t know what the next step might be, or how we were going to live if Jesse didn’t find a job very quickly.
So without much warning, we were left without our primary income source — in a new city with little support, few friends and even fewer business contacts.
At first, we were pretty confident finding a new job wouldn’t be too hard. After all, we were in a big city and Jesse had his law license. How hard could it really be to find something which would pay the bills?
Well, apparently it was a whole lot harder than we’d initially envisioned. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months.
We applied for just about every job under the sun. We prayed harder than we’d ever prayed before. We contacted anyone and everyone who might have a possible job lead. We followed up with every application and did our best to leave no stone unturned.
And yet, no one was even calling to offer Jesse an interview, let alone a job.
I wish I could say that I kept a cheerful attitude through all of this. On the contrary, I woke up every morning with a sick feeling in my stomach wondering how much longer things would go on like this. And I’m very ashamed to admit it, but I often found myself angry at my husband.
I felt alone, scared and stressed, and I took out my frustrations on my husband — which was the last thing he needed at one of the lowest points in his life. Our marriage started feeling the toll, and during those months of unemployment, there were times when it was only hanging on by a thread.
[Just a short side note: A few months after all of this took place, God really convicted me of how wrong my attitudes were during this whole experience and I went and humbly asked for my husband's forgiveness -- which he graciously gave to me, even though I didn't deserve it. I'm thrilled to report that our marriage is much stronger today as a result of all of these trials and I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that I am married to the most wonderful man in the whole wide world! He has stuck by me through thick and thin and loved me no matter what. I'm so blessed to be Jesse's wife!]
Gratefully, we didn’t have any debt and we were still living on a strict budget, so the job loss didn’t plunge us into complete financial ruin. I can’t even fathom what it would have been like had we piled up a bunch of debt in law school or followed the advice offered by many following law school: to go buy a house and live extravagantly now that my husband was officially a lawyer.
While our marriage was in bad shape, we did make one good decision — to be as creative and resourceful as we could in order to avoid dipping into our Emergency Fund unless we absolutely had to.
At this point, I had an online bookstore and a small personal blog which I’d slowly been growing. I had recently written a course on Supermarket Savings and we decided to experiment and run a big blow-out sale. We set up an affiliate program for the sale and notified as many of our online friends and companies about the sale.
By God’s grace, the three-day sale on our ebook package earned enough money for us to live on for a few months. We could hardly believe it! That was a huge bright spot in the midst of tremendous discouragement.
We started to really think outside the box when it came to our income: Jesse took on some contract jobs, we got a newspaper route and I continued to bring in some supplementary income through the online bookstore.
It was also during this time that the idea for MoneySavingMom.com was born. There weren’t any blogs listing weekly deal match-ups for drug stores at that point and many people who had purchased my Supermarket Savings ecourse were writing and asking for more help and counsel.
I’d learned a lot about blogging and monetizing a blog over the past few years and I figured starting a frugal, money-saving blog might be a great opportunity to test some of those ideas out. Jesse was excited about the idea, so we brain-stormed a name and set up the site.
At that point, I was hoping the site would provide a place for me to practically help people learn to live on less by sharing things which had allowed our family to stay out of debt and live on a beans-and-rice budget. Little could we have dreamed that MoneySavingMom.com would someday soon be earning a full-time income and help us be able to save and pay cash for a home!
Unbeknownst to us, while it seemed like we were getting nowhere in the job search, God was doing some pretty amazing things behind-the-scenes to lay things out for our lives to be turned upside-down — in a very wonderful way!