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On The Outside, I May Look Cool, Calm And Collected But …

So a few months ago now, we were told our office was shutting down. We are a Canadian subsidiary of a very large US corporation and apparently “our services are no longer needed”. So far all we have is a verbal notice. We know management wasn’t  planning to let us know until much later but due to circumstances out of their control they had to let “the cat out of the bag” a lot earlier than planned. It has been over 3 months now and we are still waiting to receive our formal layoff notices (pretty pathetic if you ask me!). On the outside, I may look cool, calm and collected, but … on the inside, I am kind of freaking out!Freaking out!

Financially Independent

If you follow my blog, you already know I am “technically” Financially Independent. Meaning I could retire if I wanted had to. But with three kids (21, 19 and 16) still leaving at home and being the only parent (their dad passed away a few years ago, you can find out how his depression changed our lives ) I decided to continue working and pursue financial freedom instead.

So Why Am I “Kind of” Freaking Out?

Too Many “What If” Scenarios Scare Me.

My life so far hasn’t always been a “walk in the park”, I know s**t happens and usually when you least expect it. When you have kids, it’s worse because s**t can happy to them too! You can’t plan for everything but you need to be aware it can happen and be ready to manage any situations. Having the security of my job while they still live at home allows me not to worry as much about the “What If” Scenarios.

One More Year Syndrome?

My youngest is 16 and being the sole provider, part of why I was planning to work for another few years is so I didn’t have to adjust our lifestyle yet and take the opportunity to save more. I was looking forward to start taking more time off and travel often (with and without kids) while I was still getting a regular paycheck and free travel insurance.

It’s Not On My Own Terms!

I lost control. It’s one thing when you decide it’s time to leave work or retire. You progressively get ready for it, start planning your next moves. But when you get laid-off, someone else’s is making the decision for you. You are not in the driver’s seat anymore. It’s that loss of control I find hard to deal with. One of the main reasons I am pursuing Financial Freedom is so I can make my OWN choices and decisions, not to have some management “dude” (been around my kids too much!) do it for me.

I Feel “Cheap”!

I have been loyal, ethical, and hard-working for so many years, for what? You may think your company cares but it’s true, at the end of the day, you are just a number to them. You think they will remember all those years you worked so hard for them? I mean how can they not, I started at the bottom of the food chain as an administrative staff and worked all my way up to vice president, someone must have noticed right? NOP! It took me so many years of hard work and dedication to get where I am today. It wasn’t always easy but it seemed worth it then. And now? They are done with me! Moving along, there is nothing left to see:

“We thank you for your years of service and wish you all the best in your future endeavour!!!”

I Am Not Ready To Retire!!!

This is the worst part; I am not ready to leave my job. I know many of you are saving so you can retire early but I happen to like working. My pursuit of financial freedom is so I have the freedom to choose what I want to do, when I want to do it. I wasn’t planning to stop working yet, and definitely not entirely. In all fairness, when you read many FIRE blogs, most of them are not “retired”; they all have side hustles including blogging. There is nothing wrong with it but just pointing out that not working at all is not for many. Being laid off doesn’t mean I have to retire but (see next bullet):

 I Will Never Find Another Job Like Mine.

I bitch and complain about work like everyone else (right?) but after so many years of hard work, I am in a pretty good position! My boss is miles away and I only have to interact with him when there is an issue (so I avoid them). I don’t need permission to take time off, work from home or get in late and leave early. I don’t cheat the system but I have the freedom to do what I want as long as the work gets done and I meet ALL the deadlines (and we have lots!). When it was -42oC two weeks ago, I was so thankful I could park my car in our building (company paid). There is no way I will find another job like mine! It’s not just the money, it’s the freedom.

I Will Miss My Co-Workers

For sure some days they drive me crazy but in general I really like them and will definitely miss them. We are not best friends or anything , but after all these years working together, I got used to see them and interact with them almost every day. I am sad to think I probably will never see them again. I know I could make an effort and keep in touch but it’s not the same and I suck at keeping in touch:(

Turn Off The Lights On Your Way Out!

I have worked for my company for a good part of my adult life, trying to build a career for myself and a company we could all be proud of. It took a lot of really hard work from lots of people to get where we are now – a medium size profitable business – and now , through no fault of our own, it is all going to end! What a waste! It is very sad.

So here you have it, these are all the reasons I am kind of freaking out inside! I am fortunate I don’t have to worry as much about the money (but I still do) at this point but many of my co-workers do.

What’s Next?

I am not certain yet what my plan is going-forward. Lots of option but there is no point in me making any type of decisions until I get my severance package.

Why Wait For My Severance Package?

Why am I waiting to get my severance package before moving on, why not just leave now? Well, unlike in the US, we don’t have “employment at will” in Canada. We have provincial Employment Standards that set the minimum owed to an employee in case of termination. But most times, assuming you didn’t sign an employment contract with a specific termination clause when hired, terminations are based on “Common Law”. And because I have worked for my company for a long time, my package should be quite substantial! It would be stupid for me to leave now knowing I would leave a pile of cash behind. It is common in Canada to receive 3-4 weeks of severance for each year of service!

So, just like everybody else, I am waiting for my “package”.

Small Steps In The Right Direction

In the meantime here are the small steps I am taking in preparation of my pending lay-off:

  • Increase my LinkedIn connections, it will be handy if I look for work or start my own business.
  • Plan a meeting with an employment lawyer soon. I need to be pro-active and find out how much I could really get in the current market. Maybe I can give my boss my own severance proposal! It would be bold but you have to be pro-active sometimes. You don’t get what you don’t ask for (same as salary increase). I know a lot about employment law but lawyers keep up to date with all recent cases and legislation, it would be helpful to know what I can ask for. Even if I don’t give them a proposal I will know what I should expect and be in a better position to negotiate my package once I get their offer.
  • Plan a few trips this year while I have a regular pay cheque and full travel insurance (and paid vacation)
  • Work on a business plan in case I decide to start my own business, lots of research to do regardless of the business.

Have you ever been in this situation? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Related post: Could getting laid off be the right opportunity for me to retire earlier?

34 thoughts on “On The Outside, I May Look Cool, Calm And Collected But …

  1. Hi Caroline,

    In 2010, I was let go from my employer of 10 years. It was the only time in my career I parted ways on my employers terms. I saw it coming and also had an “exit package” agreement in place. So I waited. Similar to you I networked a lot in the year leading up to the day. LinkedIn, networking groups, personal contacts and meetings with consulting firms that could offer quick employment opportunities.. I found equivalent employment in 6 weeks and doubled my compensation for the next year with the exit package.

    I look back at that day and view it as the best day of my entire corporate career (unlike you, I did not enjoy working at the company that let me go). Like you, I could have retired at that point if I wanted to, but I wanted to keep working and apply my abilities to other opportunities where I would be valued again. I also wanted to leave the corporate world on my terms some day which I did in 2013 to go into teaching.

    Anyway, from my experience do what you are doing 1) wait until it happens, 2)network like crazy in the mean time, 3)do anything you can to secure and maximize your exit package.

    You will be fine and likley look back at this as a great experience.

    Tom

    1. Thanks Tom, I keep hearing from many, it is the best thing that ever happen to them so it must be true. I can see that it’s going to force me to change things a little and that’s good, I wouldn’t be worried as much if I didn’t have kids!

  2. Well although it’s tough getting laid off, thank goodness you have been saving your $. There seems to be a lot of this going around and most people without the savings are going to have a lot tougher time. I would say most people have mortgage, car loans, credit cards etc., you on the other hand have smartly prepared for this. The company my daughter works for is merging with another company and there are going to be significant reductions especially where departments overlap. Everyone’s job is in jeopardy which in turn puts everyone on pins and needles. Her position was a contract position and she was hoping to become a full time employee because it’s a great company to work for. She is looking for another job just in case.

    1. You are correct Bob, there is a lot of this going on:( I can’t imagine how I would feel if I had a mortgage and other debt to pay, and still have to worry about my kids.
      I hope things work out for your daughter.

  3. Caroline,

    You are at a tough spot now. I think you are doing the right thing: wait to see the severance package, and start reaching out. The uncertainty does freak people out. Do whatever you can, and make sure to take care of yourself first. It will work out in some way.

    When I was working, the layoff and downsizing was always a ghost that was haunting everyone’s mind. The job security of IT is not that great. As you mentioned, the employment in US is at will. One company I worked at, they did the layoff in one day. Some folks went to work in the morning, suddenly found out the job was gone, and went home in the afternoon. Loyalty? Not much. Sad, but it’s the reality. Now retired, I don’t miss the work at all.

    1. I have seen it too. People come to work, next thing you know they are being escorted out of the building!
      And you are correct, the uncertainty is unsettling.

  4. Wow, you have a lot going on (which I guess is what makes your blog so interesting!) So, I have no advice for you. I was never laid off or let go by any employer because I always had one foot out the door and never stayed anywhere long! Story of my life. Even this blog I’m working on right now, eh, daily I think, maybe I’ll just do something else instead. The only thing I seem to be stuck with is the tile of landlady, eek! 🙂

    1. Well thank you!:) What’s that about blogging? Come on you were even featured on Rockstar Finance! You have to keep at it…for now at least:) If landlady is what works for you then so be it. And way more lucrative than blogging I heard.

  5. How frustrating!! I can understand why you are so upset. But – you are in a better situation thank (I would guess) 99% of your coworkers. At this point, I would consider maybe taking a “mini retirement” like Ms Montana talks about and give yourself some time to breathe and decide what you want to do next. No reason to rush into another job just to stay employed when you don’t have to be – wait for your perfect opportunity.

  6. Hi Caroline, bummer after all those years of hard work to be laid off. At least you have been smart with your money and you are still young to get another job. Remember 50 is the new 30, you might look back in 10 years and think it was the best thing that ever happened. Good Luck !

  7. Sounds like you are considering all the right things. I’ve not ever been in that situation, but I know it could happen to any of us. So glad you are financially prepared. I hope you hear soon when the final shoe will drop. Best of luck, although I’ve no doubt you’ll figure it out.

    1. Thanks Amy. I wish more people were financially prepared for the rainy days. I guess that is why we all blog about PF, to try to help others as much as we can. The emotional side of this is already hard enough, I can’t imagine what it would be like if I had to worry about putting food on the table.

  8. Sorry to hear about the job loss. Sounds like your head is in the right place. Maybe this will give you a chance to move in a direction you never expected!

  9. That’s amazing that you are a VP! So awesome, but sorry about this drama from your work. I hope your severance package will be amazing. If it’s SUPER amazing, do you think you will return to work or would you pursue something like start your own business instead?

    My brother in law recently was let go but he got an AMAZING severance package, like $200-300K (yes…that’s right) and he got a job within weeks! If it were me I would prefer to take some time off but my sister in law put him to work right away and networked and got him a job.

    Networking with your contacts would be a good idea right now too in addition to LinkedIn, I’m sure someone can get you a good job.

    1. Lol, “your sister in law put him to work right away”!
      I hope my package is really good, not sure about $200K as it sound like they are going to use working notice as part of the package but will keep my fingers crossed! Plus you still have to pay taxes…lots of it! I have been thinking about starting my own business but I am not 100% sure yet. I don’t think I want to keep working full time…will see.

  10. You’ll never find another job like yours? Why would you say to yourself? If your job really was special then your company wouldn’t be treating you like that. You know you have talent because you worked your way up to that job no thanks to your company, you did that! Use this as a chance to get a raise and a job for a company that really does appreciate you. This isn’t a disaster, this could be the best thing that ever happened to your career. Those idiots don’t deserve you, but there is a place for you out there that will let you chose when you leave the 9 to 5. I know this hurts but don’t let it shake your confidence, your track record shows you are not to be trifled with.

    1. Actually it doesn’t hurt. That’s the kind of things I need to hear once in a while! Maybe not to work for someone else but to start my own business:) Thank you

  11. As another single parent I understand the need for security and predictability in the family finances. Thankfully, you’ve looked after things in the past so your situation isn’t nearly as dire as it could have been. I hope your severence package is a good one!

  12. I sure hope they get their sh*t together for you and your colleagues. That’s no way to treat employees. But as you said, just a number. We have a program at our company offering an “early retirement incentive” of a year’s pay plus health benefits to those over 55 with 10 years of service. You’d think they were trying to weed-out the highest paid, highest benefit utilizers. Replace them with 45K per year kids out of college. Man I can’t wait to be done with this!

  13. Yes, companies are not loyal nowadays. Sad but true. If you are going to look for another job, try to make lemonade out of lemons by maybe looking for President or CEO position with better pay and benefits?

    1. Starting all over again working for a new company and going thru all the corporate BS just doesn’t sound very appealing to me right now:) But if I decide to continue working full time, i will definitely shoot higher!

  14. I’d be freaking out inside too. But also outside. I don’t hide my freakouts well, as poor Tim has experienced far too many times. I’m lucky to work for a small company — and I know the boss doesn’t want to go back to doing my job — so I’m relatively safe. Then again, if times got tough they could decrease my pay. And this is a job that I won’t find anywhere else (working from home with a livable wage). So if my job were ever threatened… I’d have zero recourse and a lot of anxiety.

    I hope you find some ways to calm yourself down. Maybe just repeating, “I don’t *need* the job.” will remind you that you have options — including just taking your time to find a replacement. Unlike a lot of people, you don’t have to replace your income right away, which will hopefully be logic that breaks through the panic.

  15. I know it comes off super frustrating but it could be a blessing in disguise. It takes a shake up to flush out the real us inside. I’m glad to hear you to work, that’s so rare.

    Getting a job won’t be a problem, you have so much experience. If anything, expect a salary jump as well as a generous package! Despite the heartbreak, it’s definitely not super sad news. Company do this all the time, I’m glad this caught you at a better time than most people. My friend is 25 years younger and has a baby coming under similar conditions, ouchy!

    1. At 25 I wouldn’t have been as worried except for the baby part! But then I had my husband to back me up:)
      I know it will be fine at the end, it is just very stressful at the moment. I just wish they would come out and tell us what the plan is!

  16. Hi Caroline:

    “You may think your company cares but it’s true, at the end of the day, you are just a number to them.” I completely agree with this 10000%! I could probably write a whole post about this since I’m so passionate about this topic LOL… but for now, I’ll just leave it at that.

    I’m sorry to hear this, especially after many years of your hard work and service to the company. But it’s great that you have financial independence. Although you have FI, it’s funny how you still feel like the Homer up there. Now, imagine if it was someone who had nothing and relied on their job to get by?? yikes, I couldn’t imagine that feeling…………….

    Now you’re way too young to retire and do nothing! You still have so many years ahead of you… there’s so much more to do, so you’re right about not retiring yet. I hope you find a business or some work within time (which I’m pretty sure you will).

    btw, you’re smart for waiting for the package. I’m sure any normal person here would do that haha… I hope it’s something big so that it will give you more time to think. On top of that, don’t you get EI after the severance package ends??

    Overall, I think you’ve got this all under control!! You will likely forget your coworkers in a few years because something amazing is about to come… woo-hoo! 🙂

    1. You got me all excited! Woo-hoo:)
      I am definitely not ready to retire but will probably take some time for myself. I need to look into EI to see what they pay and how long it will take me to be eligible, depending on my severance. And yes I do feel the pain for those who have no financial backup:(
      For me I think I just always worry more because there is no backup for my kids (even if they are getting older!).

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