Recession Mama

{April 13, 2009}   Recession Re-invention
The view from the roof of my loft

The view from the roof of my loft

Since Heather, Carla, and I launched this blog, officially, a week ago, I’ve gotten some questions and concerns about my work status. (Even my own mother has said she didn’t realize how many times I’ve been laid off and how incredibly depressing it is!) Well, let me assure everyone that I am working on a show, and I am not here to depress anyone. In fact, the opposite is true. I’m hoping to help and get help with living WELL in this recession.

I want to first explain that I have only been laid off (fo realz) once (the news job in D.C). But I’ve had to look for a new job about 11 times in the last five years. That’s because TV shows end. If I’m lucky, I’ll work on a show for an entire season or two because that show is doing well and has gotten picked up for an extra season . If I’m not lucky, or if I’m just working on a pilot, that show will end in a month or two. Believe it or not, even though I’ve had to look for work 11 times, I’ve only been out of work for only 3 or 4 months in the last five years.

Here’s what I’ve learned from constantly changing jobs:

  • I really enjoy it, and it’s not for everyone. I used to be commitment-phobic. Now, when other people (usually guys) say they’re commitment-phobic, they’re usually telling a girl that they’re not that into them. For me, from the ages of 22-30, I couldn’t commit to cities, jobs, OR boyfriends. During those eight years, I moved NINE times, lived in 8 different cities, and had maybe 8 boyfriends (well… I don’t know if I’d quite call them boyfriends but there I go again with not really committing to them). Well, you get the point. Being a freelance producer fits my personality to a tee. I am a super hard worker, but I do get bored easily. As a TV producer, I am never bored. I’m doing something different every single day. TV is perfect for the A.D.D. personality. And… since I am freelance, I always have the option of moving on to the next show. Now, Fiance, if you’re reading this… I am not commitment-phobic anymore. I have lived in Los Angeles for six years now, and I actually do want stability. That’s why I bought a loft a year ago. Having a mortgage is a BIG responsibility and makes me want to have more of a full-time job… but this is also why I’ve saved up a year’s worth of expenses and why I’m thinking of postponing the wedding. It’s also why I’ve paid off my credit card debts awhile ago, which takes me to the second thing I’ve learned…

  • You do need an emergency savings and not rely on credit cards. It’s too difficult to pay off those cards once you’re working again. And c’mon, when you’re working… don’t you want every penny to belong to you and not to some credit card company? The interest on those cards add up pretty quickly. If you charged a burger on a credit card and didn’t pay off that card for a year…you’ll end up paying something like $100 for that burger! Better be the BEST burger in the world, huh? (If you’re trying to get rid of c.c. debt, read my last post or check out Suze Orman’s site. She has a great system that helped me too.)

  • Network. It may seem like an easy thing to say, but since I’ve started working in entertainment, I have never gotten a job without being recommended by someone else. I’ve never just applied for a position and gotten it. I’ve landed a couple of interviews without knowing anyone, but eventually, they seem to just go with someone they know. And just in case you were wondering, networking goes both ways. If someone helps me, I’m more than likely to help them. I also love having mentors, and I love mentoring. But I don’t always know when someone needs a job so it’s important to put it out there. It’s really no shame to be out of work. Work is work. It shouldn’t be who you are. And if you think you’re not good at networking, take another look at how you network. It’s about establishing relationships, not perfecting small talk or winning a popularity contest. I like to network with good people whom I’d like to be friends with anyway, which makes it easy to ask if they want to go to lunch, have a drink, or send a resume to their boss.

  • Re-invention. This recession, for me, is all about re-invention. Madonna is the mother of re-invention, and it’s really the reason why she still sells out stadiums. With my first lay-off as a national radio news anchor, I had to figure out what I really wanted to do. Within the last five years and a dozen jobs later, I’ve had to learn and adapt to new technology and ways of thinking. I am learning all of the time, and reinventing ways of becoming a better, more efficient producer/writer. Now, I have also never understood people who complain about their jobs. I’ve always thought that if you really hated your job, you should quit. If you were laid off from a job you hated anyway, I think this is the perfect opportunity to find what you truly love and what you are truly meant to do with your life. It’s such a cliche by now that it’s always the most fulfilling to have a job that you would do for free…but it’s so true. Think of this lay-off as a blessing. If you have kids, you can now spend more time with them. If you’ve always wanted to be a stained-glass maker, you can learn how! I have a friend who went to massage school when she thought she was getting laid off because it’s something she’d always wanted to do. Several friends applied to law school, and another friend is starting her own business. Think about what you’ve always wanted to do. What do other people tell you you’re really good at? Write down your thoughts, dreams, fears, and goals. Put together a game plan, a business proposal, or just go for it. I’m trying it out, and I believe my dream and yours will all come true.


Adam Chalmers says:

Recession Mama…great article. You’re one of the fortunate ones that has built up a good network. Unfortunately, this depression we’re in is going to last years not a few months. In Michigan it’s terrible. Because of all the manufacturing jobs that have been outsourced to Mexico and Asia-Pacific. I’d love to be a contributing writer to your blog. I could help with how to invest during the recession/depression and how to protect assets. Keep up the good work on here.

recessionmama says:

Hi Adam,

I agree this is going to last years and not months. I would love to hear your ideas on how to invest and protect assets. Send us one of your recession stories! Give us a bit of your background and financial situation, along with it.

Thanks! ~Katy

Adam Chalmers says:

Hi Katy. I’d love to send you something. Are you on face book? If not, can you email me and I’ll send you over something to proof. I’m assuming since you’re an admin on the site you can get my email.

Carla says:

Katy, I love this post. You really are the picture of reinvention and proof that it works. I have been there…as you know…with my own recent layoff. I went from being a working mom (with cool early morning work hours that allowed me to be home most of the day with the baby), to all of a sudden …and for the 1st time in my life…being a stay-at-home mom with TWO kids. BOOM. Just like that. But I love it and I love challenges. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the world…my wise sister!

recessionmama says:

I think you’re one of the people I know who saw the layoff as a blessing, and that now, you can stay home and be with your kids. It doesn’t mean you can’t go back to work. It just means that, for now, maybe this is the plan.

craig says:

I refuse to participate in the recession. No way, No how. You all enjoy.

Heather B. says:

You go on with ya bad self Craig. Just don’t forget about us. Drop the mamas a line every now and then and let us know how it’s going.

recessionmama says:

Good for you!! I say, for everyone who is not laid off and has the money, please go out and spend it! Eat out, buy stuff (American made, hopefully), and hire people…if you’re a boss! We want to hear your story on how you’re able to not participate in the recession.

Heather B. says:

Katy. You so Mary Tyler Moore! You’re gonna make it afte all. I love it! I agree with you that networking is key. A good recommendation or just a simple “heads up” from a friend is how I’ve landed all of my jobs. And don’t forget one job can lead to another. I got my start in TV by working the assignment desk. I wanted to learn to produce, so I would come in early, and write stories (didn’t get paid, but got the experience). I befriended one of the anchors and she suggested that I check out a nearby community television station. I anchored their news for several years and still kept my other full time job, plus anchored radio on the weekends (Yes 6 to 7 days a week of work). I was able to get a “tape” (video resume) together, I gave that to a person I worked with in radio who had tv experience and he recommended me to a news director at a Dallas station. A great connection can get you an interview, but then it’s up to you to “sell” yourself. My mantra has always been “Go ahead and ask, all they can do is say no.”

recessionmama says:

I love MTM. She was so inspiring for all young women.

Margaret says:

You ladies sure are an inspiration to all that when you are given lemons, make lemonade!

Like Heather, I’ve done the volunteer thing and learned new skills along the way. That’s how I’m at my current job, and although in the past, Katy heard me grumble about it, I’ve found ways to make it fun and fit what I like.

Great view from your loft, by the way. It reminds me of NYC. 🙂

recessionmama says:

Thanks, Margaret! I love living in downtown L.A. for that reason…it really reminds me of living in NYC. I can actually walk around and go to restaurants, stores, etc.

dallasnewsgirl says:

Forget Suze Orman. It’s amazing how she flips and flops. Before recession she advocated credit cards and debt – and received a nice little kickback from FICO everytime she said FICO on the air.

Nope, I’ll stick with Dave Ramsey. He totally rocks and doesn’t change his message. Using his method I’ve paid of $54k and haven’t put a single item on a credit card. Another $10k and I’m debt free, baby, except for the house!

recessionmama says:

If Dave Ramsey works for you, I think that’s great! I didn’t mean to advocate Suze Orman. I had paid off my credit cards years ago, and I sort of did it with my own methods (as I mentioned in my post). I don’t know what the best way is…since I’m not a financial expert. I just gave people Suze’s website because I thought her ideas of paying off the highest interest card first, and then moving on to the next one and then the next one, seems like a good, common-sense approach. I don’t know Dave Ramsey, but hey folks…here’s another person you might want to check out.

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