Recession Mama

{August 7, 2009}   Sad News

–by Carla Marion

My heart is heavy with worry and sadness for two very good men. 

Two of my former co-workers were laid off from my old station. One had been there 31 years and is known by name more than just about anyone else in this market. He is a giant in this business. He is also practically family. He calls himself my “Dutch Uncle”. We are close. His daughter is a dear friend of mine and her daughter is around my toddler son’s age and they play together. His wife shares her incredible recipes with me and I attempt to recreate them, but with no luck most of the time because there is no better cook. I had the honor of anchoring alongside him for a few years…the best years of my news career. We are connected. And now, sadly, we have yet another thing in common. Here, Brad Barton tells us what happened and says goodbye as only he can:

“Shortly after my shift ended at 10, I was called to Brian Purdy’s office where Kurt Johnson and the new H-R director met me.  I had been out of contract since April and was on notice to expect a salary reduction of up to one-third.  I thought they might be informing me the new lower rate was about to begin.  Instead, I was told my position was being eliminated.  Since I did weather for KRLD, TSN and KVIL, had several endorsement clients and anchored a 5-hour AM drive shift, it was not exactly clear which “position” they were eliminating.  The fact is, everyone knew it was my salary that was being eliminated. 
I believe Brian and Kurt were sincerely sorry about what they had to do (to everyone) Thursday and I have no reason to think otherwise.  My high opinion of both has not changed.  They were very clear about the fact that it was strictly a financial restructuring and nothing punitive. 

I was told no one in the newsroom knew what was going on yet.  When Paul sent me upstairs, I asked him if I should finish my afternoon weather feeds before going up.  He said no.  Again, I have no reason to believe that he was aware.  Because of that, I promised Brian and Kurt that I would finish my TSN and KRLD midday weather feeds and slip out without anyone knowing what had just happened.  As my brain was descending into a kind of crisis-fog, it didn’t occur to me that I was only the first “whackee”.  It was a little more of a struggle but I recorded the last 5 pieces and logged off.   
I almost kept that promise to slip out without anyone knowing, but I told Chris Schneider privately because I needed someone I could trust to look after my personal property in the Weather Center before it would be packed up for me.  I have books, large maps, office supplies and mementos, along with 2 TVs I was donating to the station so we could replace some of the inop units we had been missing for months.  As he is a Christian brother, he and I had a brief word of prayer there in my office right before I walked out for the last time.  We both know this life is only a vapor and my career at KRLD is not the most important thing in my life.  I have a great wife who has stuck with me 32 years, two great kids I’m extremely proud of, my health and an unbelievably supportive church family, plus the prettiest 2-year old girl in Collin County.  My problems are few and small. 
Kurt and I agreed on the phone that I will continue to do spots for the clients who’ve committed to annual rates until their contracts run out and I’ve fulfilled my obligations.  I have no interest in burning any bridges at KRLD or CBS or causing any collateral damage, but you knew that already.   
Brenda was not going to be home all day, having lunch with the girls in Allen, and I didn’t want you to find out second-hand, so I called her from the road first, then I called you.  I talked with Mike last night on the Big Island. 
I wish I could express my gratitude to the listeners publicly but we know that’s not how our business works.  Bob Hathaway is the unretired champion and Neil Sperry takes my place as the second longest beard at KRLD.    
For the record, my broadcasting career at KRLD lasted 31 years, 4 months and 3 days for which I am extremely grateful.”


My other “work husband”, Mark Watkins, spent the last 7 and 1/2 years at the station. We have history and most of it includes laughing so hard that stuff came out our noses. He is a walking thesaurus/encyclopedia/dictionary. I loved working alongside him because of his brain, and because we just cracked each other up so easily. (It makes bringing you bad news every day a little easier) He and I shared the anchor desk for years.

And today they are both out of work.

Out of work + in this recession + in the radio business = not a good combination.

But they are both supremely talented men who will undoubtedly find work very soon.


{July 27, 2009}   My Freelance Cycle

By Katy

I have my next gig lined up.  Whew!  R-E-L-I-E-F.  If you are a freelancer, you totally understand where I am coming from.  Now, I must say I actually LOVE freelancing.  It is very liberating.

Let me steal the pirate’s theme song for a minute.  Yo! Ho! Ho!  The freelancer’s life’s for me!

Freelancing like a pirate?!

Freelancing like a pirate?!

Really!  I love the life of a freelancer.  I jump from project to project, so I am never bored.  (Great for those of us with undiagnosed ADD.)  I am also blessed; I do work pretty regularly.  And it really is just as exciting as a movie pirate’s life, including the occasional spotting of Johnny Depp.

Capt Jack Sparrow was a free-booter!

Capt Jack Sparrow was a free-booter!

On the other hand, a pirate’s life has its drawbacks.  Try making your own plans, and you’ll most likely be staring down the plank.  Also, since I am seldom on land, having a stable life which includes seeing my Fiance, family, or friends regularly just doesn’t happen.  I’ve had to change course many times.  (Thanks for all the understanding.  You know who you are.)

The other drawback is the emotional rollercoaster (or waves, if we’re still using the pirate metaphor) you go through when you’re not working.  Usually, after I wrap a show, I make plans.  I write down a list of everything I’d like to do while I’m not working.  It always includes things like writing, cleaning the house, organizing stuff, exercising more, traveling, and seeing all the friends and family members I’ve canceled on many times before.  Let’s say my last day on a show is a Friday.  I’m writing up my list on Saturday.  Sunday, I file for unemployment.  By Monday, I’m completely unmotivated.  I sleep in.  I try to exercise, half-heartedly, but I really just end up watching TV.  A lot of TV.  The next day, this lethargic cycle starts all over again.  By Wednesday, I try to “snap out of it,” and I finally call, e-mail or facebook some friends.  Usually, the ones who have jobs are busy.  The ones who don’t have jobs are eager to go out, but they don’t have any money.  By Thursday, I am depressed, and I think I should go to therapy…but who has money to see a therapist when you’re not working?  By Friday, I think I’m never going to find a job again.

OK, I may have exaggerated the timeline a bit.  But as Spock would say, it is not logical.  I know.  I KNOW.  I KNOW!!!  But somewhere in the back of my brain, a little voice will keep telling me that I will…not…find…a…job…ever…again.  Not that I’ve even tried to find a job.  I just find myself thinking this.  I also think…maybe I need to change careers or why don’t I just find something more stable or why can’t I just win the lottery (hence last week’s post).  I know a lot of my fellow freelancers go through this self-defeating, self-absorbed cycle-babble every single time they’re unemployed too.  So, why am I even telling you all this?

Well, now that I have my next gig lined up, I am not in the worry phase anymore.  I can see more clearly now, and I hope that by writing down my crazy thought cycle, that maybe, just maybe, I won’t repeat them the next time around.  Because there will be a next time.  I’m a freelancer.  Shows end.  And I, for the most part, happily, move on.  I am also writing down my cycle of work withdrawal to help those of you who are freelancers or who are looking to freelance.  I want you to know that I’m here for you.  And hopefully, you’ll be there for me.  We’re all in this together.  I’m sure we all go through this, and I would love to hear more people admit it.  So, what do you do when you are unemployed?  Is there a cycle you go through?  Are you first in denial?  Then, after you get angry, do you start to grieve?  Finally, do you heal, move on, and realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you will, eventually, find a job and not die lonely, poor, homeless, or end up in any other (semi to dramatic) life or death scenario?

I want to learn to enjoy my time off, finish that to-do list finally, and go on vacation.  Because eventually when I do start working, I will wish I had more time to excercise, travel, and see friends and family.

{July 10, 2009}   …What She Said

–by Carla

Heather’s post this week really hit home for me. What she wrote could not be more true. I can honestly say that since I was let go from my FT job last winter, I have been able to focus more on my health, which stinks right now, but at least I can try to heal.

I’m basically running around like a Saudi sheik with a crew of doctors these days…going from one to the next…trying to figure out what the heck’s wrong with me. Maybe it’s nothing. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve cranked out 2 human beings in the past 2 years. That’s gotta do a number on a girl’s body. Maybe I’m just old.

But one thing’s for sure: With work out of the way, I have way more room in my brain to worry about what matters most: my boys…

Putting both boys in the pool keeps me plenty worried...believe me.

Putting both boys in the pool keeps me plenty worried...believe me.


Something else got me thinking from Heather’s last guest post about working out and not breaking the bank. The personal trainer gave tips for trying to stay in shape on a budget and the best one was to hire a personal trainer…even though that sounds nuts. It really is such a great investment in your body. I’ve worked with 3 personal trainers over the years and I can tell you that during those times, I was in the best shape of my life. I had 14% body fat, wore sizes 0 and 2 (and still thought I was fat…sigh)…and you could bounce a quarter off my thighs (SUCH a far cry from where I am today…again, sigh)…but my point is this: I kept all of my trainer’s workout cards and to this day, I can remember all of my routines. I know how many sets and how many reps to do..and in which order to do them. I love it. Having not “worked out” (…although chasing around after a 2-year-old all day counts for something, right?) in a gym in a few years and not with a trainer in almost 6 (holy*&!!), I can tell you that I’m a little rusty, but I still feel so confident that I know the drill. That was one of my better investments over the years…one that keeps paying me. I can do those exercises here at the house with my 3lb dumbbells (cuz I don’t wanna look like a dude) …and I can walk around the block for cardio. Actually, I want a stationary bike real bad…I mean, I do live in Texas and it’s about 102 today…but I have to come up with a RM way of scoring it for super cheap or free. Anyone feeling charitable?  

When I take care of myself, I can take care of those around me and that’s what matters most.

Oh and nevermind on the stationary bike. While I was looking online just now, I saw a kit that turns your regular bike into a stationary one…

... now that's what I'm talkin' about...but it better be cheap.

... now that's what I'm talkin' about...but it better be cheap.

…and since I’ve used my regular bike all of ONE time (one of my not so smart $500 investments), I’m totally doing this. Unless anyone is feeling charitable, of course.

By Katy

Credit Crunching

Credit Crunching

How many people like doing expense reports? I am definitely not one of them. Luckily, I had just two expense reports to turn in for my current gig, and my boss told me to have my production assistant do them. But unlike the ones for work, I also had to fill out an expense report for a mentorship program I’m involved in.

Boy, did they add up!

When I looked at these expense reports, I realized that I charged everything onto my credit card! And when I looked at my credit card, I realized that I owed a HUGE amount of money. It’s not over $1000. But it is definitely high. And I know those two reimbursement checks won’t cover it all.

So what happened?

Now, normally, I like to operate on a cash basis. But this time, I used the credit card for my work-related and mentorship-related expenses because I thought that maybe it would buy me some time. I thought I wouldn’t have to pay off my expenses until my expense checks came in. Not use my own money for these expenses. Well you get it. Bad idea. For me. I think I’m one of those people that can’t be trusted with a credit card. Once I started charging for work and mentorship related expenses, I also started charging for regular life stuff — eating out, buying groceries, etc. Now, not only have I not received my reimbursement checks yet, I have to fork over even more money for other expenses. I can’t even remember what I charged!

I will, of course, pay this off.

I am a responsible adult, and I hate debt hanging over me as much as other people hate creepy crawly things that go bump in the night. But next time, I am going to use my cash or debit card so that when I receive my reimbursement checks, I can feel like I really got my money back.

{June 23, 2009}   What’s Going On?

by Katy

I don't really work behind a desk, and I hope I don't look like this man.

I don't really work behind a desk, and I hope I don't look like this man.

You may have noticed that we’re a bit MIA these days.  Well, I can’t speak for my other Recession Mamas, but for me, LIFE just got really, really busy lately.  I have been finishing up a show, and I’ve worked 12-15 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week.  I missed my cheap dad‘s Father’s Day dinner on Sunday because I had to go to work.  Fortunately, my dad doesn’t think I’m now the world’s worst daughter, but he did joke that I was working so much, I was probably making minimum wage.  Well, I did the math, and I’m not.  But you know what is so different about me today?  I’m not complaining AND no one is commiserating.  Instead, if I even mention that I’m working…everyone just says to me… “well, at least you’re working” or “it’s good to be working.”  And I completely agree.  I’m extremely grateful to have a job in this recession.  I love what I do.  I like the people I am working with and for (I know ending a sentence with a preposition…or dangling participles…or whatever it’s called.  I’m tired…what do you want from me?).  And at the end of the day, I am able to pay my mortgage and put food in my stomach.  Life is good.

{June 6, 2009}   Gone Fishin’

 By: Liz



I have decided that job searches are a lot like fishing. Not that I go out fishing a lot mind you. You’re out at sea alone with your thoughts… and you sit there patiently waiting for something (a prospective employer) to bite. You put the bait on the hook, you throw out your lines, and then… you wait… and wait, and wait some more. When you finally do get a bite, you than have to decide if that’s the kind of fish (job) you want? If the fish you spent all that time catching is big enough (paycheck) to feed your family dinner? For you to eat (live off of) in the future? Will there be any (bonuses) leftovers?  If you like it, you put it in the boat, take it home with you and you subsist off of it. Your fishing trip was a success. If not, you throw it back in (turn it down) leaving it for someone else to catch.

You’re throwing out all these lines day after day, month after month, and still what happens if you don’t get any bites? How do you catch the BIG FISH?


How do you even know if there is a nibble? If your bait (resume) is even eye catching enough to be seen by someone who can actually help you get hired? How do you change the bait when the bait is you? How do you get bigger or better or seem tastier to employers especially when all the things that make you different and help you to stand out are being taken away? Because the current process; build a profile, go to our website, and upload your resume leaves you no room for creativity at all. All you get is to cut and paste your resume into a box and send it into the internet sea if you’re lucky you get to add extra bait (a cover letter) in the hopes that it soon will be read.

 It’s like you threw bread into a coy pond. The fish fight, fight, fight over just one crumb. Plus, even though there are hundreds of thousands of people like myself out of work it feels seriously lonely in my boat.


I got to thinking about how your parents always said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Boy, when you become an adult do you realize just how finite finances really are. That no matter how much you have it never seems to be enough. Your parents weren’t really trying to deprive you of anything they were just trying to provide everything they could. There are just limits (credit card and otherwise) that you just can’t afford to max out. As a child you don’t have a concept of that? You don’t see that… because all you see is the Easy Bake Oven, or the Snoopy SnoCone Machine, or the new must have outfit of the moment… right in front of you. All you know is you’re not getting it.

 money tree

 What I have learned is that it’s actually more expensive to be out of work than it is to have a job. There are expenses that you just didn’t realize the cost of (health care, life insurance, medicine) or that you didn’t have before because your employer was paying for them, or you were, especially when you find out Cobra costs this single person $508.03 a month. When you don’t have a job or you have a part-time job how do you foot the bill for that… and any unexpected expenses.

At some point you may have to ask for help… it’s just a matter of whom you’ll ask?

j0387248CATCH 22

Yes, unemployment benefits are great. Applying for them makes me feel sad . When you don’t have a job… you don’t get to keep tons of pride… in fact you better be prepared to give a ton of it up.  Sucking up, brown nosing, kissing butt… Learn it, know it, perfect it. 42-15348570

There’s a lot of competition out there and companies know it. They will give the job to someone younger; someone they can train, with less experience and workplace expectations than you.  Read: Cheaper and less complicated.


It seems that companies and employers are holding all the cards right now. The perks are gone.   They expect you to take less money to work longer hours, accept more responsibility and handle more stress. Face time just got all the more important. Who knew looks meant so much and we’re not talking about actual physical beauty? Be seen. Be noticed. Be there and be unforgettable. Forget about more flexible schedules, or hours, even taking a vacation. Because the question becomes; will your job be there for you when you get back?


Because let me let you in on a little unemployment benefits secret. When you earn over $100 a week, working your part-time job to keep you in the black, they start docking your benefits. So you have to balance what you are gaining with the money you are now losing. Is it worth it? Yes and No. It depends on your current situation. What’s so strange and I don’t quite understand this, is how unemployment rewards you for not working? Isn’t that the point of the benefit in the first place? To get you out there and working full-time so you become a contributing member of society again? It’s a cycle, a really bad one. That becomes tougher to break, especially when it is easier to stay home, twiddle your thumbs, and do nothing because you earn more money.  How is that really helping put people back to work? 


{May 24, 2009}   Back to the Basics

–by Carla

Happy Sunday, everyone! Today’s guest writer is Lydia, a friend from way back. She was a teacher of mine at the University of North Texas. We always called her “Aunt Lydia” back then, mainly because she was young and cool just like we were. She likes to say, “One of my claims to fame is that I taught Carla everything she knows about studio television…. which may explain why she pursued a career in radio…” Ha! We stayed in touch a bit over the years and reconnected recently. I found out that she is a big fan of saving money (love her!) and is now a big fan of RM (love her more!). So here is “Aunt” Lydia, in her own words:

In Proverbs it says – “The debtor is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)  Anyone want to stand up and testify?  How many of us have felt like all we do is pay bills and wonder how we’ll do it again next month?  How many of us would like to know we have some money tucked away for a “rainy day”?  How many of you guys and gals have little ones that you’re worried about funding their college education? 

I love the RecessionMommas site, so in the spirit of cost cutting, I’m going to discuss some of the principles I learned from Dave Ramsey – the author of THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER and host of radio and television.  Dave’s advice is going to sound eerily familiar to those who actually listened to their grandparents on occasion. 

1. DON’T SPEND MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE.  Simple and to the point.  It also means we have to be mature (yikes!) enough to save up for something we want, not just run out and charge it.   

2. GET RID OF THE CREDIT CARDS – I know, I know!  For those of us who got our first credit card when we were in college, the thought of living without one sends a chill down our spines!  I have managed to cancel and cut up all but 2 of mine.  (One card gives me points!)  Seeing that when I started the “Dave Plan” I had about 8 cards, I have definitely made progress.  I pay them off each month, but that still goes against “the Dave Plan” because we do tend to spend more $$ when we charge things rather than forking over the cash. 

A side story (ADD kicking in) – I recently called Discover card to cancel my account with them.  They had sent me one of those lovely letters telling me they were raising my interest rate for no reason other than they wanted to.  So, I took the opportunity to sever my ties with them.  

When they transferred me to the correct department, the guy tried to talk me into staying with them.  No prob, it’s his job.  But, he keep warning me that my FICO score was going to drop, that I’d been a customer since 1988, since I pay off my card each month it really didn’t matter what the interest rate was… What finally got me laughing was when he said “We’ve had a very long relationship…”  I told him, “Relationship? It wasn’t like I was going to invite you to my wedding.” Ha! 

I tell you this story not only to amuse you, but to show you that the credit card companies will try to persuade you that the worse thing in the world is to cancel their card.  Always remember, these are the same companies that instantly slap you with late fees and jack up your interest rate if your payment arrives 1 minute after 12pm the day it’s due.  Relationship my big fat, errr, toe! 

  1. MAKE A BUDGET – it’s not as horrible as it sounds!  If you will plan your spending each month, you will spend less.  A quick way to get started (and to figure out where you are bleeding cash) is to write down everything you spend.  It’s shocking how much stopping at Starbucks, or my personal favorite, Dunkin Donuts, a few days a week actually costs!  Buy the coffee at the store and make it at home.  It saves lots of $$!


Dave Ramsey says to spend your money on paper before you spend it for real.  For those of us “free spirit” “creative” types, that can be a little hard to do.  Try drawing doodles in the margins to illustrate all the money you’re going to save by doing your budget. J 

4.  BECOME A WISE SAVER AND INVESTOR.  We all need an “emergency fund” in a savings account where we can get our hands on it.  You must be wise about your definition of an “emergency”.  Sorry ya’ll, but Nordstrom’s shoe sale IS NOT an emergency…. 

Investing can be a bit intimidating, at least it was for me…  I kept thinking, “If I screw this up, I’ll be eating dog food in my old age!”  However, we can’t let fear keep us from educating ourselves and just doing it.  Our biggest asset is TIME.  The younger we are when we start investing, the longer the magic of compound interest works for us.  For those of us who aren’t quite so young, it means we need to be even more intense. 

Ok, this is enough for now.  I will leave you with the SEVEN BABY STEPS that Dave Ramsey teaches – 

BABY STEP 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

BABY STEP 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball (see website for details)

BABY STEP 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

BABY STEP 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

BABY STEP 5 – College funding for children

BABY STEP 6 – Pay off home early

BABY STEP 7 – Build wealth and give!  Invest in mutual funds and real estate. 

For more info on Dave Ramsey, see 

BIG thanks to Lydia for being our guest writer today!

By Katy

Recently, a comment on a recent post was misinterpreted, and when I started to explain what I had meant, I ended up with writing almost an entire blog post. So I thought I’d share my discussion:

In a comment to Carla’s recent post, I wrote: “The recession is helping us all slow down!” And here’s what a reader wrote: Can’t say I agree with you on this. This is from my own person observation with friends and family: People who have lost jobs or had their salary cut back back up to 30% are now working TWO jobs to make ends meet. They have done away with conveniences such as the cleaning lady, yard guy, etc. and are doing that themselves, too, in additional to large number of additional hours worked. People that still have jobs are working long and harder than ever. Salaried folk are getting to work earlier, staying later, etc. all in hopes of keeping their job. Hourly people are working “off the clock” trying to keep their jobs. With layoffs, the people left at companies have had their duties increased beyond what they can physically do in one day and are totally stressed trying to get it all done. I know I haven’t slowed down. I’ve gone from a job that was manageable at 8-9 hours a day, to working 10-11 hrs a day and working at home after that and on weekends to boot.

Let me, first, digress for just a moment. I am not trying to “defend” what I said, or argue. We, Recession Mamas, love our readers! I am personally humbled when I meet friends or hear from total strangers that they’re reading this blog every day and that they can relate and are glad we’re trying to help each other out and tell our stories. I’m happy to hear a friend, recently, tell me that instead of being depressed or wallowing in this recession, this blog feels very “hopeful” to her. So this post is in no way going against what a reader wrote. I just want to make sure I’m conveying the idea that I believe that what this recession has taught ME, personally, is that love is important and that work should not define who I am.

So here’s what I started telling this dear reader (shortened and altered slightly):

I didn’t mean “slowing down” in terms of work. Believe me! I always seem to have two jobs, and even before this recession I’ve always worked long days. When I’m not working, I volunteer. In college, I had three jobs. For a long period in my younger life, I worked 7 days a week — Monday through Friday at a local TV station, and weekends, I worked at a local radio station. So, I would never be the one to say that we’re slowing down, in terms of work. What I really meant was slowing down and seeing our lives in a real way…that it isn’t all about money…that what really matters is love (or as the Beatles say)…”all we need is love.” In fact, my fiance and I thought we might fight MORE because of the pressures of not having two incomes, at certain times this year, but instead…we’ve gotten even closer. So, although I’m a practical girl who grew up with a Grandma that told me…Love doesn’t buy the bread…I slowed down just enough to see that love and support help get you through the tough times.

All You Need Is Love

"All You Need Is Love"

Let me now expound on that. Before this recession, I truly saw a lot of my relationship with my fiance, financially. I don’t think I really realized this, until the recession hit. I was always thinking about equality in our relationship, also in terms of how much we made, how much we contributed to paying for needs and wants, and thinking that whoever made more money should get the right to have more say in the relationship. It took this recession before I realized that this was all crazy! Oprah’s show, “Recession Proofing a Marriage,” started a provocative and stimulating discussion for us. Would a marriage survive if one person lost his or her job? For one couple on the show, it didn’t seem to be good news. After the husband lost his job, the wife moved out and took their child and her parents took her in. They also wanted her to get a divorce from the now “loser” husband who couldn’t provide for his family. The wife admitted that she expected her husband to be in the driver’s seat and always saw her role as passenger. Using this analogy, one blog reader asked if they were in a car and her husband had a serious injury or couldn’t drive anymore, would the wife just sit there and let the car crash and risk their lives? Or would she step up, take over the wheel, so that both of them could live? (I think this is worth mentioning because it’s how I feel about a good relationship.) So, after watching the show, my fiance and I were appalled at the woman and her parents! What?! Just because the husband lost his job, he also has to lose his wife and no longer be a father to his own child anymore? How and why does money define us so much?

When my fiance and I first started dating, he told me that his biggest fear was not being able to provide for his family. I think this is a big fear for a lot of men, but no one had ever said it out loud to me. While dating, money was never much of an issue. But when we decided to get married, we started talking about finances since it’s the #1 thing people argue about. We soon discovered, to my dismay, that we have extremely different financial situations and very different ways of handling our personal finances. We started to argue quite a bit over this “new” discovery because although I have never dreamt about the fairytale wedding, I HAVE dreamt about a better financial picture. Well, after the recession hit, and my “steady” gig of almost a year and a half ended (really long for television, I may add), I started to “slow down” and see my fiance in a radically different way. No longer did I see our relationship in terms of how much money we made. (And yes, it was partly because I was no longer bringing in any money besides unemployment.) He was the one who went to work every day, and I was very unproductive (for about two weeks, then before I got another gig, I decided to start volunteering.) But while I was out of work and unproductive, my fiance never once said to me…”Hey, sweetie…since you’re not working right now, do you think you could do more around the house?” Instead, when he came home after a very long day at work (usually 10-12 hour days), if I hadn’t made dinner, he would just roll up his sleeves and do it! He was supportive (told me everyday that I deserved a vacation after working so much in the last year or so), kind, uncomplaining (Well, he never really complains about much. I just had not noticed before.) All of a sudden, he turned into the man of my dreams, and I didn’t even know what those dreams were made of before! And although I used to be super cynical and agreed with my Grandmother that “Love doesn’t buy the bread.” I, now, see that Love may not buy the bread, but it definitely helps you to get through the hard times together. It also helps that I slowed down and really saw what I am grateful for…my health, my supportive family and friends and their good health, my loft (a roof over my head), nice and fun neighbors, no debt and a year’s worth of expenses saved so I can eat and sleep at night, and most importantly, a partner in life who makes me laugh and gives me love and support. I think he will make a wonderful provider for his future family, and I am so lucky he found me.

{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.

et cetera