I have been downsized. “Reduction in Work Force” was the actual term used, but downsized is as good a word as any. The downstream engineering nosedive has left me unemployed and it amounts to the same thing. It’s not any easy position to be in but I’m taking it as best I can. I just needed to figure out how to react to this new situation.
My reaction is to downsize my life. Yup – just jump on the slide and follow it down. I’m going to strip my life down to the bare essentials: the stuff I actually need, want and that make me happy. This may sound crunchy granola, though it’s really not. It’s smart, concise and makes sense. I’d done it before and it was freeing.
When I moved to London in 2012 I brought 5 suitcases with me. This was all the clothes and personal items that I felt I needed. I didn’t miss any of the things I’d left behind or sold off – not even my car. The only things back in the states I missed were the people, and the Internet helped to alleviate that a bit. But I didn’t miss the stuff.
Granted it was easier in London where a furnished room or apartment is the norm. All little sundries of living in a city were in the apartments already. One only needed their personal effects to move from place to place. It was nice – and moving was so much faster for the most part.
My time in London came to an end though and I returned to the states. On my return I made a mistake and went all “American” on things. I wanted space and things and comforts. The over sized apartment for one person. The car I used maybe once a week. The dining room set I have used all of once except as a laundry rack. The “home office” in the extra space I didn’t need. The comforts I stored away and never looked. The framed pictures I never bothered to hang – some still in the shipping box. And I had to pay for them all instead of living within my means with the stuff I only needed and putting money into savings.
This slump in my industry has been slow moving, like a sinkhole that gets just a bit bigger everyday until you realize it’s become a chasm. There were layoffs behind mine and I took steps months back to try and hold it off. Since last October I have been working part-time hours and taking in only 50% of my salary. My big mistake was not taking the steps I needed to THEN to reduce my lifestyle. So here I am now, taking in less than a quarter of what I was while working and my savings have already been tapped. Being a Pollyanna is not a way to deal with economic downturns.
Now I have to work with what I have – which ain’t much. There is car insurance, medical insurance, housing, food and storage for my stuff that won’t fit in a smaller place. Unemployment insurance does not pay enough for all of this. Something has to give.
STUFF loses in this scenario.
If I can’t pay rent, I’m homeless and I lose my stuff.
I need to eat in order to live. If I die I won’t need my stuff.
Without insurance I can get sick or worse and end up in a place where I lose my stuff.
With my reduced income I can see a lot of scenarios where my stuff is forfeit or a burden. If it all comes down to me needing to sacrifice to keep it and it could all be lost anyway, why not just sacrifice my stuff now. This way the extra money I would be paying to STORE it can go to the more important things in the first place. I also have no idea where I will end up in the next few months as I will probably need to go to where the work is, so why pay even more to MOVE the stuff?
So sell my stuff (again) I will, or donate it if I can’t find buyers. Its just stuff, it can all be gotten again if needed. Of course next time in a more controlled and non-debt creating way. I have already let go of some things and every item leaves with a bit of fear, sadness and regret. But there is also a sense of freedom. That sense of freedom gets stronger each time. And it’s just stuff.