Friday, 16 November 2012

How was it for you?

I went into a leisure wear and sports shop yesterday, no don't be shocked, it's not something I do out of habit I can assure you. There was a man standing outside in the precinct with a placard saying 80% off. Oooh that sounds good, a closing down sale trying to shift the last of it's stock before they finally close the door. This shop has had notices up in the window for several months now announcing it's impending demise, I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't a crafty marketing ploy to get the punters in. But no, it is definately closing.

Worth a look to see if there are any good quality walking boots in my size at a ridiculously low price, to replace my trusty £110 boots I bought at half price from the now closed Millets store. Seems like outdoor shops are closing at a rate of knots around here, shame because the only way to get perfect fitting boots is to try on at least 50 pairs, with an irrate assistant hovering over you making sure you put the boots back in the right boxes. Unfortunately there wasn't much stock left, the nearest I got to what I wanted was a pair of size 6 reduced to £20. Although I had thick socks on there was still movement between my foot and the boot, so no good, a recipe for blisters. The size 5 I tried on at £30 were too tight across the width of my foot, I need just enough room to accommodate my bunions, so another no. Ah well, no bother. I could have bought the £20 ones and put extra socks on, but I have plenty of boots which are ok for dog walks, all bought from car boot sales or charity shops for two or three pounds, I don't need any more boots for shorter walks.

Anyway I digress, let me get back to the point of this post. I got chatting to the assistant in the shop, a lady of about 40ish. Just making general chit chat I asked her when the shop was closing and would she be getting a decent redundancy package. Nosey I know, but I always feel concerned for the people who are losing their jobs, asking what are they going to do next. The lady looked quite forlorn, it must be difficult to keep up your moral when the comfort rug is being pulled from underneath you and you will be cast out onto the streets to fend for yourself. No more geting up to go to work in the morning, no more seeing familiar faces on a day to day basis, chatting with your workmates. No more money going into the bank at the end of the week. I really do feel sorry for those people who find themselves up the creek without a paddle.

The lady in the shop told me she didn't know how much she was going to get in the way of a payoff, probably not much she said. Although she has been working part time for a while due to bringing up a family, in the early days of starting with the company she was full time working all hours without any extra pay for overtime. She had basically given her all to her job. But now it was crunch time because apparently the company only has to pay redundancy according to her current part time status. To me that stinks, she gets no recognition for her years of full time dedicated service.

This lady is now worried for her future, as anyone would be in that situation. She vows to go and look for another job, willing to take anything, but the prospects of her finding something are pretty bleak in this area.

I think I am going to go back to the shop and give her a big hug. What I want to say to her is that losing your job is not the end of the world. It might seem like it is, in the beginning, the endless chasing up the benefits people to get what you are entitled to, watching your savings go down as you try and make ends meet, the hours wandering the streets wondering what to do with yourself. Then the reality months later that you may never find a job and this is it, the rest of your life mapped out for you as just another statistic.

I want to take this lady under my wing, and any other ladies which might be going through a similar crisis. I want to say to them there is Life After Money, that money can't buy happiness, that earning money is not the be all and end all. Just because you haven't a job you are not on the scrap heap, you just need to change your mindest, ok not all in one go it will take time. From the moment you stop earning a salary your role changes, you need to take stock of your situation. The first gut wrenching reaction when becoming unemployed is to panic, oh my God how am I going to manage? How do I pay for this and that bill. The hardest thing is seeing a light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

You have to sink pretty low before you can claw your way back up again, but it can be done. If you are a couple you need to sit down together and talk about it. When I lost my job I went through all the usual trauma of signing on and searching for a job, it wears you down, it makes you feel useless. In the end, I thought stuff it, I am not going to bother any more. Admittedly I wasn't far off retirement and I knew I would be getting the cushion of my pension, even though it wasn't going to be a life changing sum. So I limped towards my 60th birthday with very little money but with a sense of impending joy when at last I knew I was going to be free from the shackles of work, and I could relax and be me. Stuff the job centre, stuff work, I ain't doing any more.

But younger people who lose their jobs still have many more years to go before they retire, like the lady in the shop. For them it must be devastating. There is no quick and easy answer to their dilema, everyone will have their own adgenda and be looking for their own solutions to their problems. What I can say are my general thoughts which people can take or leave, it's how I see it. You will have to look inside yourself for answers. You may have to change your priorities, you will definately have to change your mindset. It is up to you if you want to slowly sink into the abyss, or claw your way out of it. If you are struggling don't struggle alone. Talk to friends, talk to relations, seek help from groups, claim the benefits you are entitled to, or even pick up the phone and talk to the Samaritans if you need to. Just do it.

I know you won't believe me when I say the end of work is not the end of life, it is just the beginning. The beginning of new challenges, the beginning of total control over what you do and when you do it. I know you won't see it that way at first because your mindset tells you that you need money to enjoy yourself, but believe me, it just isn't true.

Please feel free to write your experiences here on how you survived redundancy. It might help someone. If there are some interesting and inspirational stories, include the downs as well as the ups, I will copy and paste them into a seperate page and post it above as a stand alone page. If you prefer to post your comment as anonymous please do so.
Thank you. Lots of love, Ilona xxx 


  1. After 35 years of marriage (which I now realise was a pretty miserable experience) and working what seemed like every waking hour chasing the money to buy the things my ex-wife thought were essential (which I now realise was even more miserable), Ex decided she preferred the single lifestyle.
    Since we had a daughter aged 12 at the time, she was a warded the house (19 years 11 months paid off 20 year endowment mortgage) together with all furniture and liquid assets. I got all the debts (credit cards used for our joint purchases like new cars, expensive restaurant meals and exotic holidays) and was allowed to keep my pension (paid for by me and since de-valuing just about daily)
    I also got 5 black plastic bags of my personal possessions after she'd sifted through them.

    So I was 55, homeless, moneyless, jobless (I worked from home and wasn't allowed back in) but not debtless. Ex also did her best to turn our daughter and 2 sons against me, as well as our friends.
    Very distressing at the time, I was under the doctor for 12 months suffering from depression, not a very nice thing.

    I was very lucky to meet a lady (now my wife) who had been through a similar situation so we related to each other very well, and I moved in with her.
    I went through the Job Centre mill, after 25 years self-employed at 57, nobody really wants to know you.
    Then my mother died after 3 years in a care home, so although I inherited a 3-bed house (which I'd already paid for, I bought her council house for her) it had to be sold to pay the care home their fees.
    Then my new wife developed spondylytis, a debilitating form of arthritis of the spine and needed a wheelchair. That started another 2 year saga with the benefits system involving numerous medicals and tribunals, and because they didn't accept she was incapable of work, they didn't accept the need for me to be a carer, and we were denied so many spin-off perks.
    We survived on pennies for a long time, and still don't have much money, but at least the system now accepts she can't work and I have responsibility as her carer, so we're spared the fortnightly interrogation at the Job Centre.

    Strange it may seem, but we're very happy now. I've learned to live with very little money and acquired a lot of new household skills like cooking, baking, preserving, wine-making, brewing, etc, and learned to shop for best value (yellow stickers). We even have a TV, which we did without for 4 years. I've also got rid of my 60-80 a day cigarette and serious drinking habits.

    So what was at first devastating has actually worked out well in the end.

    I hope my ex is as happy with her new boyfriend.

    1. What a trooper you are. Benefits can be a nightmare so well done for finally getting what you and your wife deserve,
      Good luck to both of you
      (and great post Ilona!)

    2. Hi cumbrian. Thank you for posting your story, it is very moving and I am sure it will give inspiration to anyone facing uncertainties in their own lives. I am pleased that you have managed to put your life back together again. Best wishes to you and your wife.

    3. Thanks for comments.

      Ruth, after almost 40 years solid contributions into the system by me and 30-odd by my wife, we thought the powers-that-be would recognise that we really did need assistance, but it seems not; after 2 years battling through a mountain of paperwork, medical examinations and tribunals, I now understand why a lot of genuine claimants feel like throwing the towel in and just giving up.

      Meanqueen, I didn't realise my story was so moving, the old saying "It never rains but it pours" just seemed so appropriate. But a couple of years struggling to pay essential bills and getting by with next to nothing has made us appreciate how lucky we are; and how little we really need.

      I hope the lady from the shop (and probably a lot of others in the same situation) can somehow come to terms with their new and different circumstances.

  2. I am being made redundant due to Comet going out of business. You are right it is very frightening, even though I am lucky enough to have a husband with a good job.

    The best thing we have done so far is look at our monthly spend and take out all the things which we could easily give up or go with out. You will be surprised how much you pay for which really means nothing to you.

    So I am using this as an oppertunity to change my priorities. I look around and realise how rich I am, I have a wonderful loving husband, four beautiful crazy cats and we are all healthy. And do any of those things come from money? No.

    It has also made me realise I want to be the driving force behind my life, not money and not my employer. Time for a change.

    Thanks for your blog Ilona, it makes me see things in a new light.

    1. Theresa, I am with you every step of the way. I applaud your resolve to get on with your life whatever happens to your job. You and your husband will make a great team. You already have what is needed for a happy life.

  3. You made me shed a few tears for that woman. An injury on the job in the States means you have signed your resignation. Only, they will make your life miserable until you quit or they can fire you, denying you all unemployment!Ask me how I know. The injury was so bad that I could not find another job and they denied me medical care, saying I was malingering. An MRI proved I was not faking. And, this was just a Christmas job!!!

    I almost lost my house and car, filed for bankruptcy, Chapter 11, the kind where you repay everything you owe. I was able to put my house and car into the program, paying them both off two years after they were due to be paid off.

    I limped into job interviews, qualified to fill two jobs as head of departments in colleges. I think 400 people applied for one job and only five of us were interviewed--the only five qualified. Limping into any interview is bad. But, the two women who got the jobs were so much more qualified than I.

    I substitued in schools and did private tutoring until I could not stand or sit all day. A friend helped me out until I decided to apply for Social Security retirement. Then, I gave up and applied for disability.

    Thankfully, I was already the frugal type. It is rough. I take advantage of all deals, coupons, Senior discounts, and freebies. My daughter always bought me tickets to the theatre. No more since she divorced and struggles.

    You can buy the boots and have them stretched in the places they bind. It works. You can also buy liquid to put on your leather shoes. OR, you can use alcohol. You put the liquid on the shoes/boots and wear them to stretch them. Or, you can put the liquid on the shoes ad put them on a shoe stretcher.

    1. Hi PP. Reading your comments I can tell you have not had it easy over the years. Your strength of character has been your rock. A woman of substance you definately are.

  4. A very touching and inspiring post, Ilona.

    I have no story to add, luckily. But hope those who do find strength from your blog.

  5. it's so true there are always ppeople a lot worse off than you and you should be grateful for what you have.......excellent post and comments.

    Gill in Canada

  6. We used all our savings when hubby lost his job,then had to borrow to keep afloat while he retrained (at our own expense). The field he was in was overtaken by new technology so he HAD to retrain. We are still working our way back but we'll get there.
    Jane x

  7. I gave up work to look after my disabled Hubby. we jumped through hoops for the DWP and they left us with no income for 3 months. We were about to have our council house re-possessed and had about 10p left in the kitty when our benefits came through but it was quickly eaten up with the things we hadnt paid whilst struggling. 4 years on we have an agreement with a debt management charity which stopped all the nasty letters and threatening phone calls. We live very simply and pinch the pennies till they squeak. I have lots and lots of craft stuff stashed so keep busy making for me and mine and charity.

    Last year our benefits were stopped for 4 months with no explanation then just resumed again with a back payment which again was quickly eaten up. After 3 nervous breakdowns and finding out he has cancer my lovely Hubby is a shadow of his former self, detests the post arriving and regularly collapses into a heap. All this in an ex soldier, who worked all his life in the building trade is very distressing to see.

    I will not be beaten, I will not give up but it still upsets me to hear of others going through hell and I spend a lot of time on Money saving expert picking up tips - the internet is really my only outlet as we are housebound mostly. I love to read your blog Iilona it inspires me daily and its good to read of some one who like me will not be beaten but accepts every day as it comes and makes the best of it.

    I care deeply about the people I meet online and gain strength from those with grace and compassion like you hugs Ginny

    1. Big hugs to you both

      Midlands Annie

    2. Such a lovely and inspiring coment Vixen, thank you for posting.

  8. My heart goes out to people who are made redundant, particularly at this time of year. My friend's husband has recently been made redundant and are surviving on a part time wage, as our income has dramatically reduced we talk a lot about money. And actually it's always quite positive, a few frustrations but never any self pity.

    My biggest advice to anyone going through this would be to talk to partners, children, parents, friends and people who care. It's amazing how innovative people can be when the chips are down, they pull together and support each other. Sometimes it's the small things that make the big difference. Have a strategy and keep talking and re-assessing every budget. Sort out needs from wants, sell things that aren't necessary, be prepared to make different choices re-groceries. Put the word out - free things welcome. Definitely don't ever feel guilty for saying no, or ashamed of not having certain things. Most people at some point in their lives have had some financial difficulties and understand. Those that don't aren't worth worrying about.

    Finally don't be tempted to get a payday loan or get into any kind of debt in a hope of a temporary fix. It rarely turns out well. I have finally got my act together and have now accumulated an emergency fund. I still have debts I could pay with this, but if the worst happened I need to know that I have a bought myself a few months to get back on my feet. I know it's not easy, but if you have a few pounds left over at the end of the month put it to one side not to be touched on pain of death!

    Best wishes

    1. Rosie, keep on doing what you are doing. As for Payday loans, bah humbug, they should be wiped off the face of the earth and replaced with good solid advice on how to manage with what you have.

  9. I hope the 40yr old lady will not be treated as I was and still am sometimes...Your lazy, go out and get a job, you are bringing no money in so get out. why don't you find somewhere else to live. All you do is sit on your *** all day.

    It is enough to make you cry... never mind you have been married 30 years and adult working children still live at home.

    Yes, got made redundant, shops closing down all the time.
    I think they forget who puts the washing machine on every day, tidies up as much as you can with a house that is over flowing with stuff. Dinner cooked and washed up every day.

    YES, it is hard. Tried the social and all I got was you cannot have any money as your husband can keep you!
    I have been for interviews, but as you get older, they pick younger staff that are more in tune with technology.

    It is hard watching your children go on trips, get new clothes, by a laptop or phone instantly wile at the same time should I dare say I need something = I am not giving you any money!
    They forget all the things you sacrifice to pay for when they are growing up. School trips, clubs and clothes and toys....

    Oh yes, I am treading the boards of living with no money.

    Some good living experiences on here today.

    Sending good wishes to every one.

    1. Perhaps you should sit on the sofa all day and when they all return from work to no dinner, no clean clothes, no clean china, cutlery etc and an untidy house present them with a wage claim, and a bill for back pay with compound interest. I am not heartless but there is no such thing as a free meal, if your children are earning they should be paying their way if they will not show them the local paper with rooms to rent. My daughter works long hours and has a horrendous commute but she still finds time to help in the house and she does the ironing, my nemesis, she truly appreciates all that she has at home.

    2. Hi Anon, I see some underlying issues here which really need resolving. Untill you address what is really going on, you will struggle to find happiness. If people are speaking to you in a derogatory fashion in your own home, maybe you need to think about whether you really want to be there. You can't change how people behave, but you can change how you deal with it.

  10. Dear Ilona, what a kind empathetic human being you are

  11. I fully agree with you Ilona, I was in my nearest Laura Ashley shop today, their lining material is very cheap and top quality, they are closing and none of the staff have found jobs, it is a never a good time to lose a job.

  12. I was reading today about Jose Mujica who is the President of Uruguay.
    He gives 90% of his salary to charity.
    This is what he says.

    'I'm called 'the poorest president', but I don't feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more,' he says.

    'This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself,' he says.
    'I may appear to be an eccentric old man... But this is a free choice.'

    When I read it I thought "Is Ilona the President of Uruguay?" :-)

    (Obviously I know you're not a man but you know what I mean. I hope.)

    Complete story here:


  13. I read an article recently that pointed out that all Africans know from childhood how to live at subsistance level.
    If everyone was encouraged to put an amount away each week in savings, no matter how small, the bad times would nt be quite as bad.
    Hope your lady finds some work eventually - I reckon it takes all day and everyday to search for a job.
    The economy here in the States has been showing a bit of recovery but Europe still seems to be down in the dumps.
    Also I agree with Pam about Anonymous - I would not wait on a bunch of adult children, you cant blame other people if you let them walk all over you ? Time to get tough, A !!

  14. My daughter is 20 and there is only part time work available where we live, she works approximately 12 hours a week which doesn't bring in a lot on minimum wage. Yesterday she came home upset that her colleagues had been given extra hours but she wasn't offered any. My heart broke for her as she was so upset. I took her aside and told her that she is wealthy in other ways; that she has a boyfriend and a family who love her, food in the cupboard, a warm dry loving home and fabulous friends. She has applied to volunteer at our local hospital as she's fab with elderly people and with children so hopefully she will start that in January. I've also persuaded her to talk to her boss about how it's upset her. At her age I had a full time job and I think it's dreadful that there is so little full time work around now for anybody of any age. I agree with other posters Ilona that your blog helps everyone to not be frightened by redundancy, look upon it as a challenge to make some changes and live life in maybe a different way. Lizzie-Tish

    1. It is so sad that young people are struggling to get a foot on the work ladder. All we can do is offer our support. Good luck to your daughter, I hope she finds something.

  15. Great post, awesome comments. My heart goes out to those affected by redundancy. My husband was put on to 2 days per week last year and then 'on call' in April this year, has had hardly any work since. We are very fortunate that I am still working, part time, but we manage on my wages, and we do live a fairly simple frugal life. all the best to those people looking for work xx

  16. Ilona you're talking from a position of being retired and having enough (by being frugal) to pay your bills and do what you want to do.
    Haven't you considered that the woman may have several children dependant on her, a mortgage to pay, be in debt etc. etc. Yes there are benefits to be claimed but haven't you heard about all those who are losing their houses because they're being repossessed? Because those benefits don't pay a mortgage or pay off debts?
    You may be sympathetic but you're also being patronising.

    1. What!!! I think you need to re read what ilhona wrote.

    2. Of course she is writing from her own perspective as that is all she can write from. It does not mean she is not empathetic to this ladies problems.

    3. Evelyn, I find your comments patronising. I am not stupid, I know what is going on out there. Just because I am not in the position of losing my job or my home, doesn't mean I do not feel sorry for people. I suppose you would say I was patronising when I gave up my time to help out in a Christmas shelter for the homeless a few years ago, simply because I have a roof over my head.

  17. You are too kind to think of someone else; a complete stranger.Great blog as usual and give us all time to reflect and think. Till tomorrow. Dianne - Hereford

  18. My advice for that unfortunate lady would be find out exacly what you are entitled to, both from your ex-employer and the government benefits. It might be more than she thinks when you consider a lot of bills are cheaper if you are unemployed (council tax, dentists, even some utility bills!). Secondly, update her CV and apply to anything and everything. Companies will be needing extra staff over Christmas (although it might be a bit late to apply to most big stores by now). Earning £100-£200 a week doing crappy minimum wage jobs is still better than ~£60 a week on the dole.

    Whilst she is doing that, she can also take time to think what she would really like to do. Keep working at the crap job, but send applications out for jobs you'd really like too. Eventually she will find something worthwhile.

    Yes, it is tough to find a job in the recession (believe me, I know), but there ARE jobs out there.

  19. Greetings from the USA: My husband was let go the week of Christmas 2010. We knew it was coming eventually, so we tried to make a plan. As all plans, you can never be totally prepared. We saved, we borrowed from our retirement, we got unemployment money. We sold all of our extra stuff, we moved to a smaller home,(624 sq. ft.), and we started over. It's two years now, and we've finally both come to terms with it. Life is better for us; less stress, by far. We've made new friends, we've gotten jobs outside our fields and we're doing great! We wouldn't trade it for anything. The only downside is that we're so far from our children, but that just means that our 'vacations' will be spent going to visit them.(Free rooms!)
    You're all right; it's a mind set. Make up your mind that things will be okay and work toward that goal. It's nice if you have a sounding board, partner, someone to talk it over with.
    Blessings to the woman in the shop. She's had a bit of a 'head's up', so let's hope she's looking for something while she's still got her job.
    Great post, Ilona! Love your blog!

  20. In reading these stories I found it wonderful that so many people have a place like your blog to come and be made to feel hope and vitality. Your's is a safe place and your outlook and lifestyle a wonderful example.


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