My Husband Got Laid Off from His Job and We’re Thrilled
You’re probably not used to seeing the words thrilled and laid off in the same sentence.
But thrilled was our immediate reaction when my husband was let go from his job. Thank you financial independence.
Financial independence allows you to be happy (or ecstatic even) when a job loss comes. You can take the loss in stride. Take your time to decide if you want to get a similar job or try something new.
Or just screw the whole work thing.
Here’s how it went down
I came home from the gym and noticed my husband’s car in the garage, which was unusual for 10 AM on a weekday morning. As soon as I opened the door, he proclaimed those glorious words, “I’m retired.”
I stared at him for a moment, then asked him what happened.
The short answer, “I got called down to HR, saw who was in the room and knew what was coming. Within 20 minutes, I was in my car. A little stunned. But delighted.”
About six months ago, when we had reached a comfort level of financial independence, I joked that he should type up one word on a sheet of paper and keep the paper with him while he was at work. The word, thank you. He could quickly pull the paper out if he ever got laid off from the job.
Unfortunately, he didn’t take my suggestion. Oh how he missed an opportunity to make an unforgettable exit.
What went wrong (or what went exactly right for the financially prepared)
We moved to Canada seven years ago for a job opportunity for my husband. He had been recruited by a former colleague, who was now an executive at said company. My husband was naturally reluctant about the job because we weren’t thrilled about relocating all three kids to a new place, let alone a new country.
The interview process and negotiations took about six months. During this time, my husband talked to many employees of the company and we had many discussions about the pros and cons of accepting the offer.
His final decision to accept the job was the result of speaking with the then-Chief Operating Officer. The COO’s enthusiasm about the company, its potential and the role my husband would play to grow the organization made it difficult for my husband to turn down the opportunity.
And the pay was pretty good too.
Unfortunately, a few months after my husband started working, the layoffs began. Round after round of layoffs. The CEO was forced out by the board and the COO, whom my husband was fond of, became the new CEO.
Things went well for about 18 months. Then the tides turned again. More layoffs.
Then a new CEO was named. This time, the board decided to go with an outsider for the role.
And more layoffs. Still, my husband’s position was secure.
There were so few people left in the company that we joked that my husband’s new job was turning on and off the lights of the building.
The stressful years
The seemingly endless rounds of layoffs, which spanned several years, created a very anxious time for our family.
Of course, making it through all of the rounds of layoffs unscathed brought its own amount of worry.
The stress of being one of the only remaining employees was taking its toll on my husband. He was travelling over 100,000 miles a year and trying to do the work of the teams of people which had been let go.
The company was now a shell of its former self. The morale of the remaining employees plummeted.
It was clear my husband and the CEO had very different ideas on how the company should proceed. And it was clear who would win that standoff. Sooner or later, a change would come.
And finally, it did.
Our need for financial independence
Fortunately for us, somewhere around year two of the roller coaster of layoffs, we decided we could no longer stay on this crazy ride. We decided to take matters into our own hands. We had seen countless gifted employees be pushed to the curb with little regard.
And we were tired of letting his job control our destiny.
We decided to control the destiny of his job. In the only way we knew how, by becoming financially independent so that we could live without a paycheck and still maintain our standard of living. You know, the thing called FIRE (Financial Independence. Retire Early).
Fortunately, we were a lot closer to financial independence than we thought.
We had made some smart, and often lucky, choices years earlier.
Our path to financial independence
We started maxing out all of our retirement accounts early in our careers. We saved a large percentage of our incomes in non-tax-advantaged accounts.
We purchased a home, sold it, made money and repeated the process several times.
When I left full-time work to be a stay-at-home mom, we quickly adjusted to a single income. We cut expenses and still managed to save a significant portion of my husband’s take-home pay.
We owned a rental property for five years and invested the passive income.
We sent our kids to public schools. We opened 529 accounts for our kids’ educations.
We secured a pension from a previous employer. We had no control over this one, it just happened. Lucky for us!
My husband was well compensated at work. We saved enough money to pay off our home.
The current situation
I’m not going to lie and tell you that there haven’t been any sleepless nights since my husband lost his job. But I will tell you that we have been happier in the past few months, than anytime in the last seven years.
So far, early retirement has enabled my husband to start swimming at the local YMCA and lose 20 pounds.
There have been other benefits too.
My husband has been able to:
Reduce the number of stress headaches.
Renew his love of his hobby of airplane model building.
Spend more time with the family.
Tutor a couple of high school kids in math.
Rewatch Game of Thrones. To get prepared for the final season.
He’s also getting ready to start his first teaching gig at a local community college. He’ll be teaching one class for three hours a week. He had been looking into teaching as a side gig and the layoff came at the perfect time to secure a job for the summer semester.
The best news
My husband had been planning to quit in 2020. He was truly miserable at the company, for the aforementioned reasons.
But the company beat us to the punch and agreed to pay severance though his anticipated quit date.
The company, unwittingly, did us a huge favor! If only he had taken my advice and kept a thank you note with him during office hours.