Laid off Today-asking for advice

aekekkJuly 15, 2011

Well, my husband was laid off today. He'll be joining the ranks of over 50 and unemployed. We know that in today's economy, this won't be an easy road. The company was acquired by another on July 1st and hundreds were given notice this week-small consolation that he's not alone.

I'm self-employed so without health benefits. Any advice that I could get from others who have been through this would be appreciated. What should we do first? I'm making out a new bare bones budget, cutting expenses etc. We have an emergency fund (hope it's enough), no credit card debt, but we do have a mortgage and car payment. Advice and encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks in advance

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Any of the "help books" will tell you that you should spend as much time looking for a new job as you did working at the old one. In some cases, it make take weeks or months to find a new job. Your husband may be eligible for government funded training. Check with your local unemployment office.

On the bright side, there is always work available those who don't mind getting their hands dirty and sweating a bit. The fortunate reality is that there are always folks out there who are unwilling or unable to perform a task. Just look on Craigslist under "gigs". Plenty of people who want their yard mowed, leaves raked, basement cleaned, or bushes planted. Maybe a c-note a day won't pay the mortgage but it will go a long way to putting dinner on the table.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 2:02AM
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Thanks for the response Mike. My husband is a software consultant, but not averse to any work. First, he'll stick with putting a huge effort into finding a job in his field-he's used to working 60 hours a week anyway. I'm sure it will take him months to find a job though. I am self-employed and word full time in the education field. Not having benefits will be an issue so health insurance is at the top of the list

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 1:33PM
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While he is looking for work, your husband may want to post his services on Craigs List. A lot of people get stuck with a computer problem (at home) and need someone they can call to diagnose the problem. I know it is a far cry from what your husband was doing, but it will be better than mowing lawns.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 2:26PM
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Volunteer as well. This increases networking opportunities and your husband may end up doing new IT work for them, which could also increase his skills/add to his resume.

You know the have to live lean.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 7:30AM
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This may be obvious to you, but many people don't "get it", so I'll state it anyway.

Treat this like an emergency. Even if you have no debt, an emergency fund, and good prospects - you need to act quickly and decisively. That is usually the difference between a layoff being just a bump in the road vs an economic disaster. You need to make whatever changes you can to keep your money from gushing out the door. You might be thinking small things, but you should also consider big things as well - like the car. Is it worth enough to sell and buy a cheaper one until the situation stabilizes?

For insurance, if you guys are in decent health, you can look at a high deductible policy vs COBRA.

Anyway, best of luck and stick together. Layoffs can be very stressful even if you planned well. Make a plan for the financial side of things and then cut each other some slack on the emotional side. It is completely normal to experience fear, anger, resentment etc and many people lash out when they feel out of control. Anything you can do to keep those flashes of frustration from escalating will greatly improve your quality of life through this ordeal.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 8:50AM
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aekekk, you say your husband is a software consultant. What is his area of expertise. What are of the country do you live in? The IT market is really not all that bad right now. With the right skillset something should might come up quicker than you think. Make sure he gets his name out to many of the consulting companies in your area so they can get him placed.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 9:18AM
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Thanks so much for continued advice.
billl; such good advice-we are treating this as an emergency. It's complicated because he is on a work assignment out of the country for 2 weeks (Middle East) and got a phone call from his boss that he was being laid off when he returns at the end of this week. We are trying to do the emergency planning over Skype and email-not an ideal situation-along with an 8 hour time difference.Hard to deal with emotions over the Internet. Looking forward to him coming home. I'm checking now about the COBRA vs high deductible. But we both have a few health issues.

We recently (4 months ago) got rid of a 15 year old car on its last legs and purchased a "new" 2006 Toyota. The other car is paid for. Neither cars are gas guzzlers and are very reliable. And we put a lot down on the used car so it's a small loan.

We've never been extravagant, but I can easily cut down on some expenses

Colorcrazy: he doesn't fix computers. He installs software-different skill set. I've fixed computers before-actually built my own computer a few years ago LOL

jmc01: great idea for volunteering. That should help with networking and keep him busy. He can't sit around-that's not him. when he wasn't traveling so much with business he used to always volunteer, but he hasn't had the time.

kmg67: we live in the Northeast. He does software implementation mostly for healthcare, ironically.(a company similar to SAP and Oracle) He's already started emailing contacts, again complicated because he's still out of the country.

All we hear is how bad the job outlook and economy are right now. This just scares me so much. I hope this is a bump in the road and not a financial disaster. We've worked so hard to save and plan. I hope you're right that IT isn't as bad.
Any other words of advice or encouragement are so appreciated

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 10:54PM
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aekekk - SAP/Oracle are and always have been very good IT skills to have. I wish I had those! Anyway, as long as he is open to a little travel if nothing comes up locally, I think it won't be too difficult for him to find something. I wouldn't be to worried about his age - indicates he probably has lots of experience which for SAP is a real plus.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 9:11AM
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My DH is with Ciber, and they have a pretty large healthcare vertical. DH found them when he was laid off a few years ago. Ciber tends to advertise for individual consulting jobs, but does actually hire people, too. When DH found a job he fit that they were advertising, he applied and did a phone interview. Turned out that the customer they were hiring for was dragging its feet, and never gave Ciber the okay to hire. While DH was looking elsewhere, he found a job in Nashville that was okay for him. The day before he flew out to the interview in Nashville, he called the guy he had been talking to about the Ciber job and told him he was going to this interview. That guy contacted the Ciber office near us, and they had an immediate opening. They interviewed DH that day and hired him two hours later.

I guess the lesson is to network, network, and network. Keep any recruiters apprised of your plans if they seem to be interested but just have not been able to offer a job yet. DH did spend most of the day every day doing his job search. He was too anxious to have any fun during the 7 months he was not working.

Other older workers have told me that they had to dye their gray hair and beards in order to appear younger. If your DH is not already on LinkedIn, Dice, Indeed, Monster,com, Career Builder, and the like, get going with these sites. Be comfortable with online job hunting! Don't be afraid to look out-of-town if you do not find a local job right away.

I hope that all goes well for the two of you!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 11:47PM
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I've been told by project mgmt folks that one looking for a job should be looking at GE. They have alot going in project mgmt.

Your husband should absolutely look at consulting - use, or others like them. Many IT jobs now are contract to hire. The job market, in the Midwest at least, is MUCH better now than it was 6 months ago. We're at the time of year/the budget cycle that a company HAS to spend what was budgeted for 2011 or they lose it in the budgeting process for 2011.

I hope your husband has a current resume. If not, get it going asap.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 6:18AM
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Here's an IT consulting job that just popped in my email box from my alma mater today. So they're out there!

Senior Functional Consultant
Company: MCA Solutions
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Contact Name: Human Resources (Human Resources)
Phone: (215) 717-2180

MCA Solutions is seeking a Functional Consultant with a minimum of 5 years consulting experience implementing packaged applications. Successful candidates will have strong functional knowledge of Supply Chain Management, specifically inventory planning and optimization, must be comfortable with MS Office and Access, as well as Oracle and SQL. Extensive travel is typical.

The primary job responsibilities include solution requirements gathering, system configuration, user training and acceptance test support for the MCA application software for service parts planning (inventory forecasting, planning, and optimization).

You will be joining a knowledgeable and highly educated workforce, enjoying the benefit of intellectually stimulating work. You will be exposed to a number of industries including High Tech, Medical Equipment, Industrial Equipment, and Aerospace and Defense.

Primary Job Duties/Responsibilities:
� Consult with customers & partners providing the in-depth functional knowledge and guidance assisting them in designing, building and optimizing their MCA Solutions Service Parts Optimization solution. Provide thought leadership in solution and business process design and integration
� Author Functional Requirements\Solution Design documents and whitepapers
� In conjunction with colleagues and clients, ensuring that solution requirements are satisfied through successful implementation and execution of the solution plan
� Provide guidance to client team on data model development and manipulation
� While onsite, provide weekly status updates to the MCA Solutions Project Manager and Services Management on project progress with escalation of application integration issues as appropriate
� Liaison between Services and Product Management team providing field feedback to the R&D group and providing communication and training on new enhancements out to the field
� Proactive sharing and maintenance of the knowledge repository for the SPO Solution. Incorporate best practices into reusable deliverables to promote continuous improvements in client implementations
� Perform weekly mandatory administrative duties on time, including Time & Expense, Status Reports and active participation within internal Team Meetings.
� Support selective pre-sales engagement by evaluating functional requirements, providing guidance on the development of pilot data models, and responding to RFPs

� Bachelor�s degree in Computer Science, Industrial Engineering or Operations Research, minimum. Master degree preferred
� Exposure to modeling, operations research, inventory theory and logistics would be preferable

� 3+ years Supply chain management experience
� 5+ years of IT systems / package application implementation consulting experience

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
� Supply Chain Management/Planning solution experience, preferably in Service parts/spare parts planning solutions
� Strong background in Forecasting and Inventory Management
� Prior experience in defining, designing, configuring, and supporting large-scale, high-volume planning systems
� Ability to articulate customer requirements and translate those requirements in Solution configurations
� Industry experience in one or more of the following: Aerospace and Defense, High-Tech, Medical Equipment, Industrial products
� Ability to train project team members and end users
� Ability to understand physical & logical data models
� Testing experience / problem resolution / strong service/spare part data knowledge
� Strong analytical and problem solving skills ��" open to the ideas of others
� Self-starter with the ability to multi-task
� A customer service focus - excellent verbal and written communication skills.
� Ability to work independently or within a team
� Proven ability to perform consulting for tier-1 customers
� Must be able to travel up to 80%, travel will vary by project
� Must be US Citizen or permanent resident
Closing Date: Open Until Filled

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:54PM
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Nancy_in_mich: Thanks for info about the path your husband took with Ciber. I talked with my husband this afternoon before I read your post and he talked about Ciber as a possibility.

Although he's still working in the Middle East on a job assignment till Thursday night (home on Friday and then laid off, He had a phone interview today through his immediate networking. He said it went well and expects a follow-up on Friday afternoon. He comes home Friday morning after a 16 hour flight. He's been working at the client till 7:00 p.m. and since he found out about the layoff last Friday, he's been constantly networking. Because of the 8 hour time difference, it works in his favor to network till midnight his time. he says he's exhausted but he wants to be very proactive.

Weedyacres: Thanks so much. I'm forwarding on the job posting! Any positions-send this way!

jmc01: GE is now on the list of possibilities. He'll network to find someone who knows someone there.

Thanks to everyone for the optimism concerning the job market. And for someone who asked before--Yes, my husband has no problem traveling. He now travels about 40-45 weeks/yr-usually out Sunday night and back Thursday night when he works domestically. It's the nature of the job.
He just wants to keep doing what he loves and knows best.

Now we need to think about Rollover with our 401-K. Something else to work on when he comes home this weekend. Oh, and wrapping up our Flexible Spending Account. He loses his laptop and Blackberry this week too.

Any more advice...or jobs? Thanks to everyone

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Don't forget the Federal government. They are still hiring. Veterans Affairs hired 700 IT programmers this year. I think there are still some positions left. My husband used to be a contractor. One advantage is that contractors have a bigger network. Your husband should call everyone he knows after he gets home. In his current job, my husband actually knew one of the people who conducted the interview.

As for the grey; grey sides look "distinguished" on men. It's women who can't let their hair go grey. Double standard still exists.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Is he getting severance? Some states allow you to receive unemployment while you are receiving severance. Will he be receiving any type of outplacement services? If he has been awhile since he has looked for a job, he will need to rewrite his resume to reflect the new resume formats. The outplacement services will teach him the new rules of finding a job. Many state re-employment centers can also assist with this. As others have mentioned, he will need to post his resume on the major job boards.

Networking is very important. If he isn't already on Linked In, he needs to setup a profile there asap and start reaching out to people he knew from previous jobs.

Many IT jobs are either contract to hire, or straight contract jobs now. The straight contract jobs generally have no paid benefits so keep that in mind.

Depending on his age and your financial state, don't be so quick to roll over the 401K. If he is or will be 55 or older in 2011, if needed you can take hardship withdrawals from your 401K before 59 1/2 without the 10% penalty. That is not the case for an IRA.

Best of luck with the job search. I was laid off in Jan and will be starting an IT contract job next week.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:05AM
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Thanks katsmah: Apparently he is going to get some severance, but the co. won't tell him until tomorrow-something about signing something first.

I checked our state's unemployment faq's and he can't collect till the severance finishes up. Yes, he is eligible for outplacement services but I don't know what that entails.He is on linked in.

his company was sold to another on July 1st and his company's plan is no longer valid after today!? Too much to do...We're 57 years old BTW.

I guess if he takes a contract job, we'll make due with Cobra for up to 18 months. Health ins would be $1,000 +/month. We would still need disability and life insurance, too.

Congrats on your job next week! I continue to think positive thoughts. We still have many unknowns. At least he's on a flight home now and we can start the process tomorrow. After we celebrate his birthday with a home cooked meal!

Any other considerations that we need to think of?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:14PM
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Couple of things to check into--I am in ND and the oil drilling is out of sight!!!! In the Williston area, no housing, but looking for computer people--I do not know what kind, in fact the entire state needs help in everything, especially with the flooding we just had.
Also check into the medical fields. Many of the hospitals/medical centers etc are just going into the computer fields--that is where a patients records are on the computer so all those in that medical center have access to the information. Great help, especially if a person has to go to the emergency room.
As to medical, check with AARP--not sure what it covers etc. Also check with your state insurance agency--some states have programs that do cover you if you are low income, out of work or have no insurance. I know that ND has some type of program. Good luck
PS. The college in Williston ND is setting up courses for the people to get degrees in techinical skills. Does he have any sorts of college degree that he could be certified to teach??

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Big article in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch last Sunday about the many many jobs available for those with IT skills in the area -- and the lack of skilled applicants --and mentioning some of the companies and placement firms looking for help. You should be able to see the article online.

BTW, my brother, also in IT and former VP of large healthcare IT provider, found that he need to cover the gray when he was only 45 to land a new position. Recruiters definitely have a youth prejudice.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:53PM
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marie-ndcal: DH expects a position with 90-100% travel but it might be difficult for us to pick up and move to ND as I am self-employed as an educational consultant here in New England and I have a solid client base. Although, ND does sound great. I had no idea there were so many jobs there!I did not know bout the oil drilling either. He isn't certified to teach, but I have 2 teaching degrees/certifications.

I'm checking AARP now.

Since he got home from the Middle East on Friday, he's had 2 phone interviews with two different companies. They both seem interested but who knows...

raee- I'm accessing the Columbus Dispatch for the article. I'll talk to my husband about the cover the gray deal, but he is blonde with a touch of gray so I think it looks OK. At least he still has his hair!

He's working with an outplacement company tomorrow to tighten his resume. We still haven't got his severance package info yet but we heard it has non-compete clause. Should we have an employment lawyer look at it when it comes? I don't want that to impact his future employment!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Yes, you should have an employment lawyer look at it!!! No matter what, the severance paperwork is written from the standpoint of what's good for the company, not from your husband's standpoint.

Don't be afraid to negotiate on the severance package as well.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 3:24AM
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Healthcare IT is one of the hottest job markets out there right now. I work in this field and it's difficult to find enough qualified employees across vendors, consulting firms and healthcare organizations. I think people with clinical expertise and technical aptitude are in greater demand than pure technicians but if your DH has expertise in EMR software implementation and is willing to travel 90-100% both domestically and internationally he shouldn't have a problem getting a job.

My DH has experienced several layoffs. In fact it seems to be becoming a chronic situation - every time the economy tanks. He's in industrical manufacturing sales and marketing - a much tougher industry in terms of the job market. Twice now he has taken a job out of state and set up a man cave apartment there and I've stayed put. Fortunately for us I'm in healthcare IT and have what seems to be a secure job so I'm not about to quit and relocate for his work.

The first time it happened it was quite a shock. However it caused us to position ourselves so that we could live on one income and we've pretty much continued to keep it that way ever since. So when he does work we save most of what he makes for retirement. Now I just think the more he works the sooner we can be prepared to retire when no one wants us old folks any more!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 12:17PM
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I was just reading back through all of this. I would STRONGLY recommend NOT signing anything with a non-compete clause without getting legal advice. It seems ludicrous to me to incorporate a non-compete as part of a layoff. My DH foolishly signed one as part of an employment agreement that came back to bite him. He ended up getting an attorney involved after the fact when he got a job offer that was impacted by the non-compete. It all worked out okay in the end but lesson learned - do not sign a non-compete without legal consultation.

And of course other reasons not to sign separation agreement without legal advice especially if you are over 50.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 12:30PM
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No relevant suggestions to offer, but hope that things are progressing favourably and that you are continuing to work at this as a team.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Hi Gibby3000
We're still hanging in there. Husband is busy job searching/networking. He has 2 interviews next week. One with a contract IT company and another with a hospital. He also was contacted by a former company (13 years ago) to do some consulting possibly for 2-3 months. Also, we had someone look at the non-compete. It's only for the duration of the severance-we thought that was reasonable. Unfortunately, he hasn't had EMR experience.
We just mailed out our 1st COBRA payment this week-painful but necessary. We both need health insurance.
Joyfulguy-I always read your posts and look forward to your advice and support. Thanks for words of encouragement.
If anyone has any other suggestions or possible jobs for a business systems analyst (healthcare especially) travel is fine but no relocation-I like my job!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 10:00PM
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Two households, until your husband could find something back in your area, if you could afford it. There are long term hotels that charge less per month or a small studio or one bedroom. Hopefully the utilities would be furnished as utilities can be more than the cost of a place to lay your head.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 2:33AM
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Hi I would like to send you some information but I don't see an email address for you. I work for a Fortune 500 where there are offices nearly everywhere in the US! Let me know where I can send the info. thanks.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:15PM
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aekekk - what type of healthcare IT skills/expertise/experience does he have if it is not at all EMR related?

Good sign if he has interviews.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 2:19PM
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Just an update for all who offered advice: my husband has been working as an independent consultant since October. He's had a few interviews for permanent jobs but no offers yet. Lots of calls for consulting. So, we continue paying Cobra @1200.00/month. thankful that he will be consulting till the end of march. Any additional advice is always appreciated. Any thoughts about staying independent?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 10:19PM
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I would suggest coupons! I've been couponing this year and have cut my food bill in half. And pray for universal healthcare. If they can spend 650 BILLION on war They can spend some on healthcare for the rest of us.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 12:32PM
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"Any thoughts about staying independent?"

Yep - keep the lifestyle spending to a minimum and save, save, save. The bigger your safety net, the more choices you will have.

Personally, I think it is great when people want to essentially be their own business. For the right person, the potential to make a great living is certainly there.

However, losing a job is a horrible reason to start an independent business if you hadn't already been planning on it. It usually isn't a good idea to let short term circumstances determine your long term plans. Unless he really wanted to be independent before the job loss, I would view this as a temporary way to make money while looking for full time employment.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Thanks Bill. We've saved an 18 month emergency fund. Husband and I hadn't given the independent route any previous thought before his layoff. I've been self employed for 15 years. My big concern is benefits. Right now we have Cobra and although expensive at least we know we have acces to a quality health plan for another. 14months.
If he stays independent and continues as a consultant will we ever get over the feeling of when does the next job come through? We don't have debt beyond the mortgage (240K) with 12 years remaining.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 8:53PM
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"If he stays independent and continues as a consultant will we ever get over the feeling of when does the next job come through?"

To me, this sounds like you guys are just looking for some security and certainty. It is a very unsettling feeling to not have a clear picture of how your life is unfolding - especially if you thought you had it all planned. :)

So, my advice would be to put a plan back in place based on your current circumstances. eg both of you are independent contractors and need to structure your financial plans accordingly. When your husband does land a permanent job, then it will just be gravy - not a necessity.

So, if your biggest concern is benefits, make a plan for how you will address that after cobra. Have you been looking at your options? Remember, when you are 50+, you really aren't looking at a long window until you move onto medicare. If you can have a higher deductible plan for 10 years, that isn't the end of the world. Just find out how much it is going to cost (probably not more then cobra monthly) and then start saving up deductible money. If you had an account with 10 years of deductible money set aside and a good idea of premium costs, I bet you'd feel a lot more secure about healthcare.

Honestly, you guys are still on a pretty good trajectory. In 12 years, you'll have no mortgage payments, no debt and nearing or at eligibility for all the social programs (if you need them.) It isn't like you are "starting over" from scratch. You just need a plan for the gap that keeps you on this general path.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 8:56AM
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Have you priced individual health insurance? DH and I went "independent" 2 years ago. We are both healthy, mid-40's + early 50's in age, and bought an HSA plan with $10K deductible for under $300/mo for both of us. If you could get something similar, you could sock away the $900/month savings to use towards the deductible if you got sick.

Another thought, as a small business owner, we don't have a lot of resources, but lots of needs for smallish projects and the like. So the idea of hiring consultants for those projects, or short-term gigs, or a few hours a week is very appealing. As it is now, I just do most of it (or it languishes on my to-do list), but as we grow and have more cash available, I'd very much like to farm out some of that stuff. I'm hoping that this model of independent people working for multiple companies keeps up. Cause I'll use it.

No IT work, btw. I'm mostly thinking of marketing projects, financial analytical work, maybe some lean manufacturing projects.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:13PM
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aekekk - good to hear the update on how you guys are getting along. My DH is currently working in another state. He has a man cave there and we get together every 2-4 weeks. An unconventional life but it works for us. He's much happier working away from home than not working and being home.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 12:07AM
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