One morning, my colleague and I arrived at the office with the worst news ever.
“Guys, I’m really sorry. It was a tough decision to make, but I’m going to shut down this company,” my boss announced.
Although we knew that our company had been dealing with financial troubles, we never thought it would be so soon. After I packed my belongings and went home, it dawned on me, “How am I going to pay my bills?”
But that’s not the only thing that followed.
1. I was close to being broke
I never realised how unprepared I was until I found out my savings can only last me for three months. When it hit me, I went straight into panic mode.
I started sending resumes everywhere and contacted my friends. Sadly, I didn’t receive phone calls from anyone.
All I thought about was how am I going to pay my bills and loans? It took a toll on my emotional wellbeing that I started isolating myself from my friends. I didn’t feel like burdening anyone with my financial troubles, you see.
But day by day, I was closer to being broke.
What I did: At thirty, I never thought I would ask my parents for money. Like every adult of my age, I supposed to have everything figured out, but there I was seeking help from my parents.
I was fortunate that my parents took care of my finances until I got back on my feet. Although it was hard to ask for help, I know I can’t do it alone.
2. I wished I saved more than I spent
Looking back, that was what I should have done. Having a monthly salary makes me feel financially secure. I didn’t have to worry about money and I splurged on frivolous things like Starbucks lattes and expensive work lunches.
If I could turn back the time, I’d save a small portion of my salary as emergency savings. Whether we like it or not, the inevitable will happen. If it’s not losing your job, you might get into a car accident or lose your valuables – and these cost a lot of money.
What I did: Since I can’t turn back the time, I had to find other sources of income. That’s when I started freelancing and securing projects with several start-ups.
No matter how low the payment was, I always remember to set aside some money for personal and emergency savings. That’s because I’ll never know the next time I’d need it.
3. I learned the importance of budgeting
I never cared about budgeting until I’m stuck with a small amount of savings. I had to make the most of it and spread out for the next three months.
Honestly, it was hard resisting fancy drinks, shopping during sales season, and buying new lipsticks. As a shopaholic, it was difficult to say no to the retail devil.
What I did: I had to make some changes in my personal and social life. For instance, I only buy coffee when I meet my client and had to forego hanging out with my friends.
Other things I did were switching to a cheaper data plan and internet subscriptions. In the beginning, I only saved between RM10-RM50 here and there. After a few months, I realised that the savings added up, and I was able to stretch my savings from three months to five months.
4. I faced the reality of unemployment
Compared to the time I started as a fresh graduate, it still takes between three to six months to find a new job. It was a long time for me, and I didn’t want to sit around and wait. So I started freelance writing from the ground up (with zero experience whatsoever).
Half the time, I was clueless about what my client wanted. But I googled, asked around and delivered it anyway. Basically doing whatever it takes to build my finances again.
It took a lot of patience and perseverance. Thankfully, it took off quickly and I was able to get a stable income three months later. It may not be as high as my previous salary but it was enough to pay my bills and keep things afloat.
What I did: Since it’ll take a while to land a new job, keep sourcing for ways to gain additional income. If freelance writing is not for you, consider becoming a Grab driver or part-time barista. The opportunities are endless!
In desperate times, it’s also important not to settle for the first job that comes your way. I know you need money, but it’s going to cost your job satisfaction and happiness. If you’re going to start a new chapter, you might as well find the right one.
Look for a job that complements your career goals, desired work culture and personal strengths. Then, you’ll be off to better beginnings!
It’s soul-crushing to lose your job in a blink of an eye. It can send you into a downward spiral, but there are lessons to learn along the way. Whether you’re learning to seek financial help or saving for the first time, they’re part of the journey of starting over.
It can be tough, but always believe that everything will turn out the way it should be. Starting over is not easy, so don’t give up!
For more articles on starting over, read 4 Lessons I’ve Learned After Switching from Government to Startup, and I Still Haven’t Found a Job for past 6 Months – What Should I Do?