I went to a UC. I even graduated, in a life science. Not that I have to prove to you that I'm smart, but, I am. I know how to think. Still, there's plenty of times where my mind has failed me. It's refused to go where I needed it to and bad decisions were made. I kind of know why that happens, but today, really, I just need your help. There's something I can't think about. And I know you're smart, and you probably know some things I don't. Maybe you can help.
When I met my husband, he was working for a software company. He'd just started the job that fall, moving to the area from a neighboring state. He'd been back and forth before, moving between states for a new job. This job was over for him after 90 days. He got a decent severance, and unemployment. We moved in together to save expenses. He sent out resumes, and worked for a friend who paid him a few hundred a month in cash. He paid a couple hundred bucks for the rent, and I took care of the rest. He paid "his" bills; car payment, insurance, cell phone, the occasional take out dinner. He wanted to move back. He had a house there, and there were opportunities. He could work again. Doing something he liked doing. I didn't want to move.
After a year he was still unemployed. Benefits were extended, thank god, and I decided to do it. To move out of the state I'd lived my whole life. It was a decision to move me out of my comfort zone, and, I didn't want to break up. He didn't come out and say "if you don't move with me, we're going to break up" and I don't know if that's even what would have happened, but it sure is what I believed would happen. We moved in June that year. He'd been unemployed 18 months.
Once we got to town, he started working on his new career. I got a job in the same field and was able to find something for him a couple months later. It didn't work out, and that March he was working for someone else. Times were getting desperate. We rented out a room in our house. I started doing part time consulting. Things started happening for him that summer. By the end of the year, money was rolling in. The whole next year was a blur of clients and dinners, meetings and weekend work. We got married, sold and bought a house, paid off debt, went on our honeymoon. He was paying all the bills. On our honeymoon, he started telling me that things were changing. He saw big changes in our industry and he didn't know how they were going to effect us. We talked about our finances, forecasting a 50% drop in his income. We'd still be fine, we thought.
The industry did change. Before our 1st anniversary, his income had shrunk by 60%. I was paying half the mortgage and most of the other bills. By our second anniversary, his income was down 90%. I was paying everything I could. We were using savings to bridge the gap. He was sending out resumes, and trying to squeeze out a living. He made $18,000 that year, before expenses, $6000 the year after that, $2000 last year.
We have friends in the business, some of them are making a lot of money. He's not. He ordered programs and went to free seminars to try and figure out what these people are doing. Maybe spending money on programs and seminars is what they're doing. We can't afford that. He moves to a different company hoping that they'll have some real opportunity, but nothing pans out. Meanwhile, we can't to pay our mortgage without tapping out the savings account. We decide to rent out the house.
We moved, first, to my in-laws. They were out of town for the season and were generous enough to give us free rent and their car (as by now, the lease on my husband's car was up and we couldn't afford another one) for those months. When they returned, we moved into a condo. We were lucky enough to borrow a car for a few months from a friend. We moved out of our home 9 months ago. He moved again to another company, hoping for opportunities, but got nothing. He's an independent contractor and works from home. No salary, no benefits, no unemployment. He does research and reads articles in the business journals and sends out resumes to job postings he calls bullshit.
At the beginning, I said what about a restaurant? What about Starbucks? What about dumbing it down to entry level? It would be something until things pick up, turn around. You know how many people like me there are out there? he said. Unemployment is at 5% (it was then), and it's much higher here. They're not going to want to hire someone with my experience and my age (he's 39, now, with a college degree). They want kids right out of college who don't know anything and pretty sorority girls they can mold and shape. He says he's working hard and that he has nothing to show for it. He says everyone thinks he's a loser, but if he was really the loser they all thought he was he wouldn't care so much about how hard I'm working and about how I'm doing. I tell him I understand how hard he's working and that I know he's not a loser and that people can be judgmental but your real friends know you.
About a year ago, I got a referral for someone who needed some work done, evenings and weekends, part time, office stuff. I started last April. A few months later I got another referral, then another. I have four clients now, for whom I work between 5 and 20 hours per month, each. I still have my full time job, which I love. I put in 45-50 hours a week there. Between it all, I'm working 60-70 hours a week, and have been since October.
I brought up Starbucks again. Things might not turn around for a while. And we really need money now. I think you need to go knock on some doors. Put in some applications at places that don't post openings online. He said that I'd better be real careful about how I approach this. That I can't imagine what it's like for him, at his age, with his experience and abilities, to be dealing with shit every day and trying to make something good of it. I said I know how hard you're working, but maybe it's time to think about your last resort options, because we're there.
That was two weeks ago. I am at a client's office right now, asking for your help, because I can't keep working like this. I can't keep hoping that things will get better. And I hear that voice in my head that says "what did people in the depression do? They worked hard, they stuck together, so that's what you have to do. Don't be a quitter. Your husband is smart and he made money once and he'll make it again. You should be ashamed of yourself for doubting him."
But then I wonder, doesn't he see how hard I'm working? Doesn't he realize he needs to do something, NOW? Why doesn't he run down to In-n-Out and apply? To Starbucks, to Best Buy, to every chain retailer and restaurant known to man? Doesn't he see that we need money? Does he think I'm taking all this on because I like it? Why doesn't he do something?
I don't know what to think about this. Is it ok that my husband stays home, sends out resumes and earns about $200/month doing piecemeal work in a depressed industry? We don't have kids to care for, just us. I don't have a long term solution for him for a new career that won't cost us thousands (school or retraining cost $$), and I don't know what kind of career he will have. But I am working my ass off. Can I say that I don't want to do it anymore? Can I quit? Can I tell him he needs to get a job with a paycheck? Even if he hates it? Is it even reasonable to expect that he can, even if it's just at McDonald's? I don't know what to think about this. Please, tell me what you think. Help me out.