Personal Finance

Preparing for job lost, barebone budget and what’s next

Even after the lockdown, I was confident that my job would remain. Not because I am superb at my work, but what I do is essential in the industry. Finding someone similar will cost a few times of my payroll. I continue to spend and support friends’ initiative to provide for hundreds of refugees family. We may not be able to solve poverty, but we can solve hunger.
But the industry is cost-cutting, and if there’s the slightest possibility that I do lose my job, I want to have a what’s next plan so that I don’t need to deal with the emotional shock. If you lose your job now, know that it’s not your fault. 

Here’s what I’ll do if I lose my job today – barebone budget and re-chart my career. 

Barebone budget 

Admittedly, I can’t live the same lifestyle that I have with a payroll. I have savings of about six months of my normal expenses, but how much do I need to spend when I cut down working cost? It’s a surprise; I calculated and found out that my cost of working is near to RM2,000 a month! A significant amount comes from parking and toll, the time-saving avocado toast, and the expectations cost like clothes. 

After omitting the RM2,000 (automatically), I will discontinue my rent and move back home. That will save me RM1,200 in rent and RM150 in broadband. There will be a once-off spend to move the house items. Meh.  

Then the nitty-gritty stuff, I’ll put up my remaining facial for sale if required. Cut credit cards with fees, redeem all the reward points to cash or cash equivalent, check if I got unclaimed money with Bank Negara, stop my sushi subscription, eat a huge bag of potatoes with onions, claim withdraw from i-Lestari.

My mobile bill is RM27/month for now; I would consider to bring it down to RM19/month or pay RM5 with Yoodo sim card. Netflix subscription has to stay as I cost-share with friends. 

Food, for the sake of sanity I will allow myself to continue eating dessert. What I’ll skip are organic vegetables and juices. I’ve learned a few cheap dishes during the lockdown – tomato omelet, 3-minute eggplant, homemade KFC. This lockdown gives me confidence that I can live a simple life. If it ever comes to survival, the RM50 grocery list we prepare these times for families in need is my to go. 

  • Eggs -30s tray
  • Rice – 10kg
  • Onions, Garlic
  • Potato
  • Cereal
  • Sardin, Veg pack

With a fully paid car and free home lodging, I should be able to survive with about RM1,300 a month – chipping to my parents before they kick me out, and some entertainment. Dirt cheap. No debt and minimal commitments help.

If you have a family or children, more planning is required. It will help to bring them on board in cutting expenses. I did the math in supporting my brother – it is not easy to be a breadwinner, but the worst is taking it yourself and putting the cost burden on credit cards. 

The thing I would regret is perhaps the paying forward spend on subscription such as the Duolingo and Blinkist. I now know why they offer a 50% discount for a yearly package. 

If I activate the barebone budget, my emergency fund may stretch up to two years. 
Dismissal payment and unemployment benefit 

It’s a bold assumption, under the best-case scenario, I’ll get a year equivalent pay from salary compensation and unemployment insurance combined. The amount should be tax-exempt (RM10,000 for every working year in Malaysia). This windfall will be useful to further pay my unemployed living expenses. 

Review investment 

Very likely, there will be no change to the investment plan, but it is good to have a review as the risk has changed, and capital protection may be more important than growth. Will I continue to park some of the emergency savings in fixed income funds? What if I never get a full-time job back? That’s something I have not fully considered.

Re-chart my career 

As it is unlikely that I lose my job, it is also unlikely that I get rehired in the same field. Career-wise, I have not seen the lights ahead of where I am now. It would be a good time for me to recalibrate and see where I will be next.

I realized early on that my work knowledge is rarely transferrable. Therefore, I have always keep in touch with what’s what in other industries. However, they are not in-depth, hands-on experience, so transferring skills is still a barrier. A dismissal will be the time to learn and re-learn what I am passionate about in life. But I’ll it take slowly, considering that the market may not be ready to absorb me. 

The first thing I will get my hands dirty on is data visualization, then process optimization (like SOP). On the side, I’ll invest in some digital marketing, which can be lucrative. Would people pay if I custom made a website like this with a product sales page for them? 

Spend my time productively like before 

I think it is important that we continue to spend time working on productive things like before. Of of the best life advice I get is to manage your time with the same diligence in managing your money. Instead of working for the company, we are now investing in ourselves. Even if I do not have a job, I plan to put myself at the study table to work on something each day, big or small.  My problem? How to ensure that I don’t go off-course. There are too many doors, too little direction. 

I’ll rest with the plan 

While writing this, I suddenly find that there is a lot more adjustment to be made than I think there is in the event of a call from HR. Perhaps I over plan, but I do want to be over ready rather than caught off-guard. And if I do all these, the pressure of losing work can be minimized. Also, remember that my identity is not in my work but in Christ alone. 

Also while writing this, my brother’s office has its contract terminated. (Update: He found a job on 20th Apr) 

Did you lose your job recently? How do you cope?

2 thoughts on “Preparing for job lost, barebone budget and what’s next

  1. I think it’s good to have a plan just in case, without spending more time on the back-up plan than on what you are planning to do first. Also as a Christ-follower who’s been slowly separating my identity from my day job, I can relate to that last thought. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Daisy! Thanks for dropping by. Part of me is hoping that the VSS would come, then I could venture into a more adventurous career without feeling guilty! But I am not complaining of what I have now. And yes, I realized that I take my work identity too seriously sometimes and always need to be reminded. How do you separate yourself from that?

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