How times have changed. Two years ago, I had a corner office, a secretary, a company car, an expense account, a home, a 401k - I was an upper middle class Project Manager for a construction company that did over 20 million dollars a year. When the housing bubble hit, the contracts started drying up - and I was doing large commercial buildings. We went from over 200 employees down to 100, I became a "Business Development" person, looking for work - we had never had to actively "look" for projects before because of the reputation we had for quality and affordable work.
As the months passed, we dropped to 75, then to 50, then to 30 - I went with that last cut. At first I thought, oh well, a quick vacation and then I'll be back in the saddle. I am very qualified and thought it would take no time to find a new job. Sixteen months later, my unemployment ran out - that was 3 months ago.
During those sixteen months, I lost my house, cashed out my 401k trying to keep things going, burned through my savings, moved from a higher cost-of-living area to the Dallas, TX area to save on living expenses (after the house was gone), and eventually lost my vehicle once the unemployment finally ran out.
Oh, and my wife was in Peru as a missionary during this time!
Talk about a radical life simplification! I was one of those people that thought it couldn't happen to me. I now get by on scavenging and bartering. My wife is back from Peru and has been working. Her income is our primary income right now. With the last bit of money we had, we opened a Thrift Shop and are trying to help others who are falling victim to the economic downturn.
We struggle just to cover the rent and bills and truly get by day-by-day.
I am a combat veteran, college educated, and didn't think it could happen to me.