I have always considered myself a lucky man and when my wife delivered a set of triplets in January 2011 through a Caesarian section, my joy knew no bound and I truly believed I was the luckiest man alive.
The birth of the triplets brought much publicity, lots of goodwill and considerable strain on my finances. The hospital bills alone cost me about a $1000. Though I didn’t have any issue coming up with that money, the money required to buy additional drugs, baby food and other baby stuff was a little demanding.
Unlike in some western countries, in Nigeria (where I live), the government owes you no obligation when you give birth – not even when you have triplets. So, the issue of getting help from the government was out of the question.
Based on my cultural background, people brought different gifts, mainly foodstuffs, baby stuff and cash.
While money was never really a big problem for me, however, coping with the physical demands of taking care of the babies was demanding! The only person available to stay with us was my wife’s niece and she could not be around all the time as she was still in school. Out of desperation, I had to invite my widowed aunt with her three children to come live with us so my wife could have some help, especially when I was off to work.
What I never foresaw coming was losing my job three months after the birth of the babies due to circumstances beyond my control. I got to work one day to see a suspension letter on my desk. My department was being probed for fraud and everyone in the department was asked to go on an indefinite suspension, pending the determination of the investigation.
I’ve worked hard for the company for more than seven years and have thrived on the pressures and challenges of the work, and enjoyed the good salary I earned. Though I felt empty and a little depressed, I made up my mind not to wallow in self-pity.
When I got home that evening after visiting a bar to have a drink and reflect, I called my wife and explained the situation of things to her. Together, we evaluated our situation, calculated how much we had in our savings and analyzed our expenses.
Together we created a budget and planned on how to drastically cut down our expenses.
One of our first decisions was to ask my aunt and her children to leave to cut down on feeding expenses. But, on a second thought, we decided to reject the idea because of the help she provided with the chores and the impact her leaving would have on the wellbeing of my wife and the babies.
We eventually came up with a plan on how to manage the available resources, while I try to get another job.
There’s no two ways about it: losing my job was hard. It was more painful because I had no idea of the fraud that was committed in the office. I was being punished for the action of others.
However, if you look at the loss of a job, like any setback from a broad point of view, you recognize that success in life is measured far less by our opportunities than by how we react to life’s challenges and setbacks.
I decided to focus on the things that I could control and to stay focused on the future.
Hard as we tried, in less than two months I was already feeling pressured financially. We never imagined how much we would need to effectively take care of the babies. I did not estimate that I would need to buy a new supply of baby food every week, not to talk of pampers and other little essential stuff.
All my efforts and networking to get a new job has been fruitless. The only available jobs paid less than $50 monthly.
My wife could not breastfeed the three babies and so we had to rely heavily on a special baby food (which was recommended by the doctors) to supplement the breast milk.
In the midst of these challenges, the lawyer in charge of the apartment we lived brought a notice of a 50% increment and demanded for a year payment because we was already in the last month of my previous payment.
To avoid being rendered homeless, I paid off the new rent with the last of my savings and knew then I had to do something drastic to raise money to cater for my family.
I reached out to friends and family members and I was able to get enough money to fund our expenses for a month.
Next, after discussing with my wife, I brought out some stuff that was valuable, including some of our jewelries and the plasma TV in our room. I took a picture of each item and put them up for sale at olx.com – an auction site similar to eBay.
I considered selling my car but my wife won’t hear of it and so I decided to drop the idea.
I was able to raise about $600 from the items I sold off at olx. I evaluated my options and decided that the money was too small to start any meaningful business. I therefore decided to venture into online freelance writing.
I’ve always loved to write and had written many short stories in my school days. I took a $100 from the $600 I realized from the sales and enrolled for an online course on how to make money working as a freelance writer from home.
After the two week course, I took an additional $165 to buy a domain name and a web host. I thereafter used YouTube videos to teach myself how to set up a WordPress blog.
I spent the next two months researching, reading and practicing how to become successful in writing online. It wasn’t easy and many times I felt like giving up to try out other things. The support from my wife and the members of a Facebook writer’s group I joined kept me going.
Sometimes, I slept less than 30 hours in a week. I became married to my laptop, pitching potential clients night and day in search of a writing job.
My first breakthrough came in my third month. At that time, I was already desperate as the remaining money from the olx sales was already exhausted. I was seriously thinking of selling my car even without my wife’s approval when I received an email response from one of my pitches, asking me if I can rewrite the articles on his website for a $100.
I accepted the job without asking for a contract agreement and without even being sure of the total number of writing required.
That first job was the beginning of a successful writing career that has earned me four figure incomes consistently even on a slow month.
Looking back at my time of being unemployed, certain actions were responsible for my ability to stay afloat financially to meet my financial obligations as a father and husband.
Being unemployed is certainly not a funny matter. It’s easy to get stuck in the past and what should’ve, would’ve could’ve happened. Doing so only bring about vicious emotions that stimulate self-pity, anger, and a sense of hopelessness.
If you find yourself unemployed with a family to cater for, take out time to evaluate your situation, but never wallow in self-pity.
Focus on the future, and on what you must do to set yourself up financially.
Opening up to my wife, evaluating our situation and setting up a budget based on our available resources was another vital decision that was invaluable.
The positive attitude and encouragement from my wife and my online writer’s group was another factor that helped me.
It’s necessary to surround yourself with positive people when you are unemployed.
Emotions are infectious. The people around you affect how you perceive yourself, your circumstances and what you do to improve it. Be careful who you hang out with and don’t get sucked into the whirlpool of those who want a long-drawn-out self-pity. Self-pity wastes valuable time and energy, better spent on getting back into employment.
Use the period of being unemployed to sharpen up your skills. Find out which skills are more valuable to your potential employers in your field. Sign up for necessary classes or find free tutorials online to enhance your needed skills.
Open up and reach out to your family members and friends. Even if you take pride in yourself as being self-sufficient, keep your family and friends in the loop concerning your job search and inform them how they can support you.
Most importantly, concentrate on the things you can control and stay focused on your goal of getting back to work.
“I love to research and write on varied and diverse subjects, but with a specialty on topics related to the personal finance niche. I love to write about Savings, Investments, Family Finance, Credit, Loans, Getting Out of Debt and Money.”
Kelvin is available for hire and he can be reached through his website – kelvinomere.com/hire-me/