One Family Struggles With Unemployment…And I Don’t Feel Bad For Them!

My wife gets together with a group of new moms on a somewhat regular basis.  It’s always fun to hear the stories about what’s going on with the moms, the other kids, and the families.

As soon as I heard the latest story, I knew I had to share this with my readers!  It involves unemployment, bad judgment, questionable decisions, and financial impact….a personal finance bloggers dream!

One of the fellow mom’s, similar to Mrs. Beagle, had worked up until her son was born.  Also like Mrs. Beagle, she was planning to quit her job (she was an elementary school teacher) and stay at home to take care of the baby.  However, before she had a chance to quit, she got laid off.

This meant that she qualified for unemployment.

She’s collected unemployment for over a year, even making mention a couple of months ago how they would be continuing to collect since the government had extended the length of time one could collect.

Can you see why in the title I don’t feel bad for them?

Continuing the story, they kept up with cashing the unemployment checks, integrating the money into their household budget.  Her husband has a decent salary, and the salary plus the unemployment check allowed them to pay the bills.

Hopefully, it’s getting even more clear why this story ends up with no sympathy on my part!

Had everything continued, she would have been able to collect unemployment until spring of 2011.  But, fate intervened!


She got ‘called back’ to work in her teaching job!

Since she and her husband had decided that they had no intention of her working full time, she turned the job offer down.  This got reported back to the unemployment office and this meant that she was no longer eligible, as one of the stipulations is that you have to be looking for work and accept work.

Suddenly, the checks stopped coming a lot sooner than they had anticipated.

Now, they are panicking.  They are trying to find her part time work as their budget just doesn’t have the flexibility for this ‘drop’ in income. I’m not sure even a budget helper tool could help them now!

I’ll keep you posted on the story as it unfolds, but here are the takeaways so far and why I don’t feel bad for them in the least:

  1. Technically, she shouldn’t have been collecting unemployment in the first place.  Unemployment is to carry you through between jobs.  Since she had no intention of working, she really shouldn’t have been collecting anything.  Now, I’m not going to lie, when we were preparing for my wife to quit, I joked that it would be ideal if she got laid off first so that she could get unemployment, but it was just that, a passing thought.  Had it actually worked out, I’m not sure that we would have been able to look into the mirror knowing that we would be gaming the system, especially knowing that this was coming from our spiraling-out-of-control national debt.
  2. Putting that aside, they never should have ‘spent’ that money.  Even if, in some world, they could justify collecting that money, it should not have been integrated into their household budget.  They knew it was going to run out at some point, right?  Then why on God’s green earth would they ever count on that money being there?  Before my wife quit her job, we had adjusted our entire household budget so that her income was no longer required to cover our monthly costs.  At the very least, they should have done the same thing and banked that money or applied it as ‘extra’ payments to debt, retirement, college fund, savings, or anything else that they could have safely removed paying towards once the well ran dry.

So, as you can see, there are bad choices and moral dilemmas that are in play here, and combined, leads me to have no sympathy for their current situation.  By no means am I rooting for them to get into serious trouble, but I do hope that they are forced into making some tough decisions and setting things up the way that they should have been set up a long time ago.

7 thoughts on “One Family Struggles With Unemployment…And I Don’t Feel Bad For Them!”

  1. thats really interesting that she could qualify for unemployment when her husband had a decent income, here it is based on family income so losing a job doesn't mean you will qualify for the dole if your partner works.

  2. Unemployment is insurance, not welfare. If we didn't have it, wages would be higher. Still, it's supposed to be insurance for when you've lost your job through no fault of your own and cannot find new employment right away.

    Yeah, it is definitely hard to feel sorry for that family. And was she lying about "looking" for work in order to get those unemployment checks? Very sketchy.

    I'm also not crazy about women who take their full maternity leave, promising they're going to return and then don't return leaving the company in lurch. They make it worse for the rest of us. (Well, if I had paid maternity leave, which I don't…)

  3. Great article. I just included it in my roundup (which maybe in your spam folder). sympathies. You have your whole pregnancy to adjust your's like a 9 month head start if you know you're not going to go back to work. In fact, sounded like she got almost a 2 year head start.

    I just don't get some people. I have a friend who constantly complains about her budget, yet she's always buying stuff. I really don't understand why she doesn't connect the two things together.

  4. As it serves as insurance, unemployment does not guaranty a lifetime of benefits. You still have top work things out. In this instance, I agree that in the first place, they should have avoided the circumstances if only they plan ahead of time. Supporting a family isn't that easy and the financial obligation is something that must be prepared of.

  5. I can't believe that they didn't just pay down debt, increase savings, or anything else with that money! Why would you take income that you didn't expect and isn't guaranteed and incorporate it into your budget?

  6. Here, unemployment is a govt, thing – it's all publicly funded and there's no cutoffs (it's not enough to live on really, though.)

    T and I decided in his latest unemployment stint not to apply. The money would have been nice (IF he qualified, which we weren't even sure he would) but a) the hassle and, I guess, the stigma for him personally and blow to pride and b) the fact that I could support both of us, meant we made the decision to go it on our own.

  7. @emusings, that is very admirable. I commend you for the decision.

    Thanks to all for the great comments.

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