I was laid off last year. There, I said it. One month, my job duties included gourmet food and wine tastings, and expense-able business lunches in nice hotels, and the next month, they didn’t.
But here’s the upside: Nearly every laid-off-but-making-it-work contact in my life came out of the woodwork. Women (and men) who’d seemingly maintained their standard of living in the wake of pink slips, downsizings, and furloughs welcomed me with open arms and boatloads of no-nonsense advice. I'm paying it forward and giving it to LearnVesters. Here goes:
Remember, Necessity Is the Mother of Invention.
Most of the chic home and clothing trends weren’t invented by designers, but by poor people. Everyday basics (for instance, ball mason and apothecary jars, which are universally chic from the powder room to the pantry) shouldn’t cost more than a buck a pop. Find a good tailor and shop at Goodwill in the good part of town. Stop paying people to do convenience-based tasks (deep conditioning treatments, gift wrapping, non-dry-clean-only laundering) that you could easily do for yourself. To give you a start, here is LearnVest's DIY article library.
Spend (And Splurge) Wisely.
Gifts with purchase now make great gifts later. Clearance aisle art, architecture, and décor books (we love anything by Taschen) at Barnes and Noble and Borders make for breath-taking framed art. Dirt-cheap butcher paper, twine, and an arsenal of different-occasion and monogram stamps from craft stores like Michaels and Paper Source will nix the need for a case-by-case wrapping paper fund.
Quality-Conscious, Yes. Label-Conscious, No.
Nobody really cares where you got your plain white t-shirt. That being said, if you’re addicted to Anthropologie sweetheart-neckline dresses, equestrian riding boots, and 60s-era signet rings, fine. Stay true to the brands and styles that you’ve always loved, just hit up sources like new eBay portal The Inside Source and new site ReFashioner.com to find them. Bashful about generic-brand beauty and pantry products and bottom-shelf booze? Display them in mason jars and vessels you scored at discount sources like Cost Plus World Market.
No Job is No Excuse for No Calling Card.
Etsy.com and Moo Cards are cheap, stylish sources for the in-between times when all you have to your name is a personal e-mail address. A quick handwritten note beats a never-sent over-the-top gift every time.
Relearn Housekeeping 101.
Flower and décor websites are a novice DIY-er’s training ground before going in for the kill at (way cheaper) farmers markets and garage sales. Ask the chef for the recipe to try at home. Join Home Depot’s (free) Home Improver Club. Throw more dinner parties.
Get A Hobby.
Have a signature skill – whether it’s baking, sauce canning, photography, or calligraphy. It’ll come in handy when you don’t have cash for store-bought gifts or a group gift/shower/party fund. Bartering certain services (copywriting, photography, and graphic design in particular) are how many of downsized creative friends are keeping salon appointments, Pilates lessons, and daycare fees covered. Monetize your skill and barter with confidence.
Good luck and hang in there!
Readers, do you have any coping tips you'd like to share? If so, please add them to the comments.