These are different times. Once upon a time there were warning signals that your world was about to be turned upside down. There was writing on the wall, smoke in the air, dead canaries in the mine. Unfortunately, there are few harbingers in these different times.
We live in an age where the bottom line rules. HR departments have become de facto hit men for corporate greed. Jobs are shipped overseas, corporations merge, and industries are blindsided by industry life cycle shifts. Displaced American workers are the end product.
The role of America worker used to be sacrosanct. There was an unspoken rule that as long as you kept your nose clean, came to work on time and did your job, job security was as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. These are different times.
Even though they are still among the hardest working in the world, the American workers find themselves a dispensable commodity. Instead of being loyal to the worker, the corporations know that whether the American worker survives or not, there are limitless alternatives around the globe.
So, given this backdrop, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and discover that your job has been outsourced, downsized or shipped overseas. Corporations will blame it on high taxes, competition, the market economy, even while they boast unprecedented profits and their CEO’s rake in ungodly salaries.
The corporations will hide behind great PR campaigns and hire seasoned lobbyists to silence your so-called representative in Congress. They will take solace in knowing that the displaced workers will not blame the corporation itself, but will instead blame other workers. They also know they have a well-trained cadre of middle managers and HR loyalists poised to do their bidding, even though many of them will receive the same fate a few weeks later.
Note to the American worker: It’s not your fault. It’s not the fault of your fellow American of a different race or gender. It’s not the fault of your newly arrived neighbor from a different land. Regardless of who deserves blame or not, if you find yourself abruptly displaced, here are some basic survival strategies.
Start Living on Half Your Salary, Today
He will always be a slave who does not know how to live upon a little.
Most Americans make enough money to live quite comfortably if only they put the money they made to better use. Try arranging your finances so that you can live on half of what you earn. If you make $80,000 per year, live like you make $40,000, because who knows, one day you might have to.
Turning your finances around on a dime is easier said than done, but here are some practical ways to downsize without dramatically affecting your quality of life.
This is a where many people, particularly the X and Y generations, can make an immediate and dramatic impact. Resist the urge to buy the most expensive car with all the extras. That is money you will never see again. If you own an expensive gas-guzzling luxury car, ditch it the first chance you get. Look into fuel efficient automobiles, car-pooling and public transportation.
When was the last time you REALLY looked in your closet? I mean REALLY looked? The last time I REALLY looked, I felt like I was in a new department store where everything in it was my size, my style, in my favorite colors and best of all … FREE. In some cases, you may have to replace a button, lift a spot or, heaven forbids, bring out the ironing board. After all is said and done, you will be shocked and impressed at your NEW wardrobe. You should try this today … REALLY!
Looking for a new hobby that’s a proven crowd-pleaser? Why not explore your inner chef? It should come as no surprise that restaurants are in it for the money. The tastier they make the food, the more you buy. Unfortunately that good taste often comes with unhealthy insertions of fat, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. In case you hadn’t noticed, practically every office in the country now has a kitchen, microwave and refrigerator. Consider cooking your food at home and taking it to work. You will save yourself a bundle on food now, and on hospital bills later.
Gadgets are like dandelions; they are popping up everywhere. It’s okay to pass on every other new edition or upgrade, particularly since each upgrade also leads to collateral expenses. If you consider yourself an ‘Innovator’ in the Consumer Adoption Process, you might consider self-graduating to the ‘Early Adopter’ phase. In fact, it might not be a bad idea for everyone to shift ahead at least one phase. You’ll save quite a bit of money in the process.
If you are self-employed or own a small business, take a look at your office space. People aren’t as impressed by your big office as you might think. In fact some view it as an extravagance for which they are footing the bill. Consider sharing office space, renting out extra suites in your office, or looking at virtual office spaces, some of which provide Internet services, conference rooms, receptionists and mail service for one flat fee.
Friends and Associates
Your friends are most likely your biggest expense. Keeping up with them and their spending habits can be a budget-buster. Reminds me of an episode of ‘Friends’ in which the ‘poor’ Friends, rebelled against the ‘rich’ Friends. Good for them. Social proof, a.k.a. peer pressure, is one of the #1 reasons behind over-spending. This phenomenon can affect the clothes you buy, the car you drive, the gadgets you own and practically every other spending decision you make. The day you decide to stop ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ you will see a material impact on your bottom line. That might just mean hanging out with a new set of ‘Friends.’
Downsizing doesn’t mean downgrading. In fact, it can be one of the smartest, most impressive and uplifting moves you’ve ever made. Once you change your spending habits, you`ll be less beholden to the whims of corporate hegemony.
Hopefully the day will never come when you are forced to live on half your current pay, but why wait for that day? If have a $100,000 salary now, just image the reduction in pressure knowing that if you were displaced tomorrow you could accept a job that pays a $50,000 salary while you search or work your way up to a $100,000 one.
Yes, these are different times, and different times call for different measures.
Robert Gatewood, MBA is host of the #Marketing Pulpit Radio Show. He is also president of Gatewood Marketing and Gatewood Web Services. He is also a public speaker, author and freelance writer.