What’s Your Plan "B"?

I don’t speak about work on this blog much, and that’s on purpose.  It’s not because I know that some of my coworkers read this blog (hi!), it’s because I like to separate church and state if you will.  This is one of the rare times when they will collide and you get to reap the benefits.

I love my job.  I love the people that I work with.  They are an awesome bunch of people that are like my extended family.  Like any family, we have people that resemble the seven dwarfs: Grumpy, Dopey, Happy, Doc, Sleepy and the other two that I can’t remember.  People are my job tend to be “lifers” and while I love it here, I know that I also need to have a Plan B just in case things change.

What Is A Plan B?

Call it what you want but a Plan B is something that you can count on for income beyond your job just in case your company begins laying people off.  You might hear it called different things like a side hustle or alternative income or revenue stream.  Whatever you call it, it’s a back-up plan, and if you don’t already have one, you should begin thinking of one right now.
We should all have learned from the recession that you should never dedicate yourself to one income stream unless it has the potential to make you a serious amount of cash and you live really cheaply.  Too many people found out that if they depend on just their jobs for income, and the company suddenly goes belly up like, say, Lehman Brothers, there is nothing to rely on except unemployment insurance and there is a finite amount of time that you can collect it.  Millions of people have met the two year limit and now have no reliable source of income to depend on.

How Do You Develop Your Plan B?

When I am asked this question I always ask another question back.  Think, what would you do if someone in your HR department was kind enough to tell you that you will be losing your job in six months? If you had that much warning, what do you think that you would need to do to prepare?  Let’s forget job hunting, we already know that you will do that.  But, if you had a six month lead time what preparation would you have in place to ensure that your family is able to weather the storm?

I’ll list out what came to mind for me.

  • Determine the minimum amount of money that you need to survive.
    I am talking the barest minimum of what will keep a roof over your head, your home heated, gas in the car and food in your belly (we’re not talking steaks either).  This will come in handy for the other things on this list.
  • Save as much as possible.
    We should be doing this anyway, but in trying to slay our debt, sometimes we put saving money on the back burning (typo, but it stays).  It’s a hard balancing act, but we have to save while trying to reduce debt.  I know that it’s easier said than done.
  • Speaking of debt, reduce that to a manageable level.
    Manageable is different for everyone, but I would want to know that my unemployment insurance would at least cover the minimum payments on my debt.
  • Make healthcare plans.
    If you don’t have your company’s healthcare anymore, would you be able to pay for COBRA or are there other medical benefits that you are able to qualify for? Perhaps a spouse’s plan?
  • Assess your housing situation.
    If you need to downsize, this might be the right time to do that.
  • Develop my talents.
    If I could complete some kind of certification course in the six month period or take a class or two that could shore up my skills, this is when I would plan on doing it.  You should always work on improving your education to make yourself as marketable as possible without breaking the bank.  I don’t think that going back to school for another degree is always worth it, but I find continuing education classes or classes at my local community college helpful.
  • Explore ways of making money that has nothing to do with my job.
    This is probably where I would end up last.  I like building websites and blogs and I’ve had the occasional client through family members or friends of friends, but I haven’t explored it as a real potential revenue stream.  I could do that in case of an emergency.

What Does It Add Up To?

I know that based on my earnings from this blog, the meager income from my rental home, and what I would be able to get from unemployment insurance, I should be okay while I job hunt to find another full-time job. I wouldn’t be living high on the hog, and there wouldn’t be steaks and sushi for dinner, but I would be able to survive without being out on the street.  If I add in what I would potentially make from building one website a month, I should be close to what my take home pay from my regular job currently is.

I know that you’re thinking, why don’t you just do that now?  Simple.  You’re forgetting all of the added benefits that come with your job.  A stable income and peace of mind is probably the most of important factor of having a regular job.  Add in healthcare coverage, disability insurance, contributions to my 401(k) and other perquisites (perks) and it adds up to much more than your take home pay.  Plus, we have forgotten our friend the tax man.

Making Plans

If you haven’t already done so, sit down with your spouse today and develop your Plan B.  It can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like, but just be sure to have one.  Remember, you can never predict what will happen at your job, no matter how much you love it.

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15 thoughts on “What’s Your Plan "B"?

  • Everyone needs to have a plan B in this economy. No job is truly stable anymore and we all need to plan in advance. It’s much better to have a plan than being without one when there is a crisis.

  • I think the best plan B for me would be a good hefty amount of savings. At least then I’d know that I still can keep my house, pay, my bills and look for a job, instead of being on a bench in some park.

  • I developed my “Plan B” back in 2003. I had been working in the IT business for years, until the dot-com bust pretty much destroyed the tech job market, at least in the Midwest. I made a complete “job overhaul” and traded in my pocket protector for a flannel shirt, and got a commercial driver’s license in order to drive trucks. I’ve been pretty much employed ever since. It’s not a glamourous way of life – but the income is fairly constant. College kids burdened with student debt and unable to find work may have to consider searching outside of their chosen fields. This might mean getting into the trenches with unglamourous work – a “Plan B”.

    • I don’t think that people think too much about going in a complete opposite direction. Good for you for being courageous. It’s a good way to increase your chances of being employable too.

      Good job!

  • Both my wife and I work, so if one of us loses our jobs, we should be able to manage for a long time before needing to get a job. If I were really desperate though, I would consider talking to friends to let us move in with them. 🙂 It would be hard, but worth the huge savings.

  • I’ve been saving my money in case of an emergency for about 2 years now, and I think that I will be ok if I were to lose my job.

    That being said, even though I like my job and get some satisfaction from it, I also want to take time off to explore the world. Not sure if that is a plan B, but it’s something that I’d like to do, one day.

  • I totally agree, and like the attention you’re giving this subject. This is why it’s important to ignore the advice of keeping only 3 to 6 months expenses in an emergency fund, and try to push toward 9 to 12. Things can and do happen, even out of the blue, despite our best intentions. That’s a big part of having a Plan B.

    You bring up other great points, and I’m glad you discussed health insurance here. That’s an area that needs to be one of the first ones addressed and accounted for. If COBRA is used, it’s costly and will require significant money. Being uninsured ratchets up costs significantly.

    I think that the lack of a Plan B, so to speak, is what can really derail a lot of people financially.

    • An emergency fund should be the beginning of a Plan B. Everyone forgets about healthcare. COBRA is an option but it’s really, really expensive and I know that I couldn’t afford it. I’ve already scoped out pricing at my local clinics. It’s a start.

  • Everyone “should” have a plan B. I have always believed in multiple revenue streams and currently have this now. Great job identifying the steps someone should take when laying out his/her plan B. Your list is spot on and are things that everyone should think about.

  • Weird. My wife and I just figured out our disaster plans if I lost my job or if she lost her job. Looks like we have to cut back on our personal spending money that’s all.

  • My plan B is that I just don’t have that many expenses. We do live in a rather expensive home, yes, but aside from that, there’s not that much. I could survive off of a minimum wage job if need be, but probably won’t need be. College is finished, no kids, and nothing huge coming up except for a wedding, but we both agreed we’re not going insane there. 😉

    I also work in an industry and live in a city where it’s very easy to get another job. Even within the recession they were hiring. I also live in a dual-income household and we both have significant savings built up since graduation 4 years ago, so we have a good buffer. I’m fortunate to have these opportunities!

      • When I grew up, I was kicked out from school after school in the middle of the grade because my family situation was so unstable. After my mom remarried when I was 9, we stayed in another place for a few years until we went bankrupt. Then I think we moved 2-3 times after that and in my mid-teens I started to completely rebel because I was thinking more for myself, and I saw that they did not have anyone’s interests at heart except for their own.

        When you have the money to pay for alcohol and cigarettes and thousands of dollars on black market satellites, and money to go out to bars and social events many days of the week, but you can’t even pay your mortgage and can’t even buy school supplies and provide a stable life for your kid, it says a lot about your priorities.

        This experience while growing up has had a very strong impact on me, and I have a big aversion to getting in that kind of situation where I would be wiped out if I didn’t have income for a couple of months! I am very fortunate right now, but I did not want to be trapped in that cycle so I pushed to get myself out of it.

  • My Plan B was rather simple: save as much cash as possible and begin looking for a job. Any job. Now, after reading this, my Plan B has changed to include checking out insurance options and bringing in more freelance income.

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