So I was either fired or I quit my job Friday. It depends on the perspective you tend to take on it. Regardless, I have no job now.
My husband just changed jobs, so is without health insurance. He was going to join mine until his kicked in. My son just started preschool – at a whopping $1050 a month for half days. And I am 4 months pregnant.
It is, to say the least, a terrible time for this to happen. The most bizarre part of it all? I worked for my parents.
People think I’m a trust fund baby. I went to a private school (with many trust fund babies), and had my college fully paid for by my parents. My parents have millions. But I don’t have trust fund money. All the money we have was earned and saved and invested by my husband and I. None of it was gifted (except for some birthday or Christmas money here or there from aunts and grandparents), all of it was earned.
I spent my entire childhood, from the time I was born until the time I graduated high school working at my parents company. I scrubbed the floors when I was 4, typed invoices when I was 8. I went directly from preschool/elementary school/middle school – directly to the office which was my playground. I never realized what I was missing until I began taking my son to the playground – the real playground – every day after preschool. I never jumped, never slid, never monkey barred. I made forts with desks and practiced 10-key (I’m very good at it). I told my husband the other day, I wish I got to play as a kid.
Immediately after Christmas break during my first year of college, I got a phone call telling me my dad had fired my mom. She didn’t know if they were staying together, didn’t know what kind of money she would have. My dad is very volatile. He is calm one minute, and will cut you down the next. Unfortunately, his method of control is to control money – how much, when you will get it, so forth. One time he threw the book at my brother – meaning he listed every expense from birth until current he paid for him to live. Years of school, food, housing. Childhood and parenthood, all of a sudden condensed into a pile of numbers that was owed to my dad for giving life to my brother. Needless to say, my brother did not speak to him for a few years after that.
When I got that phone call, I knew that even if I was lucky enough to come through that latest family drama unscathed, my college paid for, I would never, ever be able to trust my family with money again. At 18, I decided I couldn’t count on anyone else, and immediately found a job. I was the only one of my siblings to work through college.
By 21 I was a full-time cocktail server and full-time student. I graduated in March of that year, and immediately became independent of my parents. I never received any financial help from them after that, and I was proud that I never carried debt, could work like a horse and never counted on them for anything.
As time went on, I forgot about the family drama – being as I was thousands of miles away. My family is quite lovely when you only see them twice a year. I became homesick and wanted to move back. I forgot about the promise I made to myself because I was living it – I didn’t need their money.
Fast forward 6 years later. Married and looking to start a family, my husband and I moved home. Living on an island in the middle of the sea is very expensive, and all of my friends who have moved back have needed family assistance in some way or another. We were no different, plus I was looking forward to working at the office I grew up in. I forgot all the strings that were attached to money, because I had lived without them for so many years. My parents were eager to help, and slowly my husband and I loosened our hold on the financial independence we have so firmly had, and slowly let them help us. It was small things at first – letting us rent one of their rentals for a slight discount, letting us borrow my sister’s old car. I worked for them and drew a small salary, with great benefits like having a fully paid cellphone and health insurance. Then the small things became bigger when I got pregnant and had a baby- they disagreed with me driving their grandson around in my sister’s old beater and insisted on trading it in for a new car. We got a Prius which we love, and named it Reggie. Then again, my family decided that since I was the youngest one, I should be the one to get a membership at a private club that my sister and brother had wanted to get – they were too old to qualify for the discounted admission rate. I was not. The company paid for the admission fees, and we agreed to split the dues.
When I went back to work 2 months after I gave birth, my son came with me because, well, it was all family in the office. I had a conversation with my dad, and I told him that since I was in and out of the office with the baby, I would cut my salary in half. He told me not to worry about it, because as long as I was getting all the work I needed to get done – whether physically at the office or at home – I should still pull my full salary. I said I just wanted to be fair, and he said to leave it the way it was, and to use the extra money for the baby.
I felt weird about that then, and I should have listened to my inner voice telling me to just half the salary. I felt strings tugging at me. I hadn’t been happy working there after all but felt I couldn’t leave (I worked with my dad, mom and brother…seriously who spends that much time with their family – especially when you don’t really have a close connection to any of them?) because it would be a slap in the face to them. I now had this giant money string, a promise made by my dad that I was extremely wary about. When would he pull it?
I didn’t let myself think about that, since I was busy with a baby and work. I was terribly unhappy having to split the time between motherhood and work; imagine trying to be a good mother when your inbox is full and the baby is crying, or trying to be a good employee when the baby is crying and your inbox is full. It was a stressful balance. I would take the baby in the morning to the office, come home for his nap, and return when he woke up to try to get more things done. It was pt to the max. But the money was secure, and we included that into our monthly budget. We made decisions based on having a secure income like that – I mean after all, a promise was a promise right? It was like negotiating a salary. You can’t take that away. So I thought.
My husband and I often talked about how wrapped up financially we were with the company. We owned one car ourselves, but the other wasn’t ours. My health insurance was paid for (as was all employees plus their families – part of employment), cell phones were paid for, job was had. But we never did anything about it. We were content so far with that security, and made the decision to send our son to preschool so I could concentrate on work more without him being there.
Then things went to hell. My brother left town, angry and fed up over the way the my father treated him. He was on anti-depressants and stress medication from having to deal with my dad and mom all day every day. The last time that my dad and brother got into a tiff that caused my brother to disappear for a few years, my dad took it out on my mom by firing her. This time he took it out on me.
He decided that it wasn’t fair to be paying for half the dues of the membership as he had agreed. I said fine, we’ll pick it up in total then. Then he decided that it wasn’t fair to pay for my husband to have health insurance for 2 months, since they were paying for my son and I (regardless of the fact that the other employees had fully paid family plans). I said fine, so you consider me pt now? He said yes, he did. And my salary should reflect pt, and should be cut in half. ”I was the one who originally told you that we would pay you full time so I will take responsibility for that…but in retrospect I feel it would be proper to cut your salary in half.”
I went from making $39,600 a year to $19,600 – minus an additional $100/month for the club fees he decided not to pay, and an additional $400/month for health insurance for my husband. I went from a take home of $2440/month, to a take home of $720/month after my new added expenses. I could not believe it. I could not believe he would half my salary on a whim, not when I was 4 months pregnant with a toddler in school. But he did.
I sat in my office chair and did my work. My husband and I decided to just plod along until I found a new job – if I could find a job while pregnant. Then they decided to talk to me about it, and my dad denied ever telling me that I could draw my ft salary when I was at the office pt. He denied telling me that he took responsibility for changing his mind – even though I had it in email. I’m sorry to say I blew up. He told me that if I wasn’t going to be calm and understanding about it and respect my elders, I should just leave. I told him he just fired me then, and he said it was my choice. I told him he just fired me, and he said fine, it’s my choice.
I don’t have a job now. I know I should have bit my tongue and respected my elders…but I couldn’t do that. I was tired of being the child they took their anger out on, was tired of being third best. I was tired of being known as the daughter that makes pretty children, as opposed to my sister the smart one and my brother the gregarious son. When I was in high school, their verbal and emotional abuse was so bad I was bulimic and tried to cut myself every night. I would try to use my nails, and would have angry scratched on my arms that didn’t break skin. They never noticed. It was different now…now they had fucked with my family. My husband and son had just gotten dragged into a money control situation that was so similar to what I had vowed never to let happen to me when I was 18. There were always strings attached to money, and now those strings were creating a noose around our necks. Goes to show you, don’t forget the promises you make to yourself. They’re important.
We took the car back and my husband gave them back the keys. We still live in their rental house, and still pay rent. I need to transfer the cell phone numbers over from the business plan to a family plan for us. We need to apply for COBRA with my husband’s old company, until his new insurance kicks in. He’ll have to pay for 25% of himself and 100% of me and my son – I’m going to see if I qualify for a state-run medical plan since I’m pregnant (they had special ones for pregnant ladies). We have savings, but not enough to last more than 6 months – the problem being that when our savings runs out, I will have given birth and won’t be able to find a new job for a bit. So somehow, our savings will have to last a year when in actuality we have 6 months worth. I thought we were doing great on our Emergency Fund – but $25K won’t go far when you factor in health insurance for 3 people ($1200/month) and medical costs for a pregnancy and delivery. My husband just took a pay cut so he could study for his exams more – our family now brings in about $32,000/year. Federal poverty guidelines indicate that the Hawaii poverty line limits for a family of 3 are $21,320. We are awfully close to those limits.
I don’t know who will hire me, being as I’m 4 months pregnant. My husband is so freaked out about our lack of money he has stopped eating. We don’t qualify for WIC because we have assets – but we’re not touching our retirement money. I suppose I’ll have to cash out our stocks (damn Netflix and Pandora for dropping so badly), which will be about $10K. Maybe less after taxes. I might qualify for state run health insurance. Welfare, I suppose.
Is it funny to anyone else how millionaires could have children on welfare?
This was all my fault. I had told myself years ago never to count on my parents for money. Slowly, over the last three years, we’ve become more and more dependent on the benefits I was receiving. Those benefits have snapped, and now I’m kicking myself for not remembering the promise I made to myself. Money is control, and those who have it control it. Now my family is left in the dark wondering what the hell to do.
I am the child of multi-millionaires, and I might be going on welfare. Isn’t it strange.
Please friends, learn from my mistake.
Have an emergency fund that’s more than 6 months worth, and take into account how much health insurance premiums for your whole family will be. I didn’t think about that.
A job is NEVER stable. No matter what or who it is with. Keep your resume updated at all times.
Depend on yourself, and only yourself. Benefits are great, but be aware that they could end any day.
Millionaires have wealth, but it doesn’t always mean they have wealth of the heart.
Keep those that mean the most to you close to your heart. They will be the ones to go with you through the mess.
Through it all, we are keeping our son smiling. He’s a giggly guy, and will grow up well, regardless of how much money we have. Our greatest accomplishment will be if our children can be happy in life. That’s all we want for them. Isn’t that what all parents should want for their kids?