My Employer Just Liberated Me From My Job! Now What?

There’s been some turbulence at my nine-to-five workplace. Funding was tight, but it looked as though I’d survive any downsizing.

Well, things got worse. My project was hit hard, and the surrounding projects were hit even harder.

I found out two weeks ago that my number was up. Without a billable project to call home, my employer had no choice but to let me go.

While it feels kind of good to be freed from this nine-to-five job I’ve held onto for 14 years, the feeling won’t last long.

Don’t Worry, I’m Not Retired Yet

If you read enough early retirement blogs, you wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote a post called, “Fired to FIRE’d: How I Lost My Job But Said F-You And Retired At Age 42 To Kick Life’s Ass!” or something silly like that.

Then I’d get a sweet feature on Business Insider and maybe CNBC and I’d take my family to Guatemala or Myanmar and start a travel blog. Then internet trolls would call bullshit and I’d give them the middle finger and still pursue my true passion of blogging full-time, to which the trolls can suck it because if you love what you do you’ll never work day in your life.

So I would totally be ‘retired’, but still work. Makes sense, right?

Well, that’s not going to happen. My working years are not over. Mrs. RBD stays at home. We have three kids under the age of six. We are still planning to pay for their college educations. Shit, we still have 3 years of pre-school tuition left to pay.

The kids still eat, play t-ball, and go to summer camp. And we still live in an expensive city suburb with a mortgage. Unless we move to achieve financial independence, I ain’t retired yet.

Yeah, I hope to reach F.I.B.E.R. to pursue passion projects.

The reality is I’m unemployed today and planning/hoping to go back to full-time work sometime in the not-so-far-away future.

In the meantime, this is a marvelous opportunity to enjoy myself and make the most of the time off.

The Threat of a Job Loss Made Me Happy

I have to admit, when the stability of my project became shaky during the summer, I felt kind of happy about it. I’ve never been thrilled with my previous employer. My career trajectory had kind of flattened. I’ve needed a change but was too content to make a move.

The realist in me said that wasn’t the path of least resistance to financial independence. Plus, we’re a single income family. Four other people rely on me for health care, food and shelter, and education etc.

So I stuck it out, hoping my job would carry on as normal.

But the other side of my brain was thinking wait a minute

You’ve been preparing for this kind of event for the past 14 years… saving, investing, and putting money aside for the day the rain comes. You’re ready for this. Let it pour!

I was 100% prepared for a layoff. So much so that I did kind of want it to happen. Because I have so much going on outside of my nine-to-five that would appreciate more attention. Family. DIY projects. An endless to-do list. And, of course, my side business.

This blog and my other website take up a ton of time outside of work hours. Without a full-time job or commute, I can allocate a shitload more time to my online entrepreneurial pursuits.

Usually, I scramble to finish blog posts Wednesday night so they publish Thursday morning. Writing for RBD, Access IPOs and now USNews takes up so much time that there’s little left for blog maintenance and projects beyond weekly articles. The bonus time is welcome.

So Yeah, I was Sorta Laid Off

So what happened? Long-time readers might remember how I left my cushy job almost two years ago to expand my earning potential and try something new. Had I stayed on the old project, I’d still be employed.

The new project was exciting and staffed with more motivated individuals. The work over the past two years was more fulfilling. No regrets switching projects whatsoever.

This summer our team got word that our project would not be extended. That was fine as there are many other projects. I was informed by upper management that they’d place me elsewhere to make sure my expertise and many years of experience would continue to be put to good use.

But other projects tumbled. I’ve always been a subcontractor employed by a small business. It quickly became more difficult for our partnering company (a much larger organization) to justify keeping me over one of their employees. When the partnering company couldn’t carry me anymore, I knew my employer wouldn’t be able to either.

They gave me three days notice.

So after 14 years of working for the same company, I said goodbye last week. I turned in my computer equipment and walked away from the weight of 14 years of emails, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations.

Since leaving, the mood at home has been peaceful.

Technically, I resigned. The owner knew he couldn’t keep me on, but didn’t have the nerve to say so. I had to step up and do the dirty work. There’s plenty more to the story but I best keep it off the internet.

Now What?

As the situation was deteriorating, I wrote a post called Intoxicated By The Romance Of The Unusual. Knowing this layoff was possible, I wrote this:

When times are bad, it’s fend for yourself. The day you lose your job you can either wait in the line at the unemployment office or be determined to make that day one of the most pivotal in your life.

I don’t intend to file for unemployment benefits. Since I have income from a side business, that could restrict my eligibility anyways. Even though I’ve paid into the state program for the past 14 years, I don’t need the benefit and don’t want to be held to whatever standard is required to continue to receive it. Spending time to find out if I qualify could waste precious hours.

I’d rather use this free time to knock of to-do list items.

A few years ago, I told my wife that we had enough money to be secure for the rest of our lives. Our money situation is no longer about survival, but about how wealthy we will become. We are financially secure, if not financially independent. Maybe we haven’t hit our ultimate “FI” number yet, but we have plenty of money to weather this storm and others.

Look at my portfolio and you’ll get a sense of what’s available in my taxable accounts. That doesn’t include cash savings, retirement accounts, real estate crowdfunding, or peer to peer lending accounts.

And there’s always money in the banana stand!

More importantly, I’ve built passive income over the years on top of growing income from my side business. As of last quarter, my passive income streams provide $768 per month or around $9,200 per year. That’s a decent baseline.

Of course, I’ll be drawing down some cash and may be forced to sell some investments if this unemployment situation persists. But barring a major economic or political catastrophe, the job market should be welcoming.

In fact, if tax reform is passed by the U.S. Government by the end of the year, it could be a major boon for the markets and economy. Realistically, tax reform could fail too. Markets would panic, the job market could tighten, and I’d be out of luck.

But I’m going to remain an optimist.

OK, Really, Now What?

I’m free, to do what I want, any old time. – The Rolling Stones (via The Soup Dragons for my generation)

So what am I actually going to do? My list of priorities is all over the place.

Take/pick up kids to/from preschool/bus stop every day

I love doing this and they love it when I’m there. The bus stop is a little neighborhood happy hour. Morning drop-off at the girls’ preschool is the most joyful 10 minutes of my day.

Help with meals and shopping

Mealtime is the absolute worst for my wife when she is alone with the kids. It’s chaos. Hard to explain if you don’t have kids. I’m planning to help out there whenever I can.


No brainer. I’m going to use this time to work on my health. I have a tentative weight loss goal to shrink my mini-gut and lower my cholesterol readings. My wife doesn’t think I have 12 pounds to lose because I’m already kind of lean. But I want to try and see if I feel healthier at a lower weight.

Swimming, light weight training, biking, and diet will be my pillars of good health.

Spend Time on My Side Business

The biggest reason I want to take some time off is to work on my blogs. There’s always more to do. More to write, market, modify, optimize, initialize, and write again. I’ll be spending at least 40 hours a week on this thing, hopefully, a lot more.

Regular readers and subscribers won’t see much of a difference at first. I’m still planning to publish once a week and hope to get ahead on posts so I’m not scrambling to publish each week. But I may do a site redesign, upgrade my email subscription service, and write more content optimized for search traffic on top of the usual.


For the third year in a row, I’ll be attending the FinCon financial bloggers conference in Dallas this month. The conference is a perfect venue to meet with bloggers and potential partners to help grow my business. It’s the only ‘business trip’ I take each year away from my family. I’ll miss them, but it’s a welcome break from our chaotic household.

Most of all, FinCon is a damn good time. If you’re reading this and plan to be there, let’s definitely connect!


Decluttering will be a major theme over the coming months. All that clutter used to be money, so maybe I’ll be able to sell some and toss the rest. Our basement is a disaster. The baseball cards have got to go. The toys are overwhelming. Who knows, maybe I’ll find another long lost autographed magazine.

The more you own, the more it weighs you down (thank you Jamie Lannister for that one).

Home DIY Projects and To-Dos

Mrs. RBD has been nagging (yes, I went there) me to paint our kitchen for five years. It’s a dark green and she wants to brighten it up with a light gray. It’s a three-coat job and will take a significant effort, preferably when the kids are out of the house. Now that is possible.

There are a few plumbing drips to address, regular lawn and yard maintenance, and some wood to chop. We’re also long overdue to finish our estate plan. Yeah, I know, bad form.

Doctors’ Appointments

Now’s a great time to catch up on doctors’ appointments for both for me and Mrs. RBD. Since I was let go at the beginning of October, our coverage continues until the end of the month. Starting in November, we’ll go on COBRA which continues the same coverage. The cost isn’t cheap, but I’ve factored the amount into our monthly budget.

With three kids, there is no compromise with healthcare in my view. I’ll return the COBRA forms the day after I receive them.

Look for New Job Opportunities

I intend to keep an open mind when searching for new positions. This should be an good opportunity to refresh my career with a better employer and more fulfilling work. I do have one or two job leads in motion, but they are not immediate. Unemployment nationwide is below 5% and much lower for college-educated professionals in this region.

Before jumping into full-on job search mode, I’ll take a few weeks to enjoy life without constantly updating my resume.


Maybe I’m a little over-optimistic about the next few months. As long as the job market and economy remain stable, another full-time work opportunity should be available, hopefully by the beginning of 2018. I’ll heavily weigh salary vs. benefits and expect benefits to win more favor this time around.

The last time I had so much freedom I was broke, unemployed, and living with my parents. I consider this a once in 14-year opportunity. As such, I’m not going to squander my newly discovered free time. 14 years from now, my oldest child will be in college and the younger two will be very close. I should be fully retired (I’ll be 56), and Mrs. RBD and I will be planning our sojourns around the globe.

Two years ago, I might have thought of this as more of a crisis than opportunity. I’ve made significant changes to my life since then, namely improving cash flow and building income streams. Goes to show it doesn’t take a long time to empower yourself for when adversity hits.

The challenge now is to take full advantage of this opportunity so I emerge even stronger.

I’ve never been laid off before. Have you experienced this? Am I too optimistic or am I right to be excited?

Photo credit: Pablo Heimplatz via Unsplash
Photo credit: Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

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  1. I like your upbeat attitude on this event. I think that you will do well, with whatever direction you choose – more blogging, another career ot something else

    1. Thank DGI. Things are good for now. And yes, moving my 401(k) out of my old plan is top on the list. I already have that mapped out. Just waiting for the final paycheck then it will take another 7-10 days (they tell me) before I can initialize it.

  2. Very excited for you on your next chapter of FIRE. Can’t wait to meet you at FinCon in a few weeks.

    1. Tawcan,
      Yeah, my attitude will be a lot different at FinCon as opposed to still working full time. Can keep an open mind to opportunities and maybe even seek some out. Overall, spirits are high. I think back to when I was broke, unemployed and living with my parents and all the opportunities at my fingertips at that stage in my life. Hoping to make the best of this. See you in Dallas.

  3. Bryan,
    I’ve read about your experiences with these things and it surely helps to remain positive. Perhaps I’m overly positive at this point. As time goes on, I expect to start feeling the pinch to get back to work. For now, we’re in pretty good shape through the end of the year. So I’m going to enjoy it.

  4. Congratulations! I’ve never been laid off, but I did resign from a toxic job in December to take a five-month (wonderful) seasonal job. When my contract ended in early May, I experienced a similar euphoric feeling. Good job developing such a detailed action plan and having your priorities (i.e., family) in the right place.

    We had a decent financial base and my wife was still working, so we decided it was a great time for me to start my own business. One thing that made my wife infinitely more comfortable with unemployment/self-employment was that I got up with her each morning and didn’t sleep in. That helped her not resent having to still go to work until maternity leave kicked in a few months later (she was 5 months’ pregnant and is now enjoying being a stay-at-home mom).

    1. Hey Karl,
      Luckily, my job wasn’t toxic. My employer was at times, but the person who made it toxic left earlier in the year. So it was actually pretty good aside from the crappy 401k, so so benefit, and general mediocrity of the company that I’ve dealt with over the years. A high quality employer will be a top priority this next round.

      Way to keep your wife in mind while you went through this. My plan was to wake up before my wife and kids to get work done. Unfortunately, we have a few sicknesses going around which has made for many late-night awakenings. So I’m working on finding my routine mojo. If we can kick these viruses/bacterical infections running through the house, I’ll be more productive.

  5. It sounds like this is the change you’ve needed. I know you’ve seen it looming for a while now, but never pulled the trigger. I’m positive it will lead to bigger and better things. Being let go by my job of 20+ years was the best thing to happen to me. Good luck!

    1. Brian,
      That’s encouraging to hear. I’ve said before that leaving this job would be the best thing for me. But I never did for security reasons, and because the money was good for a long time. This is definitely what I needed. I’m 9 days into it now and my view hasn’t changed.

  6. TheRetirementManifesto says:

    Wait, you’re moving to Myanmar?! Great attitude, and a perfect example of the benefits that being focus on Financial Independence bring to “every day life” (like getting laid off!). Keep the positive attitude, I’m sure you’ll land the perfect job when it’s meant to be. In the meantime, enjoy this sabbatical, you’ve worked 14 years for it, so take some time to smell the roses.

    Look forward to meeting you in Dallas!

    1. Thanks Fritz. I’ve been smelling the roses for 9 days now and it’s more like stinky diapers and toddler puke. Good for my wife to have an extra set of hands to deal with all the germs around the house. Now she’s caught something. Still learning how to plan out my days and optimize my time. I’ve had some successes so far, but needs work. FinCon is always a motivational experience. We’ll come away from that ready to conquer the world!

  7. I’m sorry to hear about the job loss, but it sounds like it might have been the right time to seek something new. It seems like everyone is hiring right now in our area, so no shortage of opportunities. Enjoy the space between for now. See you in Dallas!

    1. That’s how I feel about it. Unemployment is super-low especially in my field in my city. It’s a matter of finding the right opportunity and not jumping on the first one that comes around. Oh, and I have something to tell you about in Dallas. Has to do with the third floor of a certain historical building 🙂

  8. That sucks about your situation 7 years ago. Glad to hear you’ve learned from the experience. Back in 2003 when I started working this gig, I saw some workers who were in their 40’s and 50’s and were laid off and had very little to land on. I vowed to not let the decisions of bureaucrats effect my life. That’s partly why I’ve built up my savings and income streams over the years.

    The highlight of this experience will be the extra time I can spend with our kids. So far, being able to drop them off at school has been great. A few other Dad’s are there, but not many. I feel fortunate that I can be there. I’m also less stressed out from not having a commute anymore. So I can control the temptation to loss my cool when chaos ensues in my household, which happens every few minutes, most recently over who gets which Halloween coloring book.

  9. I got laid off earlier this year, which sucked because I really liked working with everyone on my team. But the writing was on the wall. New leadership who didn’t like that I was smart and assertive, so they decided to gut the entire team (more people got laid off after me). Backfired anyway and he got fired a few months later…but in the moment it really sucked.

    Looking back, I’m thankful. I’d about done all of the noteworthy things I would have done so long as leadership in that company was the way it was shaping out to be. I’m now making more money, working less, and exploring a new industry.

    It sounds like you’ll be just fine and have a great plan for how to spend your time productively 🙂

    1. I read your piece about working from home and I can definitely relate. Especially the distractions. I worked at home once or twice a week at my old gig. But now it’s every day. The distractions are bad. I really need to work on eliminating them. But I still need to eat, shower, help with the kids. The best thing I can do is go to the library. Helps me focus on writing only.

      Here’s that piece I mentioned: https://www.marriedwithmoney.com/pros-and-cons-of-working-from-home/

  10. Two weeks after turning 50 I was downsized from a job that became toxic, it was my first job loss since I had a paper route at age 13. I had worked at that company for 14 years and thought I was immune because I was having a good year; it was August of 2009. The economy was in the tank and my boss just drove away in my company F-150 with my laptop and BlackBerry. I had a 3 year non compete contract, a non-disclosure agreement, and 13 weeks of severance pay. But severance wouldn’t kick in for 6 months, they hoped I would breach the non compete and avoid payment. My ex boss couldn’t take away my customer list, network or my industry experience.

    Despite the worst economy in 50 years, I became self employed without violating the non compete. I received a lot of encouragement from folks in my network but the timing was perfect. It was the best thing that happened to me besides marriage and the births of my two daughters. My income increased and I’m so much happier than before. I don’t dread Sunday evenings as I look forward to the week ahead. I no longer have to waste time on redundant reports, conference calls and forecasts. I can devote more time to customers and building my business.

    Self employment is not the answer for everyone and there is no way I would have done it without being laid off. But with advice from a trusted colleague, customers who wanted to do business with me, and obtaining trade credit from a supplier, I was in business and haven’t looked back. Failure was not an option. My other issues were turning 50 and the thought of being last hired/first fired. Also, I became disillusioned with the corporate world guided by managers who’s main concern was getting their bonus through financial tricks that caused customers to find other suppliers. And they always find one.

    Good luck with your new venture, you already think like an entrepreneur, so consult with your colleagues and trust your gut.

    1. Jimbo,
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. This is an encouraging comment. You situation of an oppressive employer sounds familiar. I’ve considered entrepreneurship in my 9-5 field, and it is still an option. However, I don’t love my work enough to stay motivated. It’s a crappy business model, especially for small businesses (as evidenced from my layoff). My employer took quite a hit too after purchasing a business they thought would provide solid cash flow. This was a surprise. So for me to go into this business as an owner just doesn’t appeal to me. What does appeal to me is building the business I’ve already started on the side, my online writing. I enjoy it which makes it far more sustainable and I wake up every day excited to work on it.

      What also appeals to me is working for a high-quality employer. After so many years of working for a mediocre employer, I really want the benefits and support of a bigger company. That may come with some trade-offs, most notably, I may have less time to work on my blogs. That would be disappointing, but I should still be able to write one or two articles per week no matter what my time constraints are. I wouldn’t completely give up my online business, so I need to find an employer that is cool with it. Most should be, I think, or I wouldn’t want to work for them anyways.

  11. This may come off wrong, but I really enjoyed reading this. LOL. I am sorry about your job loss, but I am most confident you will be better off because of it. That is quite evident from the post. I look forward to reading about the good that comes from it and what you end up doing. I love your positive attitude.

    I was laid off in 2015 as the head of a single-income household with an 18-month-old and another bun in the over. We were not in nearly as great of financial position as you are now and it was quite a challenging time. I tried to remain positive, but admittedly, the negative emotions got the best of me at times. I will, however, forever cherish those 6 months at home with my young son and caring for my pregnant wife. In situations like these, they are what we make of them and it sounds like you are making the best of it. All the best to you and your family during this time.

    1. Cody,
      Thanks for sharing your experience and for the encouraging words. My youngest is almost 2 1/2. Had this happened when our first was 18 months and the second was ready to pop, my attitude would certainly be different. Probably a bit more panicked. I’m worried I’m too positive right now. Like I said, it feels very good. But I worry if I have no leads by January I’ll start to become frustrated. Or if the job market reverses, my timing could be very poor. I’m thankful I have this blog to focus on while I’m off. If I were solely updating my resume all day every day and dealing with recruiters, I’d be miserable.

  12. Damn good time to reflect on things! Let’s do some of that with beer in our hands later this month 🙂

  13. Interesting timing. I’m in a similar situation, only I left a good job for a new job that wasn’t what it was positioned to be, so after a few months, I’m leaving. Fortunately, I’ve been saving diligently for more than a few years now, so I’ve got enough that I don’t have to panic and can take my time finding the right next move.

    Enjoy your time off. It’s a rare and precious thing!

    1. Thanks! It is rare. In the past 14 years, I’ve taken a few 2-week vacations, and one 3-week vacation for our wedding and honeymoon. But nothing else very significant. After 9 days the novelty is wearing off, so I need to keep in mind that this is precious time. Sucks to hear you left a good job for a worse one. Ideally, I would have found something to leave me job for, before getting laid off. The writing was on the wall, but I chose to ride out the situation I was in. That decision was in part due to looking forward to the time off. Time will tell if this was wise or not.

  14. I am sure I’m in the minority but I’d elevate job search to the number one position. The best way to get where you eventually want to be is to save money and the sooner and bigger the checks start rolling in again the sooner that happens. As a former employer of hundreds I steered away from people with employment gaps. Most of my fellow hiring managers felt the same. A week or two won’t hurt but I wouldn’t advise taking more time off than that. I know it shouldn’t matter too a potential employer but it does.

    1. Steve,
      I appreciate your opinion on this. This has been on my mind as a potential mistake I’m making. Yeah, a couple weeks is no big deal. But a sizable gap can hurt. I had one back in 2001-2002 and I had to explain I was off traveling. No hiring manager was interested in hearing that. Luckily, the gig I got required a rare software experience I had that was hard to find.

      In my case now, I have a much better network than I did when I was younger. My 14 years of experience with one employer working under the same large entity is a plus. I intend to start my search in a very specific niche where my contacts are strong and experience exceeds most applicants. So I have some advantages in my back pocket that’s I’m confident will help at lot. If I choose to go in a completely different direction, the gap would hurt more.

      Either way, I’m not ready to start word-smithing my resume and dealing with recruiters just yet. But it’s not too far off in the future.

  15. Good luck RBD. I’m sure you’ll be fine. One of the perks of this FIBRE (I’m totally going to start using that – is there a licensing fee 😉 movement is that we are always evaluating and thinking what if. We have the ability to adjust to changing circumstances. One thing you might consider is a book about the transition from the conventionally employed to the unconventionally unemployed. That is something I would buy.

    Looking forward to updates on how things are going, and in the mean time, I’m going to check out some of your links.

    1. I’ll call it “Conventionally Employed to Unconventionally Unemployed” and give you a credit on the title. I like that plan! I do have a few book ideas I’m mulling around, but need to figure out how to actually write them.

  16. When one door closes many more open or so they say. I hope that’s true for you! Love your optimism and hope to meet you at FinCon!

  17. RBD, are you considering converting some of your traditionally ira to Roth, now that your earned income has reduced?

    1. No. Since I’ve earned income through October, it won’t be low enough. Though during tax season I do expect a larger refund due to this.

  18. dividendsdiversify says:

    Good luck. I went through the same thing a few years back with an employer I had worked at for 10 years. I look back at that day as one of the best in my career and I’m sure you will as well. Tom

  19. A very important time. I was laid off in 2013 and used the time to discover the FIRE community and reorient my life. You can and should think more deeply and strategically about your big picture now that there are no day-to-day concerns to take up your mental bandwidth. Identify opportunities!