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Farewell to Furloughs

June 30, 2010

Today marks the end of a year of furloughs for me and Bryan!

As state employees, we were put on mandated furloughs in August of last year. This was the California State University system’s attempt to make budget cuts in personnel without going into layoffs. As a result, we had two unpaid days off per month. Sounds great, but it also translated to a 10% monthly pay cut. That meant 10% of BOTH Bryan and my salaries were taken away. Ouch!

As a result, we cut out extras of all kinds and we were really careful about what was spent each month. This meant groceries and meals were carefully planned; unless it was an emergency, no running out to buy groceries when the budget was spent. I don’t think we bought one piece of new clothing or shoes for each of us in the entire year. We stopped several magazine subscriptions and rarely went out to dinner (when we did, it was usually with a gift or rewards card). It was a challenging year, but it did help us learn what we can live with and without.

Here are a few photo examples to better illustrate how we survived furloughs.

Here is our refrigerator three days before payday. Pathetic! At least we have enough dairy to last a while.

My trusty old Palm Treo died last summer. I felt too guilty spending any money on a new and improved cell phone, especially since nearly all of the phones require paying for a monthly data plan. So I opted to use an old (VERY old) flip phone. And it’s from Cingular; that tells you how old it is!

Here is our “beautiful” backyard, completely overtaken by weeds. To save money and comply with the county water restrictions, we cut back on sprinklers and watering the grass. And not being able to afford a gardener has left the weeds to grow a muck. Bryan doesn’t know what to make of this!

My running shoes – probably the saddest casualty of the furlough year. As you can see, the shoes actually got holes in the soles. Bryan creatively used duck tape to cover the bottoms. Needless to say, I don’t do much running right now.

We went from Karl Strauss and Sam Adams to … Simple Times by Trader Joe’s.

And of course these photos don’t show the socks with holes, faded black pants, dress shoes that are wasting away, many unfinished home improvement projects, and saying farewell to the cleaning lady.

So as we get ready to receive our full paychecks next month, most of our colleagues will be celebrating with vacation trips, iPads, cars, and fancy dinners out. Bryan and I are celebrating too … with new running shoes and socks without holes!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Wendi Loraine permalink
    June 30, 2010 9:36 am

    Pretty impressive, Leah. I’m sure now that you’re going back to normal, you’ll have all these great habits and your new paychecks will feel even bigger!

  2. June 30, 2010 10:35 am

    Your refrigerator is clean!!

  3. July 5, 2010 8:21 pm

    Holy, Moly, Guacamoly! Proud of you and Bryan for making ends meet. Reminds me of the beginning of dad’s and my marriage almost 40 years ago. Good ‘ole Good Will and Salvation Army – our first furniture collection ;-D At times, all marriages go thru the financial “test.” Makes us strong and ever-lasting. Way to go, Leah and Bryan!

  4. April 5, 2011 4:46 pm

    Sorry to comment on an old post — but that cell phone is hilarious, but amazingly, just like the one my husband was using until about a year ago, too! He kept getting the kids and my old ones….first he had one just like that one (my old one), then he had a PINK slide phone of our daughter’s, then a black shine of our son’s, and he just finally got his own Android! HE LOVES IT! Now, I feel super guilty about getting a new phone even though mine’s had it. Like you, we had some financial issues–my husband was out of work for almost four months last year into this one. Still deciding on an IPhone….I think I can justify it as a business expense as a writer, you think? Sorry this got long, but I don’t have your email address (aren’t you glad?) 🙂

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