You can’t plan everything, but you can plan for something


A couple of weeks ago I was home sick when Mr. Tucker learned that his company was being acquired by another company. All-of-a-sudden it became a flurry of questions and what-ifs. The company was liquidating: people in the US needed to change health care, the vacation rules changed (and old hours paid out), and the general sentiment was worried about what the future would hold.

Of course, being the only Canadian employee, Mr. Tucker was concerned. Despite being relatively inexpensive and well respected, it’s also a hassle to have a separate pay system just for him, they are beholden to the laws of our province (so there is that extra legal layer), and the odd occasion it means he can’t work on certain contracts. But hey, they don’t pay for our healthcare or extended benefits (we get those through my work and told his company they could save the $500 they were spending previously).

Hilariously, his company shipped this plant (illegally!) across the border with a note that said “Let’s Grow Together!” Uh, was that intentional irony?

Having said that, we are in a good place: we can happily survive off one salary, which is no small security blanket, and Mr. Tucker has skills that would see him finding a job fairly quickly. The challenge would be all the perks we get currently, which add up to no small sum! Mr. Tucker’s workplace pays for most of his cell phone and our internet bill, 60% of our YMCA membership, and Mr. Tucker works from home on Pacific time which means he can be with the kids when they get home from school (while everyone in the west is on lunch). Not having to commute or pay for childcare is a huge boon for our family, and if Mr. Tucker had to find another job, those are two new things that we would have to manage time and budget-wise.

Of course, we knew there would be hiccoughs so to no one’s surprise Mr. Tucker’s pay did not go through when it should have. It’s also been an ungodly administrative hassle aside from the fact his new company is trying its best to get that money to him. Because the new pay contract couldn’t accommodate the short notice, his work tried to transfer him the money – the net amount he usually gets – a few days before payday. So kudos for them for trying. Of course now the money is stuck in bank limbo with no bank involved claiming to have the money: the issuing bank says it’s gone, our bank says it’s not received. On the other side of the equation, paying us just the net amount means we will still owe taxes, EI, and CPP so we are trying to get an answer as to how that will work out. In essence: it’s a major headache.

I think I can, I think I can

Now we are almost five days from payday with nary a cent to be seen.

Now in a country where half of people live paychque-to-paycheque & many of my colleagues and friends have been what we have (not-so-fondly) come to call ”being Phoenixed,” a five day hold could be absolutely devastating. So I am grateful that we aren’t in that position. Having said that, there are a few ways that we’ve stacked the deck to ensure a short-to-medium term lapse in pay won’t affect us:

We live below our means: we have made the decision to keep our budget as tight as makes us happy so that we can save an entire salary.

We have savings: we keep an emergency fund of one month’s bills in a liquid account (we also have long-term savings elsewhere, if needed).

We have adequate storage of essentials: our house isn’t a bunker but we do buy in bulk so if we needed to, we could live happily on the food we have stored.

We have a bare-bones budget plan: I have already done an “emergency” budget where I know what I can cut quickly to reduce our expenses even lower (sayonara Netflix!). It’s not a pleasant budget but it would help us weather a storm.

We have family and friends we can rely on: we have a community we could tap into if we were desperate for things such as childcare. Needless to say, we’d also return the favour. Nurturing relationships is how humans have historically been able to survive emergencies.

So while we never know what is on the horizon we can effectively hedge ourselves against the worst disasters. It’s important to always have a backup plan for times like these where, say, a paycheque that is five days late so it won’t start a cavalcade of missed payments and charges. The peace of mind alone is worth having a decent plan for your family. If you don’t have a plan, what’s stopping you?

…and just like that we nursed it back to health. If this plant was a metaphor…