Money Talks, So Should You

Post-Grad Reality: In case of emergency

Andi S.
by Andi S. , Dimespring 30 (@SnowballinHi)

I work in a very high-demand sector of technology with a very high-demand degree. I never thought I would have to worry about losing my job. I especially never thought I would have to worry about not being able to perform my job.

It turns out those are two very realistic things with which I am now being confronted. Emergency savings is no longer a term for the day my car blows up, and long-term savings is no longer about owning a home someday. Now it's all about surviving.

All of my savings in the world is enough to keep me afloat for about six to seven months. If I cashed out my retirement plans I could maybe squeak out another two or three months.

READ: Post-Grad Reality: Know when you've got a sunk cost

But I am not someone to sit idly on unemployment. There are ways to make money; I just have to get out there.

The truth of the matter is that I have a debilitating medical condition and it's drastically impacting my life and my ability to perform my job. I have been doing everything possible to keep my head above water at work, but for the last year I have been steadily sinking. I never disclosed these problems to my employer, so at my last monthly meeting they opened the door for me to walk away or be terminated.

After disclosing my disease and apologizing for not being open about it they graciously offered to work with me. I'm now in the process of filing for partial disability and very likely long-term disability through my employer. There is no current "cure" for my condition, but the best case scenario is to stabilize the situation.

By transitioning to part-time hours and partial disability I will be losing approximately 40 percent of my income. Since my minimum payment on my student loans takes up 30 percent of my current income, I am not going to be left with much to live off of.

READ: Post-Grad Reality: Paying back a $240,000 education 

I already live a meager, no-frills lifestyle, but I know there will still have to be some drastic cuts, like reducing my monthly medical spending by at least half. There will be no more savings, no more snowball debt payments and no more funding my retirement, unless I come up with some additional side income.       

For now I am thankful that my employer is willing to do whatever it takes to work with me. I'm thankful that I am only supporting myself and not a family. And I am especially thankful for having a supportive significant other. 

If for some reason I do end up losing my job altogether, my plan is to apply to every technology and administrative staffing agency, do portrait photography, walk dogs, nanny, clean houses, teach English abroad, whatever it takes to keep supporting myself. Health coverage won’t exist, but I still hope to conquer my debt.

Read more about having an emergency fund:

>>How much money should I have in an emergency fund?
>>Where should I put my emergency fund?
>>Advice for building your emergency cushion

Andi S. is an electrical engineer, patent professional and blogger extraordinaire. She can be found blogging at Snowball in Hawaii, where she writes about finding balance between life, work and paying off $118k of student loans. Andi is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.