Slowly Sipping Coffee

Layoffs are looming: Part 2!

With the upcoming layoff cycle, we’ve been looking at how we’d be affected if it happens to us. Chances are possible of Mrs. SSC getting cut, mostly due to the heavy, ~30%, cuts they’re making in her department as well as up to 20% business unit cuts. If you read the last post on this you might think, wait, wasn’t it only 12% cuts reported? Yes, yes it was, however, the biggest hit is geoscientists, so while overall it averages out to 12% company wide, the geoscientist group is getting hacked at 20-30% across the board. Yeeowch!

This affects us way more than I first thought. I figured, eh… we should be okay, just a little tight on savings, but then it sparked conversations on life, what we really want, if this career path is even fulfilling enough to go back, and if not, then what? I mean, this could drag out into at least 3 posts, haha! Don’t worry, I won’t belabor you with that, unless it’s still on my mind in a week and I haven’t found something shinier to focus on. I’m sure I could think of another music analogy post… Seriously though, beyond the financial part of all this is the innate thing we’re all searching for, and that is “what do I want to do, that I can get satisfaction from and get paid for?” Currently, that’s not Mrs. SSC’s job.

The other bigger conversation that has been brought up is, what to do next? I mean, Mrs. SSC hasn’t been happy at her company for almost 5 years now. Anyone else see how this timing ties into when Mrs SSC began plotting for FI? Haha! Coincidence? Heck, no!

For most of life we get driven to go certain ways in life or down prescribed career paths by our parents. For Mrs. SSC it’s even more extreme since she is very self-driven. She’s been driven to work hard, get a degree, work harder, save well, and all the other things will sort themselves out with life. At that point you’re already successful, so good job! For me, well I was driven to umm… well… I mean come o,n I was aspiring to be a long haul trucker for the glamour of it. Not exactly the same upbringing, and so let’s just say I took the long loopy path to where I am, and in the midst of all of that, I got to find myself. Mrs. SSC hasn’t had that experience yet and so she’s kind of wanting some time for that self-discovery that she missed when she was younger.

Personally, I think she’d be just as happy working in a bakery decorating cakes, and doing something she can see real results on. I loved working construction and getting to see an empty field become a hospital, or an empty plot of land turn into a house, it’s amazing when you see what you work on turn into something, anything, and not just be a nebulous “ XX barrels of oil/day produced”.

The beleagured point of this is that Mrs. SSC isn’t even sure she wants to go back to this field if she does get laid off. One of my colleagues recently brought up that 50% of people that get laid off in the Oil & Gas industry don’t come back. I’m sure that is an overblown number, but I know over a handful of associates that are okay with walking away for good if they get laid off. Straight up not coming back and finding something else to do with their degree. They have spent YEARS in school working on those degrees to work in this field. Now, if laid off, they’re content looking into gov’t jobs, academia, and even jobs with nothing related to their degree at all.

Heading forward, no looking back. Except this is clearly looking back…

Ever since one of our friends got laid off this spring,  we’ve been working to see how this would affect us if it hit either of our companies. Well, it’s going to hit us in a few different ways but like most people, it starts in the wallet. We maintain a pretty good savings rate of about 50%. So, if we lose one salary, our savings rate would effectively be 0%. We are fortunate to be way ahead of many colleagues, since we generally live off of one salary already. Maybe even a little under that, but for the most part, all of our “essentials” can be taken care of alright with one salary. It’s not nearly as stormy an outlook as I was thinking at first. Plus, Mrs. SSC might get an added bonus of a forced “get to know yourself and what you want to do.”


Stormy, but hey, the sun's still shining!

Stormy, but hey, the sun’s still shining!

If a layoff occurs, we would have to find a way to move that savings rate from 0% to hopefully 10%, just to keep FI happening before we turn 50. We’d leave our oldest child in daycare full-time because he thrives well there and does great with the structure, friends, and the like. He will be in his last year before kindergarten, so it’s not a long-term bill, maybe 6 more months tops. Our youngest could do well with a 2-3 days per week/part time day care situation as she seems to be more independent and is a super fast learner. Plus, Mrs. SSC is looking forward to having time to spend with her and help her learn more too.


The biggest obvious budget hits are just the other luxury allowances we have now that would go by the wayside. These are the same things that will get cut with the FFLC anyway, so nothing to drastic yet. I’ve saved us about $1200 this year just doing the yard all season (it still has about 3 months before it ends) so that’s good, and we’d cut the maids saving us $260/month, and then Mrs. SSC parking and work gym would get rolled into an outside gym fee, which would likely even out. That’s her hobby, outlet, and she likes it and uses it, so we’re both good with that. Plus, we would be saving quite a bit on tolls and gasoline, since each commuting day is the equivalent of ~2.5 gallons of gas or ~$9, and $2.50 in tolls. At 220 working days a year, that is just over $2530/yr. Maybe we could even get the car insurance rate dropped on her vehicle too! Groceries budget could easily go down by $50-$75/month since Mrs. SSC would have time to shop for better deals, and we wouldn’t have to buy ‘convenience’ foods anymore. We could likely trim another $25-50 of general spending a month for the same reasons.


That beach might not be the most comfortable, but it's still beautiful!

That beach might not be the most comfortable, but it’s still beautiful!

When we looked at our FFLC date, it is a different story though. First off, I’ve gotta give a shout out to my man, compounding interest! Yeah, that’s my boy!! We’ve been good at feeding our FFLC accounts so they’ll still be working in our favor, hopefully. With our savings effectively reduced to 0%, we know we’ll just have to play a couple rounds of “what expense goes next?!”. We’re assuming we can still save at least ~$1k/month/yr and then increase it by $1k/month the next year due to my raises and maybe Mrs. SSC getting a part-time gig. I think we may be able to save more, especially if we make it a challenge. Take that and assume  a 6% investment growth, and we’re still looking at mid 2020 for our FIRE date! We’re not looking at a date as early as ThinkSaveRetire, but we’re still doing better than most in this downturn since we still have an early retirement date before we’re both 45!

That’s a lot better than I was thinking initially. It helps to know your target number, and be aware of your budget, because of the case in point. My mind totally blew out of proportion how negatively we’d be affected, and then you do the math (I try to not ever do the math) and it’s like, “whoa! We got this, and we can adapt. Alright then… We can do this!” And then hope we don’t have to do this. Until we find out what we’ll be doing exactly, we’re just going to keep on, keeping on.

34 thoughts on “Layoffs are looming: Part 2!

  1. Mr. Modern Millennial

    Although the circumstances were completely different, my partner and I were recently faced with a big transition when he was offered a change to move from his current university to a new university as his advisor accepted a new position as Chair (at the new university).

    Ignoring the fact that the move would be to a totally new state (to TX, we currently live in FL), the chance to make a decision made all those existential questions about life, our purpose, happiness crop up. It was actually somewhat refreshing for us to talk about these things, but ultimately we had to make a tough decision. We decided that he would go to TX with his advisor for the next couple of years, until he completes his degree.

    Granted, with that decision came a lot of additional decisions to make. At the time (a few months ago), it seemed like the decisions were snowballing (where to live, how much should we pay, how to fund the move and furnish the new apt, should he have a car out in TX…). I mean, it seemed like the questions would never stop. But they have. And in a few days we will be packing up the apartment in a UHaul and moving him out to TX. I’ll be helping with the move, but because of work I’ll be staying in FL.

    Anyways, sorry to blabber on and on. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to get that out.

    I’m glad to hear that things look better than you initially expected, but I still hope everything works out favorably all around. Things seem to find a way to work themselves out.

    Take care,

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Moving in this heat wave does not sound fun! It’s amazing how changes like that bring out a lot of life questions. I’m sure it will work out either way, and at this point, we’re both kind of excited regardless of the outcome. One path – we retire a little earlier, but the laid off side sounds more intriguing and exciting and beneficial. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, because I would have never thought that years ago.

      Good luck in your transition with the long distance relationship, Mrs. SSC and I were in Denver and Chicago respectively for the last year of our degrees. It got spendy with air travel and being apart like that has its own issues.

  2. Fervent Finance

    Mr. SSC, you keep talking about these looming layoffs yet yourself and Mrs. SSC are still gainfully employed :) I only joke. I would be doing the exact same thing as you, planning out every scenario. But it’s great that you guys don’t have to do what a lot of people are doing – WORRY! You’ve put yourselves in a great position. Has Mrs. SSC had any serious thoughts about or ideas for a second career such as baking as you mentioned?

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Touche! Yes, we’re still both employed but we’re down to 7 weeks before we find out if that stays this way. Mrs. SSC runs multiple scenarios weekly, mainly when she’s bored or needs cheering up at work. So we have all kinds of scenarios already planned out.

      It is nice that we’re in such a good position, but that can all change any given day. As far as a second career, baking and photography seem to be the only things that have been brought up so far. They are hobbies she likes and can see getting some side income off of. Teaching is another strong candidate, as that was her first career choice before coming into the O&G industry. If it wasn’t for me she would have taken a professorship she was offered at a university, but alas, love won out. :)

  3. Tawcan

    Be grateful that both of you are still employed and do have some backup plans in place in case. If layoff does happen, maybe it’s a good way to get to the next stage of early retirement.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, it’s nice not worrying too much, and maybe it will kick start Mrs. SSC into something more meaningful.

  4. Brian @DebtDiscipline

    Being let go from my job In may after 20 years, I know the feeling of wanting to take a moment and consider your future path. I’m not sure I want to go back to doing some of the same things I was doing before. Good to know you still have a job and are planning in case.

    1. Mr. SSC

      I like my job, and if I got let go, I’d stay in the industry. Since Mrs. SSC doesn’t get the same fulfillment, then we see it as an opportunity to try anything else.

  5. Our Next Life

    We’re happy to keep reading about the looming layoffs if that’s what’s on your mind — and why wouldn’t it be?! It’s a big deal! Like with you guys, one of us was super driven and never took any time to explore (that’d be me!), and the other took the more meandering route. And man, do I often wish I could do the “find myself” thing, but we’re so close at this point — just over two years — that it seems worth sticking it out until ER. But that could be pretty awesome for Mrs. SSC to have a little time and breathing room to do that. Especially given the numbers you crunched, and the fact that you think you could still retire before 45, even without Mrs. SSC having a full-time gig. That’s really worth considering. If that were our outlook, I don’t know if I’d even look for another job right away. :-) But good luck either way — if the layoff happens, fingers crossed for a big, fat severance package!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks, it may continue or I may let it rest for a week or two until we start hearing some more info and get closer to “the date!” I hear you on being so close and just wanting to stick it out, because that is probably the only reason that Mrs. SSC hasn’t tried switching careers yet. There’s talk of a severance package – but it’s currently just hearsay, and no details on what it could entail. You’ll hear all about it though if it happens. and probably if it doesn’t too. :)

  6. Mark@BareBudgetGuy

    Intense! I love the fact that we have a front seat and are sharing the uncertainty and suspense with you. It’s comforting to know that everyone out there also has challenges and also that you have (and are continually developing) good contingency plans.

    1. Mr. SSC

      If you only knew of all the contingency plans and different scenarios I get emailed from Mrs. SSC… I get ~1-3 a week that vary somewhat from our “normal plan.”

      It’s nice that this is relatable to people even if it’s just from a “how do we handle the challenge” type of situation.

  7. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    This is a good reminder to us all that no job is perfectly “secure.” You just never know what would happen, and it’s good to have some built-in savings, frugality, and flexibility to weather a storm. And it’s neat to consider other possible career options, even if a lay off isn’t ideal. But I genuinely hope all will go well, and it sounds like you’ll be fine.

    1. Mr. SSC

      A layoff wouldn’t be ideal, but it isn’t a deal breaker in our current situation, so I am grateful to be in that position. I think regardless of what happens, it will turn out well though.

  8. Amber Tree

    This whole lay-off possibility must cast a great shade over your lifes. I hope all turns out well.

    Having followed you blog quite some time now, and reading this last episode, One benefit is already clear: It gets you thinking on what/where you can spend less to survive and live within your means. Most people do not reach this stadium a few months after the lay off hit them.

    The positive thinking I read in between the lines is also a plus. It could indeed be a great opportunity to rethink and redesign a big part of your life. The preparation of that opportunity seems to make you stronger.

    I hope all turns out fine for you.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yes and no with casting a shade on our lives. Initially yes, but now, except for delaying our FFLC date, we are looking at it from the positives stand point, since we aren’t going to be stressing over losing the house, the car, and getting food and bills paid.

      We have our contingency plans in place, and unlike most layoffs I guess that come out of the blue, since this one is a slow build, it gives a lot of people time to plan. Fortunately, we’ve been saving strong and living fairly frugally and have a good solid support in place. I’m kind of excited to see how it turns out at this point.

  9. Steve

    Hey guys! Regarding Mrs. SSC’s reluctance to rejoin her current career, I’m definitely right there with you with my own. Maybe a layoff is the perfect time to look at a change, and it’s even better that she’s probably get a severance package to help extend you guys a bit.

    I like your attitude during all this, and that’s really what matters. You WILL make it through the layoffs – maybe even better than your situation right now – because you guys are happy and healthy and are looking at the bright side of this situation.

    And I agree – being out before you hit 45 is an awesome achievement. That’ll be well, well before the large majority of people out there, driving around in their over-priced cars, huge homes and expensive gold watches. :)

    1. Mr. SSC

      But I like my gold watches… Kidding… :)

      I think it could be a good time for a change for her, and if nothing else take a good 6-9 months before looking again. If she does decide to come back to the industry, we’ve talked about looking for work at a smaller, LOT smaller company so she can have more autonomy, responsibility, and a lot faster pace, which she thrives at.

      Either way, we’ve decided it’s a good situation to try something new if that’s what she wants. You can be assured you’ll hear about whatever happens though.

  10. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Looming layoffs are pretty scary. We’re in the middle of an appeal after my husband’s disability benefits were cut off. Just losing $730 a month will be quite a blow, losing his medical coverage will be devastating to our finances. So we’re pretty stressed out around here.

    1. Mr. SSC

      That sounds really stressful, I hope you guys win the appeal. That is a pretty big loss, and on top of the losing medical coverage too, whew… I hope it turns out well for you guys!

  11. Stockbeard

    I think if I was laid off today, I’d probably be happy, and would not try to come back. I’m still far from financial independence, but I’m at a point where I need fate to make the choice for me. If not, I’ll just be grinding for a few more years until I’m confident with my numbers…

    1. Mr. SSC

      That’s pretty much how Mrs. SSC is looking at it at this point. If so, time for a change, if not, try to save even more and move the date up. It’s nice to be in that situation.

  12. TheMoneyMine

    Mr. SSC, I think you are so prepared for this that whatever happens you’ll make it turn to your advantage!
    Joke aside, one of my colleagues who was let go in January told us afterwards that she actually had been grateful for the lay-off as the severance package helped her re-focus on what she really wanted to do and in this case, change industry. She’s happier now.
    Another one that had been with the company for 25 years took the ‘early retirement package’ and found another job the following month, which turned out to be a huge promotion for him.
    I found that the people who looked at this like an opportunity actually did pretty well afterwards.
    I think you are doing all the right things in this situation and you should come out of this better than most. Fingers crossed!

    1. Mr. SSC

      I feel the same way! I didn’t initially, and I was the more stressed out one, but after seeing the numbers I realized it can be a great opportunity for Mrs. SSC.
      Both of our friends are in similar boats to what you described. They’re either happier being a stay at home parent, or got a better job after getting some time off and a severance package.
      I think flexibility and positivity are key and not focusing on the negative side. Yes, it would suck, yes, it will disrupt some things, but I think Mrs. SSC could come out the other side in a way better position in so many more ways than where she is now.
      Fingers crossed indeed! Although at this point, I’m not sure which situation I’m crossing them for to be honest. :)

  13. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip

    I think it’s awesome that you are saving 50% pre-layoff. And it looks like there’s still so much you could cut if you had too. I know it’s still stressful just not knowing. I absolutely HATE not knowing! You guys have done a great job though and it looks like you’re in a position to weather the storm. Maybe it’s not what you wanted but you’re still going to be okay.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I’ve gotten past stressing about not knowing. However it turns out isn’t going to change from me being more stressed about it. We have been saving aggressively and are in a good position though, so that helps a lot.

  14. J

    I think the total lack of E&P activity and slashed budgets will make that decision for her.

    I don’t see there being a demand for geologic expertise anytime soon (2017?)

    Source: I live in Houston but I do not work in energy.

    I’m concerned about the Houston economy because I don’t see a recovery in prices until at least 2017. I hope not too many folks are out of work too long as a result. But Houston has ridden the O&G wave many times in the past, things always work out in the end.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Well her company is still retaining 70-80% of their geoscientists, and they won’t shut down because of a down cycle. My company is still hiring as needed, and I am seeing more job postings for geologists, geophysicists and the like on Glassdoor again. They were few and far between these last 5-6 months, so that’s encouraging from that standpoint.
      In regard to slashed budgets, yep, most companies have reduced their cap ex and for instance, my field has seen it’s activity level slashed by about 80%. Consequently, I’m getting moved to a more active field, so instead of hiring for that position, they just re-org in-house. I like that, and I like getting back to a more active field that does have capital to spend and more than zero rigs in it. :)
      It is a pretty big downturn, and there have been LOADS of jobs lost so far from both the service industry side and O&G companies. That’s just the nature of the industry, really. This is just the first major downturn we’ve seen that is actually manifesting in layoffs. The economy here may slow a little, but it should be able to weather the downturn too.

  15. Jason

    I love this FFLC acronym. Do you know when Mrs. SSC will get the news? If not, could you even make the move anyway or find something a little closer (e.g. a university or college nearby could use lab instructors or something).

  16. Mr. SSC

    Thanks about the FFLC, for us it fits better. The mrs. Finds out around the first week of Oct. Ironically, I think she’s going to be disappointed at either outcome now. Thinking of the freedom of not working somewhere that isn’t satisfying is amazing (why I left and I have been way happier since) versus getting back to somewhere with 4 seasons even sooner but still working at unsatisfying job… Man, it’s a mind melt no matter how you look at it. She has been looking around though just in case.

  17. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    You guys have done a good job of hammering all of the details out. I think you should definitely keep viewing this as an opportunity to let Mrs. SSC find out what her heart’s passion is. Time’s a wastin’, my friend! :-)

    1. Mr. SSC

      I think even if she does keep her job, Mrs. SSC will be done in another year or so. Running multiple scenarios, we realized a better family life is better than an earlier FFLC so hers may start sooner regardless.

  18. OnlyKetchup

    You’d also likely see a decrease in income taxes since your income would be significantly reduced. Bigger impact next year, than this one.

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