So it’s no secret that the oil industry is going through a typical cyclical downturn. Blame it on what you want, but that’s just the nature of the industry.
It’s also no secret that companies have been laying people off left and right. We’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with this yet, however, our time has come. Mrs. SSC’s company has been making waves about “re-org’s”, consolidation of departments and the like since February, and it had been rumored there would be layoffs, but it hasn’t been official until the last few weeks. They recently found out that there will be 12-15% staff reductions all across the board, with larger cuts most likely in Mrs. SSC’s group. No one is safe. Being true to their nature as a huge bloated bureaucracy, they plan on releasing little info and dragging the process out into October. Yippee!!
Alternatively, back in March my company announced that we can “keep on, keeping on” indefinitely with oil around $50-$60 a barrel. We did some minor reorganization, stopped our hiring campaign, and put raises on hold. They still paid out bonuses though, which was nice, and my move was well timed, so I already got a nice raise just by moving, so it isn’t too bad.
This week will mark the kickoff of the layoff cycle with a release of some info, possibly blank org charts, websites to see how you will be affected, and the like. Yep, everyone gets to essentially re-apply for their job and compete with others that may also apply for their job. Joy! Being a large company though, some people have gotten more information quicker than others. For instance, on a recent fishing trip a friend of mine told that he knows his boss’s job and likely his job is gone, as his group is going from 21 to 11 people. He’s kind of freaking out, because he’s a sole bread winner for his family, and no-one is currently hiring. However, he has a pretty good savings account, and he and his family live fairly well below their means. While he is worried, he isn’t super worried because they carry almost no debt, just the mortgage, they have a good savings account and emergency fund, and they have an amazing support group available from their church should things get really, really, bad. Another friend of ours who works with Mrs. SSC, recently had his wife get laid off from a different oil and gas company. Since he is now the sole bread winner and also works with Mrs. SSC he is more than a little worried about what could be coming. Again, they live pretty well below their means, and manage to save a decent amount. His job still covers their bills, and they can still save some along with that. So, while they are worried, they are not as worried as some other friends of ours, but no-one wants to be out of work, and have to start tapping into emergency funds and savings while scrounging for a job.
In my new company, I’ve only come across 2 people who mention that they save money outside of their work retirement plans. Two people… One of them is a new hire, and he follows the model of “pay yourself first” and then live off what’s left over. For instance one week, we were going out to lunch (I know, I know) and I invited him and he said he was going to be pretty broke the next 2 weeks because of a miscalculation with transferring funds to a Vanguard account. Apparently, he’d set it up to make a “monthly” transfer and it hit his account twice. Instead of dipping into his savings or other funds, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nope, can’t afford it for the next 2 weeks.” Commendable, because I would’ve just used “other money” and then “rewarded” myself on saving twice as much as I’d planned. Sidenote – I still have bad financial ideas sometimes. The other person has “outside of work” retirement accounts, and a fund for a retirement home rather, a house to live in in retirement already and they’re only in their early 30’s. The rest of the people from our work group looked at us like we had tentacles growing out of our heads when they heard us talking about Vanguard funds, retirement savings, expense ratios, and the like. One person said, “Why are you talking about retirement, that’s like forever away!”
That leads to conversations of other people we know that are not in the same boat. Specifically, a couple that makes two oil industry salaries and are freaking out about layoffs, because they still live paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings, much less emergency fund savings. Yes, you did read that correctly. This couple, in their 30’s with children, still gets occasional help out from their parents with bills and vacations. They like extravagant vacations, and they take them as often as possible. In between vacations, their spending habits aren’t reigned in well either, because that’s just the lifestyle they are used to. They know they should be saving more, or any really, but between little things here and there, and kid functions, and birthday parties, and groceries, they just don’t manage their funds well. They are really worried, because with a layoff from just one of them, their house of cards could easily crash down. They’re taking the ostrich head in the sand, fingers crossed approach and hoping for the best.
This attitude and lifestyle of spend, spend, spend rings true with more colleagues of ours than you might think, hell it’s probably not much different in your industry either. For the occasional person that may be thinking about retirement early, or retirement at all, everyone else is thinking about more ways to spend their paychecks. It’s just mind boggling to me that people don’t save more. I have to say though, if I was still single and hadn’t met Mrs. SSC, I’d think I was doing alright maxing out my 401k, and having my debts paid down. If I was diligent enough to actually have them paid down, which is doubtful. Even then, I would probably still be only a few paychecks away from disaster. It was living with Mrs. SSC that got me to realize how to break that spend, spend, spend cycle and start focusing on investing, saving money, and paying off debt.
As the weeks move on, things will be pretty stressful around here. Maybe we’ll luck out and Mrs. SSC will get to retain a spot on the payroll. Maybe she’ll get laid off, and get to figure out what to do next? I know we’ve already figured out exactly how it will affect our FFLC date, and our savings though. Since this post has already gotten so long, I’ll go into that in detail next week with part two of this crazy adventure! Yeah, layoffs!!
Source: Macrotrends, Inc.