Apologies to Elvis Presley for using TCB in the title. So what have I done so far since I became unemployed last October 29th? First things first: I applied for unemployment benefits online which was a pretty easy process as long as you know what your income was every quarter for the past year. That's because the Employment Development Department (EDD) bases your weekly benefits on the quarterly incomes. About a week later, I received EDD's approval in the mail including information on how much a week I can expect to receive. I was also required to sign up for CalJOBS (caljobs.ca.gov), upload my resume, and complete some information about my work history, supposedly so that employers can look for me.
Next, I waited for Keenan Benefits company to send me my COBRA information which shows how much I have to pay to continue my medical, dental, and vision insurance. While working, I (and the other employees) only paid approximately one third of the total amount. With COBRA, I would have to pay for the whole thing plus a processing fee. Here is the breakdown per month: medical= $501.60, dental= 43.82, and vision= 8.02. That was a shocker and way beyond what I thought it would be. So I had to shop for medical insurance in the open insurance market and was able to sign up with Anthem Blue Cross whose monthly price, deductibles, and co-pays were more or less affordable even though they are much higher than my previous insurance at work. I have to pay a slightly higher premium (25% more) than the base price because I have preexisting conditions of high blood pressure and high cholesterol which I am taking medications for. I am supposed to pay for a full month plus a prorated fee for the few days left before January 1, 2014. And why is that date very important? It's when Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act takes effect. Then it was time to sign up for Obamacare which I already previously blogged about here: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2013/11/my-experience-with-obamacare-sign-up-in.html. With the high cost of medical insurance, all the more reason to try your best to stay healthy.
Afterwards, I took care of my bank accounts which I also blogged about here: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2013/11/taking-care-of-bank-business.html. After sorting out how much money I had left, I decided to pay off my mortgage: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2013/11/paying-off-mortgage-good-or-bad-decision.html. I finally received the Payoff Letter of Satisfaction from the bank a few days ago and am still waiting for L.A. County Recorder's office to send me a copy of the Deed of Reconveyance which I guess acts like the title to my property. Yes folks, I paid off my mortgage which has been the biggest amount I've owed for more than a couple of decades.
Needless to say, I have also been looking for a job in between what I've done so far that's mentioned above. All of my applications have been online and the original plan was to look for job openings in nearby hospitals with psych units. I've sent applications for every one of them that I know of. The next plan was to widen the search area and also apply for jobs not related to the psych field. That included searching in the CalJOBS listings which included companies where you can send your resume via CalJOBS or external company websites you are redirected to. I also set up a few job agents using keywords of what kind of job I am looking for. With all that effort you would think that I would get at least one call for an interview. Zip, nil, zilch, nada! Wow, I didn't realize finding a job would be so difficult especially with my experience. Well, that might pose a problem actually, because I've worked in the psych field for the last 32 years, I may be pigeon holed (I hope I'm using that term correctly) as being too experienced therefore inflexible, or just plain too old for the available positions. After all, 32 years is sometimes longer and older than the age of a lot of workers in the psych field. So three weeks after I was officially laid off and six weeks after I started looking for a job, I'm still unemployed.
With all the paperwork from all of the above, things are starting to get confusing so I have to get more organized. I guess one way of sorting them all out is writing about it. I have paper files in different folders, digital files in the computer, and a dedicated browser bookmarks folder for websites I've applied to and/or planning to apply to. Some days I feel that I'm not catching up and some days are just plain boring if I didn't have any projects planned.
Part of what I've done to prepare for long term unemployment was to make a projected monthly budget. If you think I've done well during the recession by cutting my spending, well you may be right, but now I have to cut it to the bone. I actually conducted a poll among my classmates in our Facebook group, whether it would be more feasible for me to live in the Philippines (I have dual citizenship) based on a certain budget. I asked for their input on how much I need each month based on what part of the country I may move to. Their opinions mattered a lot since we are of similar ages and have to deal with similar things like housing, food, utilities, and healthcare in our middle aged years. One question I asked myself is why I would want to go back and live there when Filipinos want to come to the U.S. to live here to improve their way of life? Well, that's where the matter of monthly expenses come in. If it costs pretty much the same living here as it would in the Philippines, I might as well stay here. Regardless of where I decide to live, the budget is going to be very, very tight.
And this is where unemployment benefits are going to help. If I remain unemployed for the next six months and as long as I keep looking for a job, the money I get from the government is enough to sustain me without having to touch my nest egg. I still hope to qualify for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) so I don't have to pay for medical insurance starting January 1, 2014. And if I don't, I've factored that into my projected monthly budget. Unemployment benefits are going to save me from going bankrupt for now. So far I've received the benefits for two weeks. Boy, being unemployed sure is inconvenient! Even though I'm trying my best to TCB, it's looking more like HBH.