A MinD in MoTown

Who needs money anyway?

When my company implemented furloughs – required unpaid days off work – it came as no surprise. Most media outlets were already jumping on that bandwagon, forcing full-time workers into 32-hour weeks to save a few million dollars. But I never realized how grateful I’d be for the free time and the lost wages.

Unlike many others who work in this environment, I have a supplementary income from the restaurant I serve at on weekends. So when the furloughs were announced – one per month through September – I figured an extra shift or two each month would even out the monetary loss. And with just as much cash in hand, I took advantage of the work-free days by relaxing at home, conducting massive cleanups of my entire house or heading out of town to enjoy a long weekend*.

September arrived and I scheduled the last of my furloughs – used, along with paid vacation time, for a trip to the Outer Banks of NC. And then, shortly after returning, the news came: More furloughs would be necessary.

At first I was disappointed. Talk of wage raises was swirling prior to this announcement, but that quickly faded as six additional work-free eight-hour days were planned before 2010. 

Less than a day later though, my anger and agitation turned to relief as I remembered how much these furloughs allowed me to do so far this year that was previously beyond my reach when I worked six or seven days each week.

Not only did I visit Scranton on a non-holiday weekend in August, but I traveled to the Outer Banks this month, Virginia Beach in July, Penn State in April, Carowinds in June and so much more. (And thanks to the newly implemented furloughs, I’m heading back to Penn State in two weeks for a four-day weekend.)

These furloughs have strangely provided me with an amazing year of adventures and fun. So perhaps I won’t get a raise – bummer! – and maybe I’ll have to grit my teeth through a few more waitressing shifts, but with so little paid time off, these furloughs have helped me attain a happiness that was slightly missing in 2008 because all I seemed to do was work.

I guess this somewhat defines “turning lemons into lemonade.” I have seriously made the absolute best I could out of a very crappy situation, and what more could I have asked for? My wallet might struggle here and there, but I’m genuinely happy and that’s worth eating Ramen noodles for an entire week on occasion, for sure.

So, have you been in a similar situation where you’ve been able to “turn lemons into lemonade”? I’d love to hear about it. And if you’re in the media business, how have furloughs impacted your lives? I’m curious to find out.

* I suppose it should be noted that I can afford and often schedule one weekend off at the restaurant each month as well.

10 Comments so far
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Though we’re not required to take unpaid time off, no one was allowed raises this year. Though what’s nice is that after 2 corporate moves, I have 7 weeks of vacation this year. It’s been great taking long vacations and long weekends

Seven weeks. Wow. That’s a good chunk of time. If I had more paid vacation time – I was at two weeks this year and will move to three weeks as of Jan. 1 – perhaps I wouldn’t be so excited about the furloughs.

Comment by phampants

Wow, I’m glad you’ve taken a very positive outlook on this situation. After all, what more can we really do when life hands you lemons and quitting isn’t an option? 🙂

Exactly. Quitting is, most certainly, not even a consideration.

Comment by OmegaRadium

Well good for furloughs!! Exactly….who needs those green slips of paper anyways 🙂

Time off is ALWAYS a good thing (ok, well not too much time) and very necessary for a sane mind.

So true. I felt like I was burning myself at both ends of the candle last year, waiting for the moment where I’d just completely burn out. This year, everything seems more relaxed and working six to seven days a week, at times, isn’t quite so horrible.

Comment by thatShortChick

I wish my outlook was as rosy as yours! I’ve had a total of 15 furlough days this year. Things are tough, but since I got married this year I still had extra days available beyond the honeymoon, which is nice. And when our additional 5 days got annouced, hubby and I planned out a camping trip for next weekend on into Monday and Tuesday. Should be fun! I’ve been thinking about getting a holiday job as well…

Oh wow, fifteen? That’s certainly more than I’ve had. (I’m counting now…) I think we’ve had six, maybe seven, so far? I can’t even think straight. But you clearly seem happy about the camping trip, which means you’re making the best of the furloughs. What else can you do, right?

Comment by Southern Web Girl

That would be hard for me to deal with, because my budget is too tight already, but I do love time off and I’ve come to really value it lately.

If I didn’t have a second job, I’d be screwed. Completely. Because I do count my money, allotting only so much for this and that. And I imagine many others in this company are scrambling because of the loss. Strangely, I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.

Comment by Ashley

great topic! furloughs definitely can either be fortunate or unfortunate! depends on how you look at it. good that you have supplemental income and have more time to relax 🙂

Thanks hun. I wish they weren’t a burden to others, but I’m glad to have found some joy out of the situation, for sure.

Comment by floreta

I hear you. I went on so many crazy and awesome adventures last year, thanks to my second job! I don’t miss bartending at all, but it was totally worth it to make them happen.

You have to do what you have to do in order to live happily, right?

Comment by LiLu

I’m a little jealous but I am very thankful I even have a job! Enjoy it!

Thanks. I’m definitely thankful they didn’t just fire people. I can deal with furloughs, no doubt, if it means keeping my job.

Comment by Melissa

You have such an awesome outlook that all I can say is I admire you. I hope there no more furloughs at your work though.

Honestly, I’m just thankful I have a job these days.

I do hope there are no more furloughs because I’d love a raise, and I simply do not see both happening at the same time. However, if there are more, then I can deal. No worries.

With the economy as it is, you couldn’t be more right: We just have to appreciate having jobs at all.

Comment by Marie

I understand..my job was outsourced and my pay was cut 60% so i started a busines…not bad ya know…sometimes there’s more to life that money..as long as i have food and my bills are paid…i’m happy 🙂

Such a positive outlook. I love it! And that’s exactly how I think. I don’t need the fanciest car or the best of the best. Just some clothes on my back, a place to live, food, the essentials, and life is good.

Comment by Felicia

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