How Getting Fired During The Pandemic Affected My Finances

I’m not quite sure what the future will bring.
PHOTO: Getty Images/istockphoto

Less than a year ago, I started a job at a new company—a fresh start I badly needed after the company I worked for decided to shift its focus. I wasn’t happy with the changes they made so I looked for other opportunities. My former boss is one of my mentors, so it wasn’t an easy decision for me.

I eventually found work that challenged my abilities—and tested my patience, lol—but it was a job that paid well and in a way, trained me to lead. I answered texts and calls past clock-out and responded to requests sent on weekends. I tried hard to maintain work-life balance, but in my industry, a part of me understood this was necessary. We were a really small team, but seeing our work come to life and appreciated by many made me feel fulfilled.

Things took a turn when COVID-19 hit.

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In March, just before the enhanced community quarantine, my boss asked us if we wanted to either go to work (but in shifts) or work from home—both options involved salary deductions. Obviously, everyone opted to work from home because it’s safer. For the next two months, we just went with the flow and did as much work as we could. By the end of May, however, my boss informed us that we’d only be working three days a week (max). In my team, specifically, some of us just went to work once a week. Shortly after, we were told we’d only have work until the end of the month.

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The decision was made without any warning, so I began to panic. I’ve been independent from my parents for a long time, so I am responsible for all my expenses, most of which are bills. To give you an idea, here’s a breakdown of my finances per month before the pandemic:

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  • Savings: P20,000 to P30,000
  • Rent & bills: P9,000
  • Money for my parents: P4,000
  • Allowance: P5,000
  • Insurance & miscellaneous expenses: P6,000

I’d automatically transfer money to my savings account—an account with no ATM card, just to make it harder for me to touch it.

I started looking for work, but as you probably expected, not many companies are looking to hire right now. I’ve been actively applying for jobs and even came close to landing one, but it’s been almost two months with no steady income, and it’s stressful. I didn’t transfer anything to my savings account the last time I got paid and have been using that money to get by. Soon, I’ll have to go to the bank and touch my savings, which makes me sad because I’ve spent years building that account. Without a job, my savings can probably last me a whole year...but Im not sure what will happen if that runs out. 

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Moving back home isn’t an option for me because there are even fewer opportunities for me there, and I don’t want to burden my parents. For extra income, I’ve been buying and reselling baked goods; I get to help small businesses and earn around P700 a week. It’s not exactly sustainable but it’s something—and it’s been such a humbling experience.

I’m not quite sure what the future will bring. It’s hard not to have control over anything, and I’m sure other people have it much worse than I do. So for now, all I can do is to spend wisely, look for other means of income, and keep applying for jobs.

Stay safe out there.

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