Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five reasons to love Furloughs

1. You Were Not Laid Off.
If you think losing 5 to 15% of your income hurts, imagine losing 100% of your income right now! Furloughs aside, The California EDD's March 2009 labor market report states that 126,762 Californians have been laid off since January of 2009. Consider yourself lucky-- Furloughs means that your employer doesn’t expect the financial storm to be long term, and the work that you do means enough to keep you around during the storm.

2. You can improve your work /life balance.
Once you get over the shock of the involuntary pay cut, getting a few extra days off without using vacation days is not a bad tradeoff. Unless you absolutely need to spend your furlough days working somewhere else to make up the loss in pay, think of all the fun or meaningful things you can do with your furlough days. Spend some time in your child’s classroom. Take a class at your local university, library, park or gym. Start that garden at home you’ve been putting off. You aren’t going to get the money back, and your furlough isn’t going to last forever. Many of us may look back at the furlough years as a time of meaningful discovery and relaxation.

3. You have time for a career makeover.
Furlough days are the perfect time to really think about where your career is going. Many of us get up and go to work everyday doing things we never wanted to do. Some of us are working everyday for people and companies we are not passionate about. Well maybe it’s time to do something about it. It’s a tough job market out there, but don’t be discouraged from using your furlough days to “shop around” for a new career. But be careful--there’s no sense in trading your current heartache for an even worse situation.

4. Financial makeovers.
Losing 10% of my pay really made me have to think about our family’s finances. Just as California did, I implemented some painful budget cuts into order to absorb my loss of income. It’s actually been a good thing. I contacted several of my creditors and told them about the furlough, and even the most subprime of them sympathized with my situation and agreed to reduce the interest rates on several of my accounts. I finally shopped around for homeowners insurance, and found better, cheaper coverage with another company. The process didn’t come without pain—I had to cancel my NFL League Pass and newspaper subscriptions. But hey, no pain no gain right? Just like the furlough, I don’t expect these cuts to be forever.

5. Like or not, your workload just got lighter.
This is especially true for senior executives, high level managers and those workaholics out there. For some of you, this is the first time you have ever been forced to work less. Many of you found ways to work on weekends, holidays and even vacation days. But you cannot work on your furlough days. If you do, you risk a permanent budget reduction to your agency or your employer getting hit with a nasty wage and hour case.

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