Rebecca is an attorney.  She has thousands of dollars in student loan debt and has a bankruptcy under her belt.  She enjoys a nice living on a six figure salary.  When she moves into her new two flat apartment, she complains about it and says she wishes she could tear it down and rebuild it.  She spends a few thousand dollars of her own money making it homey by redoing the floors, panting, and changing doors; she also buys a new bedroom set.  She buys a nice used car and takes out a loan for it.

She is surprised when she is given a pink slip, but not worried.  She knows she is a fabulous lawyer and will land a job soon.  She ignores the fact that her personal communication skills and attitude are part of the reason she was one of the first lawyers to be laid off at her firm. 

She takes unemployment and uses her small savings to maintain her current lifestyle.  Meanwhile she applies to many jobs, but there are no offers.  She goes back to school to earn an M.A. with the hopes of becoming a college teacher.  She takes out student loans to pay for both her education and her lifestyle.

Six months after losing her job, Rebecca begins to worry.  Her anxiety comes through in her job interviews, as does her domineering personality.  Despite this, she receives a few job offers, but she rejects them all because they are below her salary requirements.

After two semesters in school, she receives her M.A.  The new student loans come due, and she has no money to pay them.  As her credit card balances build, she once again considers bankruptcy, but student loans are not dismissable in bankruptcy.  She continues to apply for jobs and has two more offers, both of which she rejects.  Now that she also has a M.A., she is insulted by the low offers. 

Meanwhile, she is over two months behind in rent and is having trouble paying for groceries.  Her landlord has threatened her with eviction.


Stewart makes a good living with the airline industry.  However, his company is continually downsizing.  He has made it through several rounds of cuts.

He takes classes through his employer to keep up his skills and make himself more valuable to the company.  Fearing a layoff, he learns how to use coupons and cuts his grocery bill in half.  When he finds a good sale on a product he uses, he stocks up.  He cuts his cable and uses rabbit ears.  With his newfound savings, he has a few hundred dollars pulled from his paycheck each month and automatically deposited in a savings account.  Over the course of 18 months, he amasses six months’ worth of living expenses in his account.

Facing another round of cuts, Stewart applies to 75 different jobs within his company.  He is willing to take a variety of jobs and is willing to relocate.  He is also willing to take a substantial salary cut to remain employed.

In the end, he is one of only three out of 15 who survive the latest cuts.  His supervisor credits his optimistic attitude and his willingness to work, in addition to his motivation to pursue on the job training as one of the reasons he survived.

Now Stewart is tightening his budget further so he can give Rebecca $50 a month for groceries.  She is grateful for his help and uses the money to shop for organic groceries at Whole Foods.

She is still looking for a job within her salary requirements.

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