Before you get all excited, this isn’t a story of financial bliss. Less than 3 months after our second child, a daughter, was born and amid all this turmoil in the economy, my wife quit her job. Why? Suffice to say that she was extremely unhappy at the position and didn’t feel that she could return to it after her maternity leave.
The decision came much easier for her than it did for me. I didn’t have to work there, so I didn’t have the same problems as she did. But, most of all, my trepidation came from the fact that my salary alone could not support us. We would need to find a new source of income, and quickly.
Decisions made, my wife sent her resignation letter to her employer. And then they sent back a bill. You see, my wife was on maternity leave which is covered under the Family Medical Leave Act. In that law, there is a section that states that if the employee does not return from the FMLA leave, the employer can reclaim any expenses such as health insurance that they incurred while the employee was on leave. It was not a small bill. If I recall (who am I kidding. I remember.) it was just over $1200.00. As you can imagine, we were both devastated. Not only were we jumping directly out of the pan and into the fire, but now they had turned up the flame. We could pay it out of savings, but it would put a very serious dent in it. And that was money that we were counting on to keep our bills paid until my wife started earning money again.
You’ll have to excuse me a bit, while I digress. I want to explain how we planned on getting my wife making money again. We have, for several years, been active sellers on eBay. Never anything on any grand scale. We’d hit a garage sale here, and an estate sale or auction there and see what kind of easter eggs we could find. Having had that already in gear, we decided that ramping it up would be the easiest (and fastest) way to get some income coming back in. So, we began the search for more product and more suppliers for the product. End digression. I think I’ll leave any other details of that operation to another post.
So, being the natural arguer that I am, I started doing a little bit of research on FMLA law. I’m no lawyer, so basically all I did was confuse myself further. My brother, on the other hand, is a lawyer. Well, he will be sometime around May of next year. But, he happens to be working at a law firm and has access to all the lawyers and their resources. So, I asked him to look into it a little. A few text messages back and forth. An email or two. And a letter later. The bill went away. Turns out, that by requiring my wife to take all of her remaining sick/vacation time as well as using her short term disability insurance (both of which were enough time to cover the entire 12 weeks), they managed to make it so that they couldn’t reclaim that money. Sucks for them. Turns out very well for us. Thank you brother. And thank you law firm that he works for, for the pro bono work on the letter.
After that was taken care of, we could really concentrate on ramping up the eBay selling. We spent several weeks working out and implementing a way to grow the business. As it turns out, it grew a little bit slower than we had anticipated. And it certainly wasn’t going to make enough money to cover our expenses. At least, not right away. It might in the future. I, being the one that constantly worries (read stresses) about our finances, was beginning to think that it was about time for my wife to start looking for a part time job, if not a full time one. Little did I know the hidden paths that God reveals to us.
I told you before that the company that my wife worked for before wasn’t the greatest place to work. Truth is, it started out as a really nice place to work. Somewhere in between, it went very downhill. My wife’s best friend got fired, my Wife got passed over for promotions that she had been promised. And overall, everyone was fed up with the place. So, another of their ex-coworkers, who is also a friend, approached them with an offer. They would start their own company, doing the exact same thing as their previous employer. They all three loved what they were doing, just not the company, so it made a lot of sense.
That was about three months ago. They have since formed a corporation, gotten all their paperwork and such in order and opened for business on the 1st of August. So far, things are going very well. They’ve had more business than they had anticipated and things seem to be growing well. We’re all hopeful that it will continue to blossom and grow. Maybe one day, I’ll get to be strictly self-employed.
Of course, some of you will remember that I told you earlier that this wasn’t a story of financial bliss. It may become one, but it isn’t yet. We are still struggling to make our financial ends meet and likely will until at least the end of the year. My wife gets paid for the time she works at the company and will likely get a little bit of a shareholder bonus at the end of the year as well. And hopefully, they’ll be able to add a few new products to their line by then as well. Until then, however, we’re learning how to flex our frugal muscles and save as much as possible so that we can pay our bills.