Expenses That Take a Backseat When You're Unemployed

"And what about you? We haven't seen you in a while! It's been, what, at least a year?" my dentist shrieked last Thursday after I brought in my 10-year-old for a routine cleaning.

I found this only slightly less irritating than dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth because first, no one wants to be dental-shamed, second, I was last there in late June of 2017 (not the mid-1980s as she seemed to be implying), and, third, piggybacking on my last point, I haven't been in because I lost my dental coverage when I lost my job last June.

Clearly, it's not like I walked out of her office that sunny summer day, threw my toothbrush in the gutter, laughed maniacally, and turned my back on oral care, vowing never to brush or floss again. So, needless to say, I found her behavior off-putting.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Liz, you're over-reacting. Surely this woman isn't a mindreader, how could she possibly know you were out of work (again!) and struggl…

Pros & Cons of the Freelance Lifestyle

Rather than return to the grind of a full-time gig, I've been doing a lot of freelance work instead. (What with being laid off in 2014 and 2017, that's one roller coaster I wasn't up for boarding again so soon.)

While initially I was delighted by the work-from-home, make-your-own-hours freedom of this career choice, as I'm approaching a year of it, it's definitely a mixed bag – one that's filled with its share of benefits and shortcomings.

Topping my list of lesser-known perks is the opportunity to sing along to the most depressing Aimee Mann tunes without colleagues suggesting I get myself some Abilify®.

Downsides you may not imagine include me stalking the mail carrier and muttering my daily mantra, "Where's my check?"

(Yes, many publications roll old school and shun PayPal and direct deposit much to the dismay of my beleaguered postal worker.)

Some facets of the freelance lifestyle actually fall into both categories. Exhibit A: I can spend mos…

The Art of Creating a Professional Bio

Since losing my job in June, I've been doing a lot of freelancing. Fortunately, while I'd been working, I'd never abandoned my side hustle. So rather than start from scratch, I've taken on additional assignments from my usual clients and pursued new opportunities in an attempt to recreate a full work day and cobble together a semi-decent paycheck.

So far, it's been going well, but managing multiple deadlines can be challenging, and staying on top of invoicing has definitely proven time-consuming. To keep it all straight, I've created a color-coded Google calendar that is so (unintentionally) psychedelic, it will induce retirement-themed hallucinations if you stare at it long enough.

All that aside, one of the biggest issues I've faced writing for many different publications is a bit more personal. I'll be busy typing away when in it comes: the dreaded request for a bio.

Regardless of your background and your area of expertise, crafting an interesting an…

'Let Them Tell You You're Not Qualified!'

Before my father-in-law moved to Florida he'd come over for dinner and frequently he'd tell the same stories he'd shared during his previous visits. My husband would attempt to gently remind him that we were all familiar with whichever anecdote he was launching into by saying, "Right, Dad, we've heard this one." (A futile effort to stop our teen's manic eye-rolling)

But my father-in-law, in his 80s and undaunted, would simply say, "Well, then, you're going to hear it again!" and continue.

One of his favorites was a tale about the time when he, a young teacher, was hoping to move up in academia. He'd found a posting for a job he wanted but because he believed he didn't meet all the requisite qualifications, he felt he shouldn't bother pursuing it.

Lamenting his perceived shortcomings to a colleague, the fellow, being older and wiser, told him, "Apply for it, Ed, and let them tell you you're not qualified!"

(Without …

That Time I Was Disqualified for a Hot Dog Survey

Because being unemployed will make you do strange things (like eat an entire layer cake while watching a Vanderpump Rules marathon), I recently answered an email survey that offered cold hard cash (OK, a check most likely) in exchange for my thoughts on certain food items. Of course, before I got to the taste-testing phase, I had to check off how frequently I purchased the products in question.

Wanting to respond honestly as any good consumer should, I admitted that I don't buy instant coffee nor instant rice, even though I knew I might be blowing my chance to make a cool $50 for eating (which I love, see above) foods I didn't have to pay for myself.

Unfortunately, my candor limited me to just frozen desserts and hot dogs. I typically don't purchase the latter but my son recently tossed a package into our cart at Trader Joe's after no fewer than five "Please, Mom!!!"s. And because they were being bagged for me by a friendly hipster in a Hawaiian shirt, who sa…

‘Seeing’ Other People: Enough With the Skype Already

Sensing that my job was in jeopardy last spring, I began applying for new positions hoping to land something before my impending lay off occurred. When a friend sent a link to an opening that seemed perfect, I submitted my resume and received an email from the business owner soon after. Along with the usual pleasantries expressing his interest in chatting further, this entrepreneur wrote something that offended my sensibilities, “What’s your Skype handle?” he wanted to know.

Ugh. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the online video chat service, but I’d really hoped the rest of the process could be handled over the phone or, if it went that far, in an old-fashioned, face-to-face sit down. Yet I’ve learned that more frequently employers are using this method for the initial screening, not just a late-in-the-game final step in the hiring process.

Sure, I understand that this medium is far more convenient than actually going through the motions of locating an office building, introducing …

Fresh Starts & Auto Parts

Let me just get right down to it: I was laid off yesterday.

While I was surprised, I can't say I was completely shocked as, in this position and the one I held before it, I'd watched my colleagues randomly terminated in the name of streamlining and "increased productivity." (Huh?)

The funny thing is this: Recently a few friends had asked me how work was going and I responded by saying things seemed to be "OK," "Pretty status quo," and the ironic "Haven't had any lay-offs lately!" Guess I spoke too soon.

Just weeks shy of my three-year anniversary at the job that pulled me out of the depths of despair when my husband and I were simultaneously out of work, four colleagues and I were dismissed amid yet another "restructuring."

I was sitting at my dining room table just before noon, working and considering what I might have for lunch when I received the news that my services were no longer required -- which, let me tell you, …