Pay Cut? Don't Worry
Q I just had a job change that resulted in a substantially lower salary than my previous position. My wife and I are finding it difficult to adjust our expectations. Do you have any suggestions?
A While I'm sure there are some very practical steps you should be taking to bring your budget into balance, my guess is that your biggest difficulty is accepting the change with a good attitude. Maybe the story of another young couple who found themselves in similar circumstances will help.
Mike and Debbie (not their real names) called after a series of events had wreaked havoc with their finances. Mike had left his employer after being offered a generous severance package, thinking he could easily find a comparable position elsewhere. Unfortunately, a new job didn't materialize as quickly as anticipated. Pretty soon, they had spent all of his severance pay. Their credit-card debts began increasing rapidly. Mike finally received a job offer, but the salary was much lower than his previous position. Plenty of damage had already been done.
Debbie shared how difficult they found it, for the longest time, to let go of things. Pride continued to get in the way of making the financial adjustments. Things continued to get worse (foreclosure proceedings were even started on the house), when they finally decided to offer the situation to God. They began tithing, reduced expenses where they could and prayed for God's will to be done. Interestingly, within a month, matters had improved sufficiently to stop the foreclo-sure proceedings. In my view, even more important than the change in housing circumstances was the change in attitude, illustrated by the following story:
The defroster fan in the front of their van broke. They needed the defroster for the drive to school during the winter months, but they didn't have the necessary funds to make the repair. Their son came to the rescue when he remembered that the fan in the back was working. He creatively taped a number of toilet-paper tubes together and attached them to the back fan, making it long enough to reach the front window. The invention worked! They celebrated their son as a hero; the whole family got a great laugh out of the whole episode. Do you see how they were now humbly accepting their changed circumstances?
When faced with a financial setback, certainly we need to make prudent reductions to our spending and continue seeking employment that will meet the needs of our family. Yet at least as important is accepting our situation with a humble heart. The Cure d'Ars, St. John Vianney, is quoted as having said, “Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary: Take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish.”
If you'll persevere and maintain a contented spirit when your cross is extra heavy (1 Timothy 6:6-11), you will be sure to grow in grace.
God love you!
Phil Lenahan is director of finance for Catholic Answers in El Cajon, California.
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