When You Can’t Afford “Almost Free” Travel

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My name is Summer and I’m a travel addict.

Okay, maybe addict is a bit strong of a word, but it is safe to say that I’m a travel junkie.  I love travel.  It’s my #1 hobby, my biggest passion outside of my family, and I’m so lucky to have found the world of miles and points to help fund this otherwise potentially pricey hobby.

Since you are spending some of your time on this site, I’m betting many of you could write similar sentences about yourselves.

Most people assume that travel is expensive, and it certainly can be.  However, it can be very inexpensive, and thanks to miles and points, portions of it can be almost free.  For example, we recently used miles to fly to Jamaica and then spent a few nights on Hyatt points at their new all-inclusive property where lodging, meals, and activities were all included.  That portion of the trip was indeed “almost free” as the only cost was some Hyatt points we had to burn.

Of course, “almost free” is not the same as totally and completely free, and as you know, not all trips can be purely funded with miles and points.  It’s for those reasons that I’ve not been able to feed my addiction er, hobby with planning and booking new trips the last couple months, and it’s time I write a little about it because it is something very real that happens in lots of families.  If I do nothing else here, I want to keep the realities of family travel and family life real and honest.  Sometimes that will mean I’m encouraging you to pack up your kids and explore the world, and sometimes it will mean something a bit different.  Today it means something a bit different.

A couple months ago my husband went to work one Friday morning only to find himself by Friday afternoon in a situation that millions of other Americans are also facing – looking for a new job.  This wasn’t something we planned for or were expecting, and it goes without saying that suddenly having the primary provider of income and benefits for the family looking for work with a second child on the way is not the way we would have scripted this chapter of our lives.  As he is in the IT industry, we have been through this once years ago (before we were even married), but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow at this point in our lives.

Luckily, we will have savings, a small severance, and COBRA to serve as a buffer during this time of transition, but with a mortgage, a typical assortment of monthly bills, a kid here, and one on the way, we certainly have had to dramatically reign in spending on many “non-essential” purchases.  Thank goodness we don’t have any credit card debt despite having dozen of credit cards!

Determining what is truly essential and cutting back on things you are used to isn’t fun, nor pretty; it’s stressful, and week after week it’s still a work in progress, but needless to say we certainly haven’t booked any new family vacations since getting the news that cold Friday afternoon.

If your primary hobby is chess, reading, drawing, yoga, knitting, or a number of other things, then when something like an unexpected job change hits, you can theoretically still have that hobby as a good and healthy outlet.  However, when your hobby is travel, it isn’t so simple to keep that up during a time of really cutting back.  Lucky for me I can still write about my hobby and help others book the trips of their dreams, which really is almost as good.  Thanks to everyone who unknowingly has been helping out when they share their booking success stories in the comments section or via email!

Also luckily for me miles and points do make it possible to enjoy some travel even while budgets are very tight.  For example, I have a trip to Spain with my mom and daughter coming up very soon.  This trip was in part a Christmas present to my mom, and given our unexpected change in financial circumstances it would be hard to continue on with a trip to Europe.  However, since the hotels are booked on points instead of cash, we can still go on the trip without it being a huge financial burden.

We can also still use airline miles and such to book trips to see relatives, or for some very inexpensive weekend getaways even if the job search drags on longer than we would like.  We won’t be traveling super frequently, or going on all of the same types of trips as we were before, but we won’t be totally cut-off either.  That is a pretty reassuring feeling when we are facing so many other unknowns.  We certainly wouldn’t be able to consider any of that right now without a nice stash of miles and points to tap into.

So what does all of this change and uncertainty mean for this site?  Right now, nothing really.  It is the same as it has been the last few months, and the last few years.  Even if we aren’t hopping on $355 round trip flights to Hawaii ourselves, I still love writing about them.  I still have some trip reports to write up, and a couple more inexpensive trips booked on the horizon.  I just applied for and received a new rewards credit card yesterday (more on that soon), and I don’t see my love and time devoted to this hobby changing in any near future.  Since our second daughter is due this summer, I was already going to be a bit more home-bound for a while, so nothing really changes there either.

Longer term, might I need to secure a full time job once more, and scale back here?  It’s possible.  Right now, almost anything is possible.  Blogging certainly is a full time job, but without full time job benefits and a traditional steady paycheck.  Hopefully this time of transition resolves itself successfully, and we are able to go back to “normal”, albeit with a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding of what is really important.  I mean, that’s how it happens in the movies, right?

Seriously though, I have full faith in my husband, and know we will work together and be fine.  I don’t know exactly what that will end up looking like, and I know it won’t always be easy in the day to day moments, but we’ll make it.  I’ll live a little more vicariously through the exciting travels of all of you guys for a while and mix in a few of our own very inexpensive jaunts using miles and points.  I also get the chance to look back on all the amazing trips we have been able to take over the past several years.

Miles and points are sometimes there to help your vacation budget stretch to some incredible destinations in incredible comfort, and sometimes they are there to just make it possible to book that airline ticket at all.  We’ve seen both sides of that coin, and as a travel junkie, I’m grateful for both realities.

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Comments

  1. i hope your partner finds something soon. Perhaps you can expand your blog and bring in other writers like travexcodex, thepointsguy etc have done. You could still edit it all, but I wouldn’t scale back too much. I think you’re in most readers’ top 5 travel/points blogs. With some smart planning the enterprise might be able to become self sustaining with you as ceo/chief editor

    • Robert, thanks for the comment. Theoretically lots of options on the table, so who knows where life will take us next. I know there are no plans to close up shop here, and I appreciate you reading.

  2. So sorry to hear that! I hope your husband finds a great new position soon. I love that you guys have such a positive attitude about it– that can help get you through almost anything. Good luck!

    • Kris, thanks. We are doing our best to keep a positive attitude – there are tough moments no doubt, but I agree the trick is to try and remain positive as much as possible.

  3. Summer, this could not have come at a better time for me. I found your blog and away I traveled and traveled and traveled. I was able to meet you and Darius from MMS and enjoy reading your blogs every day. I too have found myself in a situation that has forced me to cut my almost free travel. Leaving for Florida next week and the only other trip that is semi planned is Hawaii for our 25th anniversary in October. I too am hoping my financial picture improves quickly . This post was very honest and raw and it is important to let people know the truth. Things happen and we do not always plan for them. But now I do not feel alone and I am sure others are in the same boat. Thank you!

    • Christine, oh big hugs to you. You are totally not alone, and thanks for sharing a part of your story. This sort of stuff happens to many, many people at one time or another and while it feels isolating and like you are the only one dealing with it, that certainly is not the case. I hope you enjoy the trips you have booked and that your situation improves as quickly as possible.

      • And Summer, we can always look back at those hundreds of photos with memories of trips we took that perhaps we never thought we could or would.

  4. Summer I am sorry to hear this. If you are interested in returning to your former career please let me know. I will do anything I can to help you.

    • Cyndi, you’re the best. Thanks for your support, and I’ll definitely keep you in the loop if it looks like that’s the direction we are going to go in. Miss you!

  5. Oh no, we won’t see more Park Hyatt trip reports. Welcome to the reality of most of us who don’t have the means to book a Park Hyatt NYC with straight cash.

    • John, that was always my reality, too. My one night stay at the PH NYC was booked 100% with points. Thanks for reading.

    • Don’t be such a whiner! She has built her blog through a lot of hard work. If she stays in a PH, what do you care?? I can’t do stuff at the level she does, but I learn from her and others who do. Oh, but I could pay ca$h for a PH, but now I wouldn’t want to.

    • @John That’s incredibly insensitive to say to someone going through an unexpected difficulty. It’s always an option to simply not read the blog if you don’t like reading about Park Hyatts, and it’s a much better option than being unnecessarily rude.

  6. have you checked obamacare rates for comparison? Usually COBRA rates are the highest around because only those who need it, get it. (Or that was true before o’care and pre-existing condition coverage)

    • Colleen, truthfully we haven’t done all the research we need to there yet. Our previous coverage hasn’t yet run out, but that day is coming. Since I am in the middle of a pregnancy and have already worked out the financials and made payments with our current plan/providers I’m betting that can complicate wanting to switch anything up too much right now, but we’ll probably have to dig much deeper into all that as COBRA sure isn’t cheap.

      • You really can’t make any assumptions about the costs or quality of the policy under COBRA. It just the law that means his former employer must let him stay on the same plan up to 18 months, but the insured must normally pay all the costs. The former employer could tell you the cost.

        Sorry to here the news. I’m in IT and 60. That’s like 80 in normal years, so it would likely be retirement time if I was let go.

    • I would not recommend signing up with O’failurecare – too many identity theft problems and also highly unreliable.

      • Keep your partisan politics to yourself, especially if you’re not going to provide a source for your ridiculous comment.

        • “If you LIKE your doctor, you can KEEP your doctor.

          “If you LIKE your plan, you can KEEP your plan.”

          SOURCE: Obama

          Ofailurecare is flawed at its very core. It was and still is today – a huge lie, forced down the throats of the American citizenry. I’m sure it was recommended to Summer in good faith. But I for one will not “shut up” about it; I will sound the warning bell whenever it is mentioned. I actually think ebola’s lies alone hold enough merit to impeach. Unfortunately that cannot happen, since we have so many sheeple in this country.

  7. As a person who has been a stay at home mom for +13 years through many different financial situations… Starting from ZERO $$$, don’t go to work unless you have to or want to. You’ll find a way! Free travel is definitely NOT free. I’m glad I got into this when I did cause it I feel like our other investments were more important before and traveling too much would have been a distraction.

    • Jill, we will do our best to keep me as available as possible for our kiddos, but we’re keeping an open mind to how all that will look. I’m glad to hear you found a way to make it all work for you!

  8. Thanks for sharing. You have a wonderful attitude, which is hard to maintain when you don’t know what lies ahead. I wish the best to your family and am looking forward to reading your upcoming posts.

    • Denise, thank you for reading and your comment. As a bit of a control freak, an uncertain future certainly teaches lots of lessons. 😉

  9. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing, Summer. Truly appreciate you sharing as I am currently in a somewhat similar situation and trying to determine what my next steps will be. You have unlimited opportunities ahead of you!

  10. Summer …

    I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s job.

    I understand your stress. A couple of years ago my husband’s job circumstances changed & we lost a significant portion of his pay. It has been difficult, but even in the difficulties, there have been some unexpected blessings.

    I will be praying that your husband will find a better job and that you will also see unexpected blessings as a result.

    Thank you for all you do to help those of us who love to travel to have the means to be able to do so.

  11. sometmes you feel so afraid
    just aim beyond the clouds
    and rise above the crowds
    and start your own parade.

    from the song, I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN

    your # 1 fan,
    GrandpaPoints

  12. Sorry to hear about hubby’s job loss. As a previous poster stated, I would definitely look at the Healthcare Exchange for better options. A lady that I work with, her mother, lost her job and saved almost $300 per month with the exchange vs. COBRA.
    Don’t be afraid or ashamed of him going on unemployment until another job comes along. This is the perfect example of what unemployment is there for.
    As for the travel, I absolutely love to travel but find my family breaking away only 1x per year for a nice vacation. Although we have points, etc., my husband is military and I work full time and it is sometimes difficult to get our dates aligned. The travel will come again. 🙂
    The best of luck to him in his job search, now is the best time of the year for a career change (spring-summer). Towards the end of the year major companies tend to freeze roles so their financials close out better.
    All the best to you!

  13. Sorry to hear about the job situation, but hopefully that will be rectified soon. I’m happy to read that you will not be giving up the blog as I really enjoy your insights and open style. Also, congrats on the impending new arrival!

  14. Summer, thank you for this post. The thing I love most about your blog is the clearsighted focus on FAMILY travel, instead of luxury travel. This post addresses a different part of the family travel lifestyle, and I really appreciate that.

  15. I was also caught in a downsizing many years ago and can say now it was a good thing that happened to me. I figured out how to live very frugally and have always kept those lessons learned and incorporated them into my life–ready for the unexpected. Good luck to your family.

  16. Summer,
    Thanks for sharing. I can relate to this situation as well. Maybe it’s just a way that God is telling you to slow down for a little bit. Think of it as a way to not only save money but to replenish your stock of points and miles. It could have a big impact on your elite status but that’s overrated. This will also bring some blog topics into a new perspective as well.

    Hang in there. Besides maybe your husband will find a better job that he likes more 🙂

    Dan

  17. Your blog has been very helpful to me to be able to travel much more for much, much less money. You say that you are something of a control freak. I was also, and still am sometimes. But I’ve figured out that sometimes you have to give up control to get control. Good luck to you and your family.

  18. Summer,

    Sorry to hear about your husband’s job loss and I hope all goes well with his job search. I can definitely say I am glad you wrote about this personal information as I to am going thru the exact situation I was the main source of income and was recently let go and I thru your article I Can say with time all will go back to normal like you said “with a renewed sense of appreciation and understanding of what is really important”

    I personally was already planning a family trip to Turkey as I a travel junkie like you say But all that planning is already out the window until further notice. at least we all have the memories for now until normality is restored. The kids always thank me for our most recent trip to China and tell me not to worry as there WILL be A next trip.

    Again keep your hopes up and thanks for all those great articles that have converted me to a Travel Junkie

  19. Summer, I am sorry to hear about your situation, it is especially stressful considering you have a baby on the way. My husband and I also live in Houston so I definitely enjoy your blog. It’s not fun you have to scale back on travel. We did that in 2013 for a different reason (saved for a rental property) and I love to travel so I kind of felt like I have no outlet…and I am still not completely familiar with this points and miles game yet, we also have our own set of travel challenges even we get to travel (my husband is quadriplegic so travel is A LOT of planning and some places are simply too difficult for us to go to, like Maldives, no matter how many miles or points we have).

    All I am saying it everyone has his or her own challenges. Please don’t give up on the blog – there are still plenty of things to write besides trip reports – credit card offers, airline routes changes, etc. and I hope things will turn around for you soon!

  20. Summer,

    Your blog is so popular because of honest posts like this. Your blog will be fine! You have lots of fans. You have so much to write about even if you aren’t always on the go. Hang in there.
    PS – I’m writing this ftom the beach at the Hyatt Jamaica – recognized the chairs right away! Redeemed points for a weekend away from the kids and this place does really feel free since it is all inclusive.

  21. Summer,
    I love your faith in your husband. As someone who will be celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary in 2 weeks in Paris ( on points/miles, of course), I can’t tell you how important that faith in and respect for him is. We weathered more than a few layoffs ( He was in aerospace), but I was teaching most of the time, so we didn’t lose benefits. But when I was pregnant with our second, I wasn’t working, and he got laid off. We lost the car, and almost lost the house, but we came through, and so will you. Best wishes!

  22. Summer,

    As one of your biggest fan, I will keep your family in my prayers that your husband can find a new and meaningful employment soon. I’ve gone through layoff myself but only when I was a single guy… now with 2 little kids I can’t imagine what that would be like. I hope things turn around soon for your family. How about posting what your husband does? Networking is key in finding jobs and with so many fans and readers you never know who could be reading your blog! Your fans are here to help anyway we can. Just ask!

  23. Summer, I have throughly enjoyed reading your blog over the past year and a half that I have been following it, even though my wife makes fun of me for reading something called, “Mommy Points.” Best of luck to you and your family in this difficult time. I truely hope you keep writing the blog. It has been so helpful. It is the only decent points blog that focus on families and that means something. I have been into points about 5 years, but I truely stepped up my game about a two years ago. Shortly there after I found your blog.

    My family (2 adults & 2 kids under 4) in I are going the BOS-DUB Avios reception on Aer Lingus in J this summer. I would be happy to write a trip report if you need help.

  24. I am sorry to hear about your situation. Whenever one door closes, some other door will open. It has been awhile since I apply for cards; thus, I will use your site (also send my friends and family). Hope this would help a little bit. Thanks.

  25. First off, your dad’s response made me tear up–you have an awesome family support system! You can also tell that you are so connected with your readers as we are all cheering you on, too. You guys WILL get through this & you’ll have a crazy pregnancy story to tell your daughters years from now when you’re on the other side. We were soooo broke when I was pregnant with our son & we’re much more thrifty & appreciative of what we have now if we had not have gone through that hard time. My husband’s company is for sale & our modest but fun traveling lifestyle could come to a halt for sure but I’ve learned so much. We have the SW Pass because of blogs like yours so even if worse comes to worse, we could still go visit family for the next 2 years without stressing. Good luck & sending good thoughts your way!!

  26. Summer, please post a brief bio of your husband’s skill set, am sure he’ll will be offered to you… Like another comment says… You never know who is reading your blog. If you want his resume forwarded to tech companies in the bay area then feel free to email me and I can connect with many recruiters since I have them contacting me every week for openings which I am not available for. So there’s lots of hope. Most important thing is to not stress out at this stage of pregnancy, good luck!

  27. So sorry to hear about the job, Summer. I join the others in hoping that he is able to find something again soon. As others have said, if relocation is an option, I know several people around the US that may be able to help out. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

  28. Many hugs to you Summer and your family.

    I used to vicariously travel thru PBS travel shows (still do!) so I understand that when life throws one lemons…bringing the world to you is easier than bringing yourself to the world.

    Sometimes I give this blog a hard time, but I truly enjoy reading it. You’ve always shown grace in your responses. And I know that you’ve given your family the best gift of all- your love and time. I know things will work out for the best, even if it takes awhile to get there.

    Hugs and many wishes for great things to come.

    Something to amuse you with: just realized that my SPG card photo is of the Maldives. Hope that brings a smile and perhaps a laugh to cheer you up! 🙂

    Just wondering if you have to go back to work full time…and since you’ve already been on TV…is it possible to do some sort of travel show on TV? I don’t recall there being a true points and miles travel show on PBS or cable. I love seeing all the destination and cooking travel shows, but why not a M&P MP show?? You already have a base audience to start and knowledge of producing ideas…why not?

    -Icicle

  29. CA provides stable health coverage for those who need it but cannot afford the cost. The ObamaCare does not impact health care coverage in CA like most other states and I feel fortunate to live here.Cobra is highly expensive so you need to look into other alternatives fast. The Bay are is on the top five most expensive places to live in the nation. Your husband can get a job there but you may live paycheck to paycheck. Are you interested in relocating overseas, such as the wealthy Gulf state in Mid-East? Texas seems to have high concentration of people with extreme views in life like their counterparts in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana etc… so it takes big effort to become a global person.You will not have an opportunity to enjoy the miles and points games. But you can accumulate big savings as there are no taxes of any kind. They will provide you annual coach airfare tickets home, peanut monthly rent inclusive,free education at American school but it is beneficial if they learn Arabic, free medical/dental/ prescriptions coverage(two decades ago). You can use your ticket home to exchange for ticket travel to Asia, Europe and Africa. But try to relocate back home when your children attend middle school to get employment that offers pension, benefits and others. Don’t let news coverage deter you from considering living in that volatile region. What you see and read in the news may not reflect reality on the ground. But it requires you to come in with open-mind and accept different culture way of life. Personally, if I have consumer debts, I won’t have a jet-setting lifestyle like many others, maybe one overseas vacation every three years, because I don’t want to be at the mercy of any lender or employer when I have household costs to worry about.

  30. “But it requires you to come in with open-mind and accept different culture way of life.”

    Unless those different culture ways are in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana etc. Then, not so much. They have people with extremist views, unlike the Gulf states and mid-east.

    I don’t know what’s sadder – the post itself or the lack of recognition of the hypocricy of it.

    I don’t engage in political debate on the web, and this wasn’t intended as political. But crikey.

  31. Summer, some years ago, I found myself unemployed when my employer had to shut down. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me – I found a much better, more fulfilling job as a result. Hope that soon your husband is as fortunate as I was.

    And your family’s experience reminds me how petty my “first world problems” actually are.

  32. I know people’s first instinct is to rush to another job, but instead of staying put, he now actually has more freedom to travel. Since you’re expecting, y’all can’t just move to Bali for a month, but exploring more of America is now an option. Just stick to Category 1 hotels that have free WiFi and he can do his job search while you keep blogging.

  33. Summer,

    Sorry to hear this news. Has your husband considered an IT job with the federal govt? There are tons of jobs in that field. I work for the federal govt, and while it’s not glamorous the pay is great, the hours are normal, and the health insurance and retirement plans are excellent.

  34. Summer,

    Your blog is a daily must read, and your travel chronicles inspirational. I know your family will overcome this challenge. Best wishes.

  35. Thinking of you and your family during this time of transition (in more ways than one!). As someone who has gotten extraordinary value from this blog for many years for my own family, I wish you tons of success in your own business endeavors while your husband makes the switch to hopefully something new and better!

  36. Sorry to hear about your husband’s job loss. That really stinks. 🙁
    Best of luck to him in finding something new (and great) soon.
    I’m sure you’ll have plenty to write about, even if you aren’t going on tons of trips. I really enjoy your insights and personal twist on things. And (thankfully!) it sounds like you haven’t had to completely give up travel.
    I have to second the advice that you not hang around the house too much during this time. My husband was out of a job when our second was born until nearly a year. We didn’t get out of the house a lot, which lead to a bit too much together time, which is kind of a recipe for disaster when you’re in a stressful period. I wish we had done more day trips or gone for a few days away somewhere close. He isn’t going to be able to be job hunting 100% of the time and you may as well be making lemonade with your lemons by doing some fun stuff as a family. Book a hotel with points and do some free activities.
    All the confidence in the world that you guys will pull through this. And can’t wait to hear all the wisdom you acquire along the way.

  37. So sorry to hear that. I work for one of the largest IT staffing firms in the country and would be happy to help your husband find a new job if you send me an email. Have a ton of great clients and open positions coming across my desk everyday and always searching for great candidates to fill those roles.

    Like I said, happy to help just drop me an email!

  38. You know there are tons of people who are avid miles addicts who never travel. They use all the miles and points for giftcards. Even at 1 cent a point or mile giftcards can add up.

  39. Thank you sincerely for all of your supportive comments. One thing we have certainly already been reminded of during this time is that you can’t always do it alone. Sometimes you get to be the one helping others, and others times you have to be strong enough to accept help where offered. So, to those of you who have reached out and offered some job search ideas or assistance, we will be following up.

    We hope to stay put in the Houston area as we have a very affordable house, low cost of living, good friends, family close by, and a strong support system. We hope very much to not have to leave all of that (especially with a a baby on the way), but we’ll see what happens.

    I’ll see if Josh wants to post a short summary of what he does as he could describe that skill set better than me, but seriously thanks to you guys both for reading the site and for your support during this crazy chapter of our lives.

  40. I’ve only just read this post, Summer, but I echo what everyone else has said and wish you all the best and look forward to continue reading your blog each day.

  41. Summer, good luck with your husband’s job search. You two could hit the manufacturing spending harder now. $500-$1k per month is not much compared to the salary from a IT job but it would cover diaper cost with just a few hours of work

  42. Summer, incredibly brave post. Thank you for going there.

    Pregnancy puts any woman into a more vulnerable state of mind…you have another life in there! Adding a curve ball can make it seem even more so. Some days it may all seem too much.

    I had a curveball thrown at me during my 2nd pregnancy. Only once I made it out the other side (and you will make it out the other side) did I appreciate the strength of what a Mom could carry.

    Rock on, girl. You can do this. Whatever “this” ends up being.

  43. What kind of IT industry does your husband work for? Oil company or others? We live in Houston, too. My husband works in IT field, too. Would you like to email me and let 2 husbands discuss IT jobs?

  44. Uh, mommypoints, I do think you left out a couple of critical details of your current circumstances. In the midst of such mundane life events as job loss timed during a pregnancy, you were also cosmically visited with the gift of a school age child with lice. While washing every cloth surface (slight exaggeration) in both your house and those of the grandparents, the city notifies you to not use much water due to temporary impaired sewer service on your street. Those are the kind of life experiences that brings deer-in-the-headlight expressions to anyone’s face.

  45. Hi Summer,
    I’m so sorry to hear about this, but admire your honesty and attitude. It’s why you are so successful as a blogger.

    I know that this is merely a dip in the road and much better things (i.e. another job/career for your husband) lie ahead. Not sure if you remember, but I work in The Woodlands, so I will check out job openings in our IT department (we’re a global Fortune 500 company) and forward links to your email. It would be a manageable commute for your husband since a number of our employees work in your area. And The Woodlands keeps growing with more companies on the way, so definitely check that out (if you aren’t already). The biggest company coming to T.W. is ExxonMobil. Word is that they will definitely lose some staff because some will just not want the commute (used to going downtown).
    Anyway, the very best wishes and I’ll email you anything in the IT world. But I agree with earlier postings that if Josh is comfortable, sharing his skill set on this site could be huge. Networking is the most important thing in finding a job!!!

    • Woodlands would be ideal. Truly the point of this post was not to solicit help, but there is no doubt it’s 99% about networking. I’m sure he will share skill set specifics shortly and thanks again.

      • +1 on the networking. Last time I lost a job, I was out of work for 2 months and made 50% more on the new one! “Keep calm and carry on!”

  46. Summer – I am so sorry to hear what your family is going through. The honesty in your blog posts is what keeps your blog at the top of my list. I’m sure that your family will persevere and come out stronger from this. I don’t live in Houston (I live in the Northeasat), but I do work in IT. If there’s any way that I can help out, feel free to email me.

  47. Best of luck, I’m sure the situation will work out in the end! Echoing some other comments, please keep the blog going at full-throttle. You’re one of the best.

  48. I used to work in engineering/software development/IT until the dot.com bust in 2001, when I was laid off. At the time it seemed like quite a setback. However things DO happen for a reason. I began a new career that I had never really considered, but others said I would be perfect for. And that was teaching programming/IT at the local community college. Best decision I ever made. Such a good decision, that I encouraged my wife to do the same. Sure, the yearly salary is not as high as working for corporate, but the benefits working in education more than make up for it. My wife and I both work for the same local community college and our daughter is in the public school system. 17 weeks of vacation per year.
    My wife and I and our daughter can all take vacations at the same time, as we pretty much all have 12-13 weeks of the 17 weeks off at the same time. Also Information Assurance / Security IT is huge right now. Email me if your husband wants to find out more about teaching.

  49. Summer!!! I am truly sorry to hear about your husband’s job situation. Although I understand how bad it is to lose a job you should look on the bright side where you are all healthy and that is what matters the most. Focus on the new child that is coming and the rest of your family since those are the most important things we have in life. A job is a job and he will get a better one soon. Here are some tips:
    1) If your husband is not on LinkedIn already, ask him to sign up and get his profile updated the best as he can. Many HR professionals use LinkedIn to find the best talents and that is a place to network. If he is already there, ask him to spend time to carefully update his profile, add a professional picture, etc.. You can help him with that since you are an awesome writer;
    2) I understand you guys live in Houston and have family there but keep your options open and consider relocation. I know it is not ideal but sometimes we miss better opportunities because we are comfortable where we are. I’ve been in this situation and avoided relocation before but once I did it all went well and I never looked back;
    3) I know you don’t want to use your blog to talk about your family situation but you should keep us updated as we may be able to help. Who knows!!! We don’t know each other but by reading your blog everyday I fell I know you guys and care about it. All your readers may be able to help with connections, contacts, network, etc..
    As for the travelling part I would keep your plan. Maybe it is good to scale it down but sometimes leaving your home will help you to recharge and not focus on this all the time. My only problem when people say you can travel for “free” is that it is not always free. You spend on small things you wouldn’t if you were at home. Yes, air travel, hotels and rental cars can be free but you end up spending on taxi, meals, shopping, etc… that you wouldn’t if you did not travel. Thus, just keep those in mind.
    BTW, have you though about turning your blog into a full time job for profit? What I mean is that with your experience you could easily become a travel agent or help your readers to book flights and hotels using miles and points by charging a fee. Many bloggers do that and I would happily use your services. All the best!!!

    • I think it may be a forthcoming blog post, but while I love, love, love exploring the world with my family and experiencing different places, I am strongly against moving with young kids. I think so many families (both by choice and necessity) have scattered, leading to a lack of a good support system, safety net, and connectedness between generations. I’ve moved away and had a great time before, but with kids to me it is just so valuable to live around other family members for everyone’s sake. Now, when the kids are grown…. 😉

      I would move i I had to, but relocating would be very far down on the list of things I’d want to do in the foreseeable future. I know it works great from some others, though! The blog is a full time job for profit, the profit just isn’t to the level of reliably supporting a family. I did award bookings for charge very briefly years ago, but it is extremely time intensive, so to pull it off you really have to manage a team you outsource the bookings to.

      Lots of options though and time will tell how things shape up. Appreciate your suggestions and thoughts!

      • Totally understandable. I moved from my home country to the US almost 15 years ago. I had been married for just over 1 year and my wife and I agreed it was a good time to come here to get a Masters degree. After that we ended up getting many job offers and decided to stay. Although we miss our family we made the right choice. But again, each case is different. We already moved twice within the US and now with kids in elementary school we feel our window to move again is closing since once kids are in middle and high school that is the most difficult time for them to move.

        • You live in Houston, no need to relocate! I come from a rural area and so many things aren’t doable there and people have to move. If you live somewhere affordable, don’t take an IT job in San Francisco (or wherever) for huge $$ cause the costs will be even bigger. As a person who is raising my family away from any family, it is extremely challenging. If you want to move, there are great things to experience by doing it, but if you DON’T then DON’T there are huge trade offs.

      • I agree with you so much about how it’s really desirable to stick around as far as your permanent location goes, with younger kids. I think that it’s ideal if they can have a very stable home base from which to explore. Things may not always work out that way, but when making decisions it’s good to remember the positives of keeping that “home” consistent.
        I’d love to read a blog post that explores this topic more.

  50. Politics and bickering aside, you should really stay away from COBRA and go to healthcare.gov.

    You can use this calculator to see the cost:

    http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator

    A 40-year-old, a 35-year old, and a child could get a plan for $613/month but get $448/month in subsidies. The total cost for your plan would be $165/month. (This is assuming you make $3,000 a month blogging. I have no clue how close that is to being true.)

    The new health care model actually takes a lot of pressure off of your husband to find a new job. That is, unless the Supreme Court invalidates it… I don’t see the Texas state government coming to your rescue in that case…

  51. Summer, i am sorry to hear about your husbands job loss! I am just now seeing this blog post. While it may be frightening at first it will most certainly work itself out and probably for the better. I went through a similar scenario in the 2009 recession but it works out one way or another. Wishing your family all the best!

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