Monday, October 13, 2008

Unemployment Week 1 Report

All's well so far! I've been taking the time to work on cleaning up my apartment and getting rid of old stuff that I don't need anymore, mostly. I've done the unemployment application and paperwork so that's all set. In the process of reducing expenditures by cutting out nonessential bills. Goodbye, land line long-distance service! Goodbye, housekeeper (that's a sad one). Once I'm finished watching last season of Battlestar Galactica, goodbye DVR and a big chunk of TV channels (I'm keeping the HD tier but losing the "variety" tier, which will unfortunately cost me the SciFi channel, boo).

I'm really glad I got all my debts paid off right before this happened. I literally made the last payment on the Camaro on the day I got laid off.

I've done some tweaks to the comic site in order to accomodate advertising. There's already a new banner ad setup at the top of the page, and I'll be adding an ad to the sidebar too. My webcomic friends have been recommending a few online ad networks that can provide actual income that would help me support and grow the comic, which would be great. I'm a bit conflicted about adding advertising, but I kinda have to try as many things as possible.

Meanwhile, I'm selling a bunch of stuff on eBay. Here's the list. Also, for some reason one item isn't showing up on that list, so here it is. There's videos and magazines and software, and there will be lots more. I'm trying to put at least 2 or 3 items up every day, with large batches going up on Sundays. If you see anything you like, or that you think a friend might like, I'd be honored if you'd put in a bid. :)

Tonight I will be at Wumpskate doing caricatures and sketch cards for the first time since early this year! It will be nice to be able to actually stay late, not worrying about having to get up for work tomorrow. That'll be a lot more relaxed and fun, I'll be able to take my time and do better work. If you're in Los Angeles, come on down and let me sketch you! Hope to see you there. :)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Half-Expected, uh, Party?

It's a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, maybe a bit warm, but not too uncomfortable. It's sunny and the sky is clear and blue.

It's a nice way to start my first full day of unemployment. Yep, I've been downsized. Well, not exactly, it really wasn't a planned thing on the part of my company. Unfortunately, one of the two games we were working on got cancelled abruptly, and they haven't lined up any further work past the one that's still running, the just-announced Scratch: Ultimate DJ which will come out in the spring of 2009. Since most of the concept work for that one is done, with no new games ready to go there just isn't enough work (even with pitching new games) to keep on four concept artists, so Kevin and I were let go, along with about 10 others from various departments.

The company gave us some severance pay, and with that added to my accumulated vacation pay my final check is enough to hold me over for quite some time. Even with the new car payment, since I've paid off the Camaro and all but one of my credit cards, I don't have many bills that I can't cut right to the bone. The one card left doesn't have much left on it; I was going to pay it off this month because it would have been a 3-paycheck month, and I only budget myself for 2 paychecks a month (which is most months). Instead of paying it off I cut the payment back to $100 to preserve cash while still chopping down the balance.

With the severance and my savings, I'm not in any immediate financial danger. Unemployment will actually cover all of my most essential bills (rent, food, internet) and everything else can be reduced or eliminated. I suppose I'll miss the HD DVR, but once I'm done watching the last season of BSG from it (probably tonight!) I can lose it completely.

So if necessary, I can stretch for many months even if I don't see another penny of income - which simply isn't going to happen. I have skills and I have friends, so I'll get work of one kind or another soon enough.

Actually, for the past few weeks I've been working on cutting back my expenses anyway, in order to save more money for future things like the wedding and eventually a house, so I'm already in budgeting/cutback mode, which makes things much easier mentally and psychologically.

So, I'm unemployed. But believe it or not, I actually feel good about it. I honestly wasn't enjoying the work much lately at the company. I disagreed with some of the methods and processes in place there, and was frustrated a lot of the time at things which I perceived to be problems. I wasn't in any kind of a position to change any of these things or even express an opinion, so I just had to grit my teeth and deal with it.

Not to say that I was unhappy there all the time, the people I worked with are all good people who treat each other well and we had some fun, to be sure. But even so, I feel a lot lighter today. I wish it could have worked out better, and of course I wish everyone there the very best for the future.

I've been given the gift of time in exchange for a drastic reduction in income. Time is a rare gift to have handed to you, so I intend to make the most of it. With this gift of time, I have the opportunity to get a lot of things done that have been lying fallow, things like personal art, guitar playing, music recording, getting rid of stuff that I don't need, consolidating and storing the stuff that I do need but don't need laying around my place... even getting some exercise, working out. Having 11 hours a day handed back to me will let me do that for sure!

Anyway, so I've got some mixed feelings about it I suppose, but mostly I'm in a pretty good mood and I feel really positive about the whole thing. Certainly I'm not worried about "getting back on my feet," because I'm a long way from being knocked off them.

Bonus: all this free time means more Just A Bit Off comics! I should be able to do Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week, so come on back soon and check. If you like RSS feeds, you can click here and subscribe to the JABO feed, which shows the comic in your RSS/news reader. You'll always know when I update if you subscribe! If you haven't used RSS before, I recommend Google Reader!

If by any chance you'd like to help out financially, you could order a caricature or pick up something else from the Jeff Zugale Store. If you don't see anything you like in the store but have an idea for something you do like, please email me directly and I'll do my best!

It's all good, this is gonna be fun. It's still a beautiful day outside, and there's a lot of hours left to do stuff :)

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