Savings Habit A Lifesaver Until Tide Turns For Jobless Woman

By George Erb
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Americans have a mixed record when it comes to savings. In a survey of American families last year, one third of the respondents told The Pew Charitable Trust that they had no savings. This is one Seattle woman’s story.

SEATTLE

Terri Tidwell is hoping for some continuity after getting laid off twice, losing her health insurance twice and getting married, all this year.

She has survived her job losses by relying on a severance package and unemployment insurance. Some personal-finance tips that she learned years ago from her grandfather also served her well.

The 57-year-old Seattle-area resident is now heading into 2017 with a new job, a new husband and a new financial plan designed to carry her to a secure retirement.

Tidwell’s trials began in 2015, when her longtime employer, QBE Insurance Group, gave her an advance layoff notice at the global company’s Seattle-area office, which was shedding employees because of consolidation. She had worked for years in the accounts-receivable department.

Her layoff date was postponed twice. But Tidwell’s 32-year career with the insurer ended April 29, when she carried her personal belongings out of a depopulated office.

“There was hardly anybody left to say goodbye to,” she said.

The company gave her a lump-sum severance of about $48,000, the equivalent of a year’s salary. Tidwell put the money in the bank and signed up for unemployment insurance, about $597 a week after taxes.

Then she spent two weeks relaxing with friends in California. After resting and recharging, Tidwell came home and started looking for work.

Her circumstances were nerve-racking, but she had cash flow from the unemployment insurance as well as some accumulated assets.

Tidwell and her former husband in 1990 bought a house for $116,000, and in 2003 she became the sole owner with the divorce settlement, records show.

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