What the Holidays Do to the Construction Industry

Well, Christmas is over, but the financial loophole I’m in remains. What am I talking about? Let me tell you…

In carpentry and construction, during the holiday season (from around Thanksgiving until January 12th or so) work gets really slow. Really slow. Construction workers and contractors can usually only get about 10-20 hours of work per week. And that’s not enough to pay the bills.

Slow moving

Construction work during the holidays is as slow as this stuff. In January. Going uphill.

I can’t exactly go to the unemployment office because I’m not employed. Some dudes actually injure themselves so that they can get workman’s comp to get them through. But that just doesn’t seem right to me (and the company frowns on it). Some dudes ask the company to lay them off so that they can get unemployment. But then who knows if they’ll hire you back mid-January?

So we’re screwed. My wife and I took a long time and decided to pull some money from our retirement accounts to get us through this time. I really don’t like asking family for money, that’s usually a bad idea. And the last thing we want is some loan. I take on as many side jobs as I can, but it’s just not enough to get us through.

A lot of families in America right now are living paycheck to paycheck, and right now, that’s us too. But that’s just the way it goes when you’re in the construction industry.

So we bit the bullet and pulled a little from our retirement. We’re rolling with the punches though, trying not to stress out. We’ll replace it when things pick back up, but it sucks for right now.


What the Holidays Do to the Construction Industry — 11 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear of the need to pull money out of retirement…..but way to tell the truth on the carpenter business…..having been there and done that for 40 Christmas times I can relate…one company I worked three years in a row gave us a turkey and a layoff notice for the holidays…I used to tell all my friends who worked in the shops and got paid holidays, “Christmas, that’s just an unpaid day in the middle of the week.” …..just work together with that wonderful wife and things will get better, I still think the secret for having a little is working together and not looking to find fault…..

  2. I’m really sorry to hear about your situation. I’ve talked to many friends in the construction industry that are sharing similar stories.

    I understand when you say “the last thing we want is some loan” but I’m curious why it would be the last thing? I would think a credit card, unsecured loan, auto loan, or HELOC would all be viable options. The interest rates would range from 3-15%…which is lower than the 25% you pay on taxes + 10% penalty. Just my 2 cents…

    Maybe your blog income will soon cover these dry spells. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
    funancials recently posted..Where Will You Be When The Bond Bubble Bursts?My Profile

  3. Just a thought but it have made more sense to keep the money set aside till you saw how the year would go. I’m assuming pulling it out means paying extra taxes.

    And yes this is the big downside to being self employed, which is why I’m quite happy that being an employee (well technically it’s my wife that’s the employee me is unemployed)


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  5. Gosh, that’s terrible. Makes sense, though: people are gonna resist the chaos of a repair or renovation project when relatives are in town…or when they have to leave town to go visit their own relatives. Plus people who celebrate Christmas don’t have any extra money at this time of year.

    Hmmm…. Funancials may have something. I wonder if it would be better to take out a loan to get over this time, especially with interest as low as it is. Maybe one of those peer-to-peer loans would be better than borrowing against the house or on a credit card. Also, can you borrow against your retirement fund, rather than taking money directly out of it? That would be a MUCH better deal, if it’s possible.

    It might be good to try to put aside say, $100 a month in a rainy-day fund. It’d only be $1200 come the year-end holidays, but that would still be better than nothing.
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