Rock County family survives economy with coupons and leftovers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rock County family survives economy with coupons and leftovers


JANESVILLE (WKOW)-- Unemployment is an unfortunate reality for thousands of GM workers in Janesville who will lose their jobs when the plant closes in December.

Their misfortune impacts numerous other businesses and ultimately, families in Rock County.

Kathy Norby lives in Janesville and shared her family's financial meltdown story in an email to 27 News:  "My husband has worked at Gilman Engineering in Janesville for 29 far he has not been able to find a job that compares to the salary he had at Gilman.  We have no insurance and the only income coming into the home is unemployment compensation...."

Kathy spoke with 27 News about the major life changes her family's made in order to weather this unemployment storm.

You can get an idea of what's left in Kathy and Mark Norby's bank account by looking inside their fridge.

You'll find dish after dish of leftovers, something Kathy says her family rarely use to eat.  Last month, leftovers became the norm when her husband, Mark lost his job at Gilman Engineering.

"After all these years having a good income and then boom," Mark explains.

Mark, Kathy and their two daughters now live off an unemployment check of only $1,420 a month, about $2,600 less than what Mark use to make.  Kathy can't work right now due to health reasons.

With a monthly mortgage payment of $1,345, there's not much left for anything else.

"When we go out and buy groceries we're putting it on a credit card now," Kath says. 

Kathy also clips coupons and packs her pantry with generic-brand groceries.

Kathy and Mark are also learning that trying to be financially responsible doesn't always pay off.

Although they can't afford their current mortgage payment, they also can't re-finance because neither is employed and they don't want to foreclose and damage their good credit history.

So, they're forced to sell their home at a discount price.

"We don't want to go into foreclosure, isn't there something out there?  We're responsible people and want to do the right thing.  We're just in a bad spot right now," Kathy says.

Mark remains optimistic.  "It'll get better again. We're just going through a valley and it'll get better."

In fact, the Norby's already see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Mark just received word of a job prospect in Madison.

Send questions or comments to Vanessa Shirley at

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