September 25, 2008

It's The Economy, Stupid*

A few months ago, I started talking politics and ended with a question for all of you, something about the issue that most concerned you. You, being brilliant, mentioned the economy quite a few times.

Now, I'm going to have to admit to being a bad blogger lately. You all come by and visit and I rarely return the favor these days. What with the big important job, two kids and the need to sleep more than three hours a night, I'm running short on time. And yet you keep visiting despite my lack of reciprocation and for that I'm grateful. My point - aside from telling you how awesome you are - is this: the few blogs I have managed to visit over the last week echo the concerns you shared earlier. The state of the economy is justifiably freaking you out.

Back in 2001, after planes flew into buildings, wars were declared and the security of our lives was color-coded, the economy went to hell and my job went with it. I was employee number 30 of a small company that grew to over 200. Despite my loyalty and pretty damn good performance, I lost my job in the third round of layoffs. Now, sure, I landed a job - my current job - two months later. Sure, we managed to feed ourselves and no one got too overly freaked out. But it proved that the things you count on being permanent sometimes aren't.

How has this economy (or lack thereof) affected you? What are the first sacrifices you'll make? Or have you already started? And, most importantly, how would you fix the situation?

The reason I ask is this: real people - people who stand in assembly lines or ride desks all day, people with children, single mothers, stay-at-home fathers, people trying to sell their homes or put gas in their cars - are the ones who feel the most acute pain and the people in the best position to find an answer. Not politicians.

* No, I'm not trying to insult you. It's a now-famous James Carville line from the '92 presidential campaign.

Posted by Chris at September 25, 2008 6:15 AM

I just marvel at the audacity of our President going on TV last night and telling us we have to fix this. I didn't watch any of it (I'd rather watch Real World/Road Rules Challenge), but I know that was the general gist of it. And I'm's your fault we're in this mess! And John McCain suspends his campaign for this? Why didn't he suspend it to discuss the climate crisis? Or the oil shortage after Hurricane Ike? But this is about money, so of course he's going to immediately deal with it.

Oh man, let me get off my soapbox. I'm lucky to have a good job, but I'm still worried, especially about gas prices. I love to travel and aimlessly drive around, but I can't do that anymore. And of course, I'm worried about how all of this will affect me in the future.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 25, 2008 7:09 AM

Given, the situation here is a bit better. Still I worry about interest rates.

I got laid off when I was pregnant. It worked out ok. Is it sad that part of me wouldn't mind a lay off right now?

Posted by: Nat at September 25, 2008 7:53 AM

My husband within the past 8 years of this administration has lost four jobs due to layoffs and downsizing (because the company couldn't keep afloat as is). So, we've been hit time and time again - I've been fortunate to keep my job (actually, VERY fortunate, as my company shut down the MI location, and I was spared given that I had arranged to work from home - 80 ppl lost their jobs...).

I'm not a numbers person, admittedly - so I don't know how to fix it - though part of me thinks, my god, if all this money spent on reelection campaigning was put towards fixing this - all the money for flying private jets from one end of the country to another for stupid "town hall meetings" so these candidates can get their egos stroked - well, that is a huge amount of money. HOW MANY PEOPLE are really undecided so far on this election? I've had my mind made up since day one, but I figure at this point all this back and forth and mudslinging ads and commercial production and air time and signs and print ads... surely this can't all be NECESSARY? I mean, how in the hell did they elect a president fifty years ago? They didn't do all this, did they?

And that we are still in Iraq spending gobs of money daily for this war, while american lives are being lost? Insane.

Posted by: Sarah at September 25, 2008 7:53 AM

And duh... I didn't mean "re-election" campaigning. I just meant the presidential campaign in general. No coffee yet.

Posted by: sarah at September 25, 2008 7:55 AM

I lost my job in November due to "centralizing of services." Translation: "We've decided to give your job to somebody in India who will do a crap job, but we can pay them a fourth of what you make." I was lucky, I found a 20-week contract position at a former employer three days later and I'm still there almost a year later. But it's a temporary job, which means no benefits. And it could end tomorrow.

We got rid of all debt (yea!) except our mortgage, we don't eat out much at all and never at lunch, we try to consolidate errands and drive the car that uses less gas more often, we pay more attention to what we buy at the grocery store, and we're not planning on buying a new car unless mine dies (it has over 110,000 miles on it).

Posted by: Carolyn at September 25, 2008 8:05 AM

My job is on the line. I work for a state-funded university, and our budget has been cut nearly in half. I survived the "short list" the first time around, but my loyalty, dependability, and job performance might not be enough to secure my employment during round two...if there is a round two. There are rumors that we may just close (not the university--just my part of it). And if I lose my job, I truly don't know what I would do. I make 50% of our income, we have hardly any savings due to massive medical bills a few years back, and I carry the insurance for myself and the kids--hubby's job only provided insurance for him.

I am worried. But worrying won't fix it...I'm currently trying to figure a way to train for a new job, so that I can be prepared.

Posted by: Alissa at September 25, 2008 8:06 AM

Yes, living on a fixed income we are feeling it. I do, however, have to look deeper than surface reporting of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac problems and I am shocked at how many politicians have had their hands in those pockets.
One thing I do believe is that we need LESS GOVERNMENT, NOT MORE! All these regulators and government agencies, etc are why we are in this mess.

Posted by: Maribeth at September 25, 2008 8:18 AM

hey mr. cactus.
i've also been a very awful blogger as of late. thinking of starting over somewhere else but not sure. i just wanted to pop in and say hi and that im still reading just struggling with the 'blogging' / commenting gig.

our economy in canada is ok any real bumps seem to be coming from the uh *cough* south.

oh btw. i read the rabbit factory. not bad.

Posted by: Cri at September 25, 2008 8:20 AM

not hit too hard (yet?) here. Energy prices are soaring indeed, but they have been for some years already, so nothing new, plus hey we could have known that would happen. right.

What worries me most about this is the implicit message that is sent to the financial world: 'hey feel free to take risks and screw up with enormous consequences for everyone, we'll have your back and save you." That is guaranteed to cause repetition of this whole thing in the future. Moral hazard in economic terms.

Posted by: mikkie at September 25, 2008 8:40 AM

oh and in line with the commenter above: i picked up a copy of caught stealing based on your recommendation. can't wait to get started

Posted by: mikkie at September 25, 2008 8:42 AM

Isn't it funny that the same thing Carville said in 92 can be the rallying call in '08?
No wait! It's not funny, it's terrifying.
Why do republicans think that the dems are to blame when a Dem fixed the situation from '92 - '00 and now another dem will have to do it again from '08 - '16?
Except now fewer people have health insurance than before, fewer people have nest eggs than before. Things are much more desperate for the middle class than in '92.
rant over.

Posted by: Arwen at September 25, 2008 8:46 AM

I think we are doing what a lot of folks are doing, eating out less, conserving our gas, and in general being more thrifty with our money.

We are not (personally) in any dire situation as of today, we both have good steady jobs, but certainly saving a little here and there is bound to add up.

Oh and I am now the *hair cut* lady at our house, my youngest even thinks I should cut all the little boys hair in the neighborhood. Then they would not have to leave their houses to get a haircut, so they could play more! (his mentality)

Posted by: steff at September 25, 2008 8:49 AM

I have become my grandma, I started budgeting in earnst instead of half assed. I plan meals for the week, eat breakfast at home before I leave, take my lunch to work, and we eat out less. I cancelled my gym membership because I didnt use it enough to justify the expense. I have been walking and riding my bike. I have put off a car purchase until i get my student loan and credit cards paid off. I also am not going to upgrade in house until those too items are done. all these things my grandma would have told me to do. Its time to stop being a child and live within your means. As Dave Ramsey would say, act your wage!!! America needs to do that, and so does congress. It was greedy bankers and stupid poor people who couldnt afford a house in the first place that got us in the crisis. Now you and me get to pay for it.

Posted by: linda at September 25, 2008 8:52 AM

Because of this stupid economy, I have been stuck in my dead-end job for two years longer than I thought I would be. When we moved an hour away, I just believed it would be easy to find another position closer to home. But with all the hiring freezes, and the businesses closing down, I'm better off staying where I have job security. Even if, with the price of gas and the 10 hour a week commute, I'm only making little more than a senior Wal-Mart worker. *BIG SIGH*

Posted by: Tink at September 25, 2008 8:59 AM

The economy scares the crap out of me. I live in Michigan, which is a pretty crappy place to live right now. Add to that that I work in the construction industry...oh boy. It's hard. I got laid off from my last job because new builds were so scarce. That company used to have 50 employees (office and field) and now has 5. My new company was doing great, but took a huge hit last winter. To the point where paychecks were delayed by weeks. I'm a single mom who very rarely gets child support. I don't have anything left in savings due to major improvements that HAD to be done to my house (a new well, new furnance, etc.). So it was scary. Still is. I pray everyday that we keep going, because if I lose this job, I'm screwed. And as I'm sure you are all aware, the housing market here sucks. I bought my house only 2.5 years ago and it is now worth at LEAST $30K less than what I paid. So no hope of a refi or selling. I've started walking to places that are less than a few miles away, my daughter very rarely gets anything special, Christmas and Birthday presents have gotten more tame. I plan out my days so when I leave work I can hit location A, B and C so I don't get home and then drive to those places again. It's hard, and it doesn't help too much, but it's a start. I have no idea what to do to fix it. I just hope WHOEVER gets elected can start to mend our country.

Posted by: js at September 25, 2008 9:01 AM

I was going to post up a blog this morning on all this craziness only to discover that I apparently no longer have one....wordpress seems to have eaten my blog! But that's another story.

Interestingly for us....while we've been struggling the better part of the year because of child support payment foul-ups..we've managed to stay on an even keel..but still living pay period to pay period. The child support foul-up is getting resolved (in the father's favor I might add..which is huge since he's the non-custodial parent!) but anyway things seem to be turning around for us...

Funny side note: we were listening to the radio on the way to work and a commercial came on for Carnival cruises out of Tampa... and I said "we're in a recession facing a depression...let's go on a cruise!" Husband pipes up..."I was thinking the opposite...three days for X amount...we could do that!" HA!

Second side note: firefox apparently hates my blog dashboard....figures!

Posted by: Michelle at September 25, 2008 9:02 AM

Well ok. Sweetie works in the Financial Services industry, AND he is a small business owner, so you bet the Economy is forefront in our house. It's really hard to get away from the issue, considering our own stresses and the stresses his clients are facing on their own and coupled with the current state of the market. It's been rough.

Now with three kids and a house, we're maxed. At this point, we've had to really sit down and prioritize our spending, and we've basically cut out spending on extras. Bills, mortgage and necessary household spending come first, the kids come next, we come last if at all. I'm also trying to drive less, and do more stuff with the kids at home and/or cost free fun alternatives.

I'd love to have Mister in a class of some sort or even get a babysitter to come in for a couple of hours per week so I could more efficiently juggle life, but honestly, it's not in the cards. Every dollar we spend, I'm wondering where it could be better used/saved/allocated for something more necessary.

Plus despite being home with the kids, I'm running two small businesses myself to try and bring in at least a little extra. Basically, we're doing what we can and just plowing through. There's not much we can do to fix the economy at the moment, so we're just working through it.

Posted by: chatty cricket at September 25, 2008 9:47 AM

We've struggled for years and years, financially, as part of the forgotten middle class. We make "too much money" on paper, but not enough to actually live comfortably. We're paycheck to paycheck people. And I guess that's how we'll be till the day we die.

My husband is a teacher, and I am an Administrative Assistant. We break $100K, but we live in Northern New Jersey - one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Our property taxes are astronomical. I don't begrudge our community those dollars, because they are mostly used for our school system, and the day we raise our children and THEN say, I don't have kids in school any more so STOP TAXING ME, is the day we hand over the keys to the country to China. So people, let's stop saying that. Pay your teachers. 'Nuff said.

Anyway...I am feeling it the hardest this year because I have a freshman in college. And guess what happens if you make over $100K and want to send a kid to college in this country. Yeah. Nothing happens. They send you a bill. And wish you luck in paying it.

There is no aid. There are no grants. There are no scholarships unless you raise a genius, or one of you is dead or something. There is nothing available but loans. And since we're paycheck to paycheck people who barely pay our sub-prime adjustable mortgage on time, our credit sucks so loans were hard to find too. Because no one is lending anyone anything.

We scraped enough to send her to college. But people, it shouldn't be this hard to send your kid to college in America. It can't be, if we want to have a generation of productive, thinking individuals who have something to offer this country in the form of leadership and innovation. In the words of Aaron Sorkin, "We have serious problems in America and we need serious people to fix them." So let's make it easier to send our kids to college. And pay our public school teachers. Because that's all it's about folks. The NEXT generation. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Posted by: Candy at September 25, 2008 9:52 AM

So far, the economy crisis has not affected us. I stopped working last November, and things are still going well. I'm not planning to return to the work force.

But I worry for our kids. They're all doing well, but when layoffs hit, sometimes irreparable things happen.

Do you know who you're going to vote for? Lots of people do, but I'm not one of them. I'm still listening. However much that helps, I don't really know.

Posted by: cassie-b at September 25, 2008 9:59 AM

Luckily, it has not affected us yet. We're still investing money at the same rate with confidence that the market will correct, as it has done for 100 years. Buy low, sell high. Not the other way around.

How would I fix it? Strong, strict regulations on credit and lending in this country. Now. Across the board. From Lehman Brothers huge lenders, to MasterCard. Poorly managed credit is ruining everything. Credit goes against human nature, and therefore should have strict guidelines. Unfortunately, I do think a bail-out is necessary, but not with a blank check. Set a hard number, stick to it, and have a plan in place to pay it off.

Posted by: Brad at September 25, 2008 10:03 AM

Due to a series of really terrible events, we are more paycheck to paycheck than ever. I support both of us on what I make. We "splurge" on internet access and cable because it keeps us sane (esp. when you have someone who is confined to the home, this is important) but otherwise, we don't buy anything but groceries and even that is becoming more and more difficult. We don't live extravagantly. Neither of us buy new clothes or crazy stuff we don't need. And yet...we struggle. Every month.

I don't know how this situation can be fixed. (This situation = economy, not my own personal situation.) My expertise in economics is non-existent. But if things don't improve soon, I'm afraid of where we'll end up, as a country.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at September 25, 2008 10:07 AM

Denial. It's where I'm living. I need to look at our budget - I need to follow it.

Posted by: Cass at September 25, 2008 10:07 AM

My job is safe, but my husband, who is a carpenter, may be living on borrowed time. He mostly does high-end remodels and if this continues, I think we will see his work slow to a trickle as people stop investing in their houses. We've actually talked about it and we are just gonna keep doing what we're doing. Paying down our debt to reduce our expenses as much as possible, keep tightening up the budget, and save when we can. If it gets to the point where there is little to no work for him, then we'll pull the baby out of daycare and we should be able to get by on my salary.

We hope.

And we know we are the lucky ones. Scary times.

Posted by: Alias Mother at September 25, 2008 10:23 AM

In NE Ohio things are starting to go sour; I'm young 30's with 3 kids, and lots of friends in the same range, and everyone is living paycheck to paycheck and losing ground. The economy in Ohio has always been rough, so from that standpoint it looks a lot like the same, but you get the feeling that there is a big wave of closings and layoffs coming. The problem is that everyone is spent out; if consumer spending is the fuel that drives the economy, we are in big trouble because in effect, everyone is out of gas ( ironically, mostly to pay for gas ).

I've job hopped recently to a higher paycheck, but found that when I factor in gas and actually buying healthy food ( it was getting pretty scary there, and you can only feed your kids processed foods for so long before you snap ), we're right back to being strapped. The really telling sign for me is that the most well to do of our friends ( you know the one in the group, over achiever who made all the right moves and had the cash ) has cut back to the bone, and if he is hurting, then it is bad tidings for the rest of us!

To fix it, I'm no economist, but it seems that this whole Federal Reserve system is a big scam. Basically, it is like the whole country is going to a check loan store; we'll give you a dollar now, but you'll have to pay us a dollar and 10 cents back later. That $700 billion is coming out of somebodies piggy bank; it is a loan, and so we are borrowing to buy junk that has no value. It's like owing money on your rent, then going to a check loan store, borrowing the money to pay the rent, and spending it worthless crap. You still owe the rent, now you owe back the loan, and you have nothing to show for it and nothing of value to trade.

Posted by: metawizard at September 25, 2008 10:37 AM

I work a job w/o benefits, good title though. count on hubs to carry the burden with perks, his co thought his CTO position could be done be a new grad and fired him after 8 years, lost health and paycheck, takes 8-10 weeks for unemployment which pays 1/4 of salary, oh yeah no bennies either. SOOOOOO looking for job, out of area, means selling of the house, moving the kid from school etc. Don't mind the change, but add on the suck housing market and going through funds to carry over to the NEW job can be found leaves almost nothing to get us to the next step. What do we want the Gov to do? Pay attention, this could have been averted with diligence, instead of the extra curricular of the WAR and all. Does no one else see the down fall of the WTC and Pentagon attacks as the utimate terrorism - divert a shallow minded pres from home to the artifical glory of being a war-president? All under his watch and we are bystanders in a country where this is not supposed to happen. Thanks Chris, just needed to vent.

Posted by: Pretzel at September 25, 2008 10:37 AM

I now ride my bike to work instead of driving (good for the environment too!). I took on credit card debt for the first time in my life after workers' comp turned out to be crap after a back injury at work. I thank God everyday I work for the state. I call for Senator Obama. Yep. Scared.

Posted by: Heather at September 25, 2008 10:57 AM

And now the very administration who got us into this mess expects a blank check with no oversight?

We may have to shore up the banks, etc. but we don't have to be idiots about it.

I wrote to both Senators and my Congressman yesterday and reminded them about the Patriot Act (which most of them hadn't read) and the authorization for Iraq (which was based on lies). They went along blindly - hope this time they have better sense.

I said "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice (or more), shame on me.

Part of me says they deserve exactly what they get but, from what I can understand, the bank/mortgage companies/stock brokers/insurance companies are the tip of the iceberg. If they fail, so do we all.

So far, the economy hasn't affected us directly since we were already retired on fixed income. The income probably won't change and we're getting by. There are still a couple of things we could cut back on (this computer, the cable, and my weekly coffee date for example). However, the domino effect will eventually affect us all.

Posted by: Ann Adams at September 25, 2008 11:35 AM

I just wrote about this - albeit in a hot, weepy, pregnancy-induced hormonal mess - on my blog.

I read somewhere (Yahoo, maybe) recently that "if we don't get this bailout, we'll definitely be in a recession." I have news for those Very Blind politicians ... we already ARE in a recession. We have been for awhile. It makes me want to bang my head on my desk in frustration.

My mother has been "out of work" (ok, well, she's working in retail now, but it sure as shit isn't what she WAS doing) since Jan of this year. I'm TERRIFIED of this economy and living paycheck to paycheck. I want a do-over.

Posted by: moo at September 25, 2008 11:49 AM

As a former homebuilding exec I had front row seats to this whole mess. I used to marvel at how people who just defaulted on all their credit cards and had their cars repo'd could still qualify for a home loan. It was a pretty good company (the CEO refused his 9 million dollar bonus because the company made no money while his peers cashed in). Even so, the market I worked in was shrinking rapidly and layoffs were occurring on a bi-weekly pace. I was a loyal associate that made the company some big bucks that earned me a high salary. Ironically this also made me a huge target for a layoff, so I resigned and returned to Houston where the economy is pretty solid.

With little trouble I landed a job, albeit lower pay, but a job nonetheless. Because it was an international homebuilder, what was happening on Wall Street and the American housing market had minimal effect because the revenues it created internationally translated into stability for the company, and for my position. Or so I thought.

Not 60 days later they laid me off along with 20 other people. And talk about your Schadenfreudette moments, my fiancee (now my wife) called to tell me she got let from her job at an oil and gas company the same day!

Since then, we've got rid of both our cars for a fuel efficient mini-van (mini-van cries desperate by itself), moved to a new apt (in the middle of a hurricane no less) with lower rent and utilities, combined cell phone plans, as well as cutting back on all manner of variable expenses. It resulted in huge savings, but still not enough for us to make ends meet.

I've been working on a job hunt for nearly 7 months. They say it takes longer for execs, but this feels different when you can't even get a phone call or returned email. I remember not that long ago when headhunters called at least once a week trying to whisk me away off somewhere. Not so anymore. Now my unemployment has run out.

My wife, however, landed a great job working for Matt Simmons (read about him in the upcoming issue of Forbes) which helps of course, but she works on the forefront of the oil industry making us very informed on the energy situation. I'm telling you, and everyone - watch what happens to oil and which candidate has the most solid plan for dealing with our energy dependency. That will be a key element to our recovery.

And forget the housing sector. It's not going to happen anytime soon. Some markets are okay like in Texas, and sure the demographics support a steady need for housing demand, but with a nearly two year supply of new construction, existing homes and foreclosures the math is fairly easy to do. That's assuming lenders hunkered down in their bunkers ease up. The fact their back ends are so tight, if you added a little carbon they could crap diamonds right now.

On a macro scale, watching Bill Clinton on The Daily Show and reading his interview on CBS this morning, I was impressed. I'm a veteran, and I like McCain, but I think Bill's right in his comments concerning who will best lead the country out of our current situation. And the bail out? I'm undecided, it depends on how it's structured. In any case, nothing is going to get better anytime soon and I think we all have to be realistic in our expectation and be prepared in the interim.

That being said, I'm not sitting around having any pity parties for myself. Many good things have come out these circumstances. One, I got married, and because I ended up at home allot, I spent most of my time getting to build a relationship with my new step daughters. I also started a blog, which not only improved my writing skills (my lifelong dream has always been to be a writer), but it also afforded me the opportunity to meet many great people and bloggers via the net. Most importantly, it made me a more aware parent of the issues concerning my step-daughters and my 3 boys from my previous marriage.

I'd still like to have a job, and it doesn't need to be as high paid as the ones I once had, but until then, I guess it's what you make of it. It always could be worse.

Posted by: CK Lunchbox at September 25, 2008 11:53 AM

We're pretty lucky, I guess. We don't own a car, so no gas worries, we're not in any debt, and my husband's job is pretty recession-proof. If anything, they'll be expanding his department for the next 5 years or so--he's kind of in a hot field--and major universities don't merge. I worry about my baby daughter's college fund, though. It was small, but it's gotten 30% smaller since January.

Posted by: Laura at September 25, 2008 11:58 AM

You're the last person I'd expect to intentionally insult me, it never crossed my mind that you were trying.

I am doing my best to make sure we eat at home instead of out at restaurants, as seems to be the NYC norm. Also trying to keep anything needing electricity off when it needs to be off. And not driving the car anywhere I could possibly walk to or take the subway to. But... not doing the bus thing, sigh.

Unfortunately, in my attempt to save money, I parked too close to a fire hydrant yesterday after a trip to run multiple errands, and there goes $115 down the drain.

Posted by: Poppy at September 25, 2008 12:09 PM

My husband and son are both taking lunches with them to school and work each day, we've created a budget and only allow ourselves to spend that much at that time and if we can't get something ... we do without it. I used to go to the grocery store and think wow that basket of food cost me $100+ ... now I look at the five bags I have and think - how the heck can THAT be $100?

We have all but stopped going out for dinner (we used to go about once a week). We aren't buying new school clothes until the weather truly changes here in LA which will probably be late October.

Add on top of the economy the fact that our 13 yr old is getting ready to start playing on the Jr SPGA golf tour as well as being on a travel basketball team ... and you see we're forced to cut back or he'll have to do without.

Posted by: Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer at September 25, 2008 12:09 PM

How I would fix the situation: I'm a radical in my beliefs about money. I think money is stupid and should be banned. I think we should all live like starship enterprisers and just magically work in harmony to help ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Never gonna happen. We are too greedy as a species.

Posted by: Poppy at September 25, 2008 12:11 PM

Back in July when we were in the USA traveling there were signs that people were feeling it. Some towns had so many closed businesses, empty hotels and attractions that it was sad. We became very aware that our tourist dollars were badly needed.

I'm not naive enough to think that Canada will get away scot free, but I do think that our jobs will be fine. Back when our government slashed programs, we went through the whole Hubs getting laid off/going back to school/selling the house thing and it wasn't fun at all.

I really, really can empathize with people who are now in that position. It sucks.

Posted by: Scatteredmom at September 25, 2008 12:35 PM

Ironically enough, right now may be the best time ever to be a single graduate student living off of a research grant stipend. Research grant stipends can only run out of money, they can't be yanked. This means that you're relatively secure for the duration of your program of research (~5 years). Even that kind of job security seems rare these days.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at September 25, 2008 12:54 PM

Both the state (Washington) and national economy has pretty much put our family business into the trash. My parents have two tow companies in Seattle and with the price of fuel, people are driving less or just figuring out how to do things if something happens cheaper than calling for a tow truck. Basically, we are waiting to see what happens in Novemeber, what else can we do?

Posted by: Dianna at September 25, 2008 2:02 PM

Truly, I have yet to be personally affected. Though my family and friends have been.

I've cut out a ton of luxuries. I've reduced spending. I drive less. We eat in more. I'm watching the sale adds, clipping coupons for things I use, and cooking simpler, less expensive meals. I am already doing Christmas shopping and I'm doing it online at Ebay and at thrift stores. I'm considering moving to the other side of town, cutting my commute from 44 miles a day to 5 miles a day. The air conditioning gets turned up to 95 when I leave for work, and is only set to 82 while we are home. Showers are shorter.

How do we fix it? I know other countries are in a bad place, too, but we need to stop foreign aid. We need to pull out of Iraq ASAP. I have more ideas . . . but I have to get back to work. So I can keep my job.

Posted by: Mindy at September 25, 2008 2:37 PM

First I'd like to say, you have some very intelligent, well informed posters out there and I learn from just reading their replies!
As for me--My husband's remodel business has taken a HUGE hit this year and unfortunately, he can sometimes be an ostrich and no matter how much I say "money's getting tight" he just doesn't get it. We FINALLY let go one employee and cut the other's hourly wage. Hopefully, that will ease some of the pinching. I've always been a total penny pincher so both vehicles are paid off, I paid 1 semester of college for our son and have another 2 semesters available. After that it will be loans. As a previous poster said, there's NO money for us to pay for our kids to go to college unless they're a brainiac (and my kid ain't!). Besides working for my husband I also took a parttime job as a lunch aide at and elementary school in town - I ride my scooter and will continue until it starts to snow. I'm just saving that money like a little squirrel.
It's going to get worse for us and we're just getting our ducks in a row and waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

Posted by: NancyJak at September 25, 2008 2:51 PM

We started the downward spiral a couple of years ago, and when I got pregnant, we realized that we literally could not afford to send him to day care. What this meant was that we had to change our lives to be able to live on my income alone, which involved giving up our house, our lives in Colorado, and moving to the South where it is much cheaper to live. Sadly, I don't really want to raise my child here (and I'm from the South!), but until he is school age, we can't even think about going back. We don't eat out anymore, don't take long car trips, but I don't mind that so much. I miss owning a home, though.

Posted by: Foxy at September 25, 2008 3:05 PM

I know this is naive and I'm not going to pretend I'm not. But I know nothing about money or financial things. I don't make enough money to care. I do know that I don't own a damn thing but my car and some furniture and my dreams of having a house someday are pretty much null and void. But so far? Aside from twinges of jealousy, I'm vaguely happy and I try to ignore my 401K. If I start messing with it, I'll freak out and that is NOT necessary. I'm a steady as you go kind of gal.

Posted by: k8 at September 25, 2008 3:24 PM

A lot of people may hate me for it, being in oil and gas, I am not feeling the crunch much. Sure, my investments are suffering and I am paying more for gas and grocheries like everyone else - but being someone who's always lived below my means and not depended on credit, I have a pretty solid foundation.

This "crisis" has been coming for a long time, and I'm glad that I prepared to the extent I could. I have no idea what kind of butterfly effects we may see, but it is unsettling.

Posted by: Sabine at September 25, 2008 4:18 PM

I work in entertainment. And entirely disposable industry, its freaking us both out, since we're both in the same industry. We cut back on groceries, and going out to eat, and we're doing fine and living comfortably, and no one is going hungry.

But we can't help but wonder, where we'll be this time next year, if Broadway doesn't do anything new, if producers back out, if shows close.

Posted by: Dani at September 25, 2008 4:23 PM

Really, I have no clue how to fix it, but I want to address one specific thing in your post "You all come by and visit and I rarely return the favor these days.....And yet you keep visiting despite my lack of reciprocation and for that I'm grateful." Holy cow you are so responsive its not even funny! I'm just a commenter/lurker on blogs (don't have one of my own) but you are probably the only one who responds to almost every comment. WOW. I was seriously shocked when I saw a response from you. So, don't knock yourself. rock and we dont (or at least I don't) expect you to comment back anytime I say anything. :o)

Posted by: Leticia at September 25, 2008 4:50 PM

I just wrote a post on this too. I have to say that living within our means is the best thing we can do as Americans and put your cash somewhere safe. I'm not so sure about this billions of $$ buy out for the big companies. What would happen if they split that money among all of us? Gave us all an equal share of that money and let us dig ourselves out of debt, pay late mortgages, get by until the new job is found. I haven't really thought about the ramifications of this yet as I type, but it sounds good. Someone will point out why this won't work, but it sounds good in my head. :)

Posted by: Kristin at September 25, 2008 5:49 PM

The economy really freaks me out, but I also think that we've sort of been here before... and it will get better. We haven't done much to save money--we live pretty cheaply for the most part, but between both of us working full-time with no house payment and no kids... things aren't as tight as they are for some people, we just aren't putting as much away as we normally would.

As to what to do about it... I don't know. There is rationale behind every possible decision and I don't flatter myself to know better than anyone else what would best fix this. I morally disagree with the bailout--I mean, how anti-capitalist can you get???--but seeing as how these banks seem to have such an impact on our economy, and our economy failing would be a very bad thing, I can see why a bailout is taking place. As for whether it's the right thing to do--economists and historians will be debating it for the rest of recorded history.

Posted by: Angela at September 25, 2008 6:33 PM

I was in a really good position. Both the boyfriend and I had good paying jobs we didn't hate. Had a two bedroom apartment all to ourselves. Then there were layoffs at the bank my boyfriend worked at. He looked for a job for 5 months before we accepted help from his mom to move from CA to WA, where the unemployment rate isn't great, but it's a hell of a lot better. But now the two of us are looking for work and it hard. And depressing. And I can't believe how much groceries cost. Maybe it's just because I don't have an income...

Posted by: ari at September 25, 2008 7:08 PM

This economy has helped my business a little because I am a psychiatrist. Things usually quiet down in the summer, and we never got a break.

Posted by: Bisous at September 25, 2008 8:04 PM

We are seriously struggling financially at my house. Partially because of the economy and partially because "that's just life". If things get any worse, like ANY at. all. I won't be able to keep the house. Gas and groceries keep rising but the paychecks don't. It's scary as hell. I'm terrified that there isn't anyone in office right now to keep us (and by us I mean those real people with real jobs you mentioned) from having this bailout plan millstone hung around our necks. It's wrong! And the scariest thing? The only thing I've heard in the last 48 hours that didn't make me want to weep was what Bill Clinton said on The Daily Show about it. And that in itself . . . makes me want to weep. When reassurances only come out of ex-presidents guest appearing on Comedy Central. I mean really, isn't that a sign of the apocolypse? But don't let me say apocolypse out loud. Don't want to cause a panic. Doesn't that just piss you off while they're telling us all not to panic? When the only reason right now that I can think of not to, would be to enable them to squeeze just a little bit more out of us? I want to see some executive types paying for their mistakes, not expecting us to do it for them. If I fucked my job that badly, I'd be fired with not even the hope of unemployment. I think it's time for some reality based consequences for our self appointed ruling class. How about we put some of the people who have been making the pitiful education budget dollars stretch as far as they can in charge? At least we could have the hope that some part of the wealth they were siphoning out of the economy might somehow wind up in our classrooms. Right now I'd rather have seven bake sale mom's managing my retirement than anyone else I've heard pretending to be an expert in the last few days.

Posted by: OS at September 25, 2008 10:37 PM

It's freaking people out here in Canada, too, Chris!

And, I hear you on not being able to reciprocate.... Lack of sleep, 2 kids ALL DAY, etc., etc.... It's so hard to keep up with everything!

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