The economy?

jmminarik's picture

Although we've talked around it a lot, we've actually not talked directly about the economy and how it's impacting us individually all that much. For those willing to divulge, how is the current state of the economy impacting you?

For us, we've not had too much of a change of lifestyle. That mostly because we already save every paycheck, don't eat out much or buy much other than necessities, and have affordable fixed expenses. We live below our means, and we both have jobs that are relatively secure. For me personally, GE trading at $13 is an opportunity to buy more, not a panic event. And the current 'crisis' in the auto industry is giving us good reason to evaluate trading in the car for a new vehicle. We're also likely to start redoing our kitchen once we save up a little bit more.

codergrrl's picture

My stocks have lost value,

My stocks have lost value, my 403b has lost value, and the grocery bill is getting higher, but my job is secure.
It has had more effect on other family members, who might not have the resources I do.
But of course, that means it effects me secondarily. (More handouts to help them along during rough patches). I'm just glad I have it to help.

dan's picture

As one of those blessed with

As one of those blessed with a steady, albeit moderate, income - we're actually doing a little better day-to-day. The decrease in gas prices, and some lowering of prices in other sectors of the economy, stretches our dollars.

Unfortunately, as someone who has been conscientious from day one to set aside money for retirement, I lost a LOT in retirement savings. That hurt enough that I'm purchasing a term life insurance policy to help Judy out in case anything happens to me.

AM's picture

I'm lucky to still be

I'm lucky to still be employed both at my full time job and my part time job. My 401K got hit - hard. I just bought a house and had to use a good chunk of what was left of my 401K for the downpayment. At this point I don't think I'll ever be able to really retire. I'm not expecting things to ease up until at least two more of my kids are out of catholic high school. Still, things could be a lot worse. It was a good time to buy a house - at least for me. I got a decent rate and bought a fixer upper. Food prices are getting totally out of hand. I just hope I'm able to stay employed at both places since businesses are getting hit so hard.

athrahans's picture

My retirement funds have

My retirement funds have been hit HARD and I may lose my job by the end of the year. My spouse may not lose his job, but may get a pay cut. Needless to say, things are unstable for us. :(

Larry99's picture

Overall, we're doing ok. My

Overall, we're doing ok.

My job is pretty much recession proof but my wife's is not. Her firm (architechture) is hurting. Fortunately she has some seniority and is still on the payroll but watching colleagues get the pink slip over the last few months has been a wake up call.

Lost a ton (on paper) in '08 in our mutual funds and 401k. Fortunately I don't plan on doing anything with them for another 15-20 yrs and I'm confident they'll rebound.

Now is obviously a great time to invest in the market. This year I'm going to feel a little guily about blowing my tax refund but we really enjoy eating out and traveling, both of which we haven't done much of lately. This year there's also some house remodeling, maybe some new furniture... I could probably save or invest more but I feel we're at a nice balance between saving and spending. As they say, you can't take it with ya.

th's picture

I have been contracting for

I have been contracting for several years. So when layoffs come around I am usually safe. It seems counter-intuitive, but I guess I am on a different spread sheet than the one the corporate bigwig is looking at when they start slashing. And they have been slashing. When I started there were 2 floors of people. 2 months ago they had laid enough people off to consolidate to 1 floor. Now this floor is less than half full. From what I can tell, my position is relatively secure, but who know. It's very quiet and depressing here with a floor full of empty cubicles.

nhb's picture

I am contracted employee, my

I am contracted employee, my job is a little safer, but not much. I will have to wait & see. My retirement got hit alittle hard, but i am not retiring any time soon and my husbands retirement held up better than mine. In general we are fine, but food prices going up & packaging getting smaller is hurting us. Our tax return we are putting a little away and spending a little. As for family vacation, we will have to wait & see what happens with my job.

Kat's picture

We have really have had to

We have really have had to tighten the purse strings. Nunzio is the money guy. He tells me what I can spend each week and I only spend what he gives me. I plan our meals around what coupons I have and what is currently on sale at the market then shop for what we need. I cook all day Sunday usually for the week and freeze the meals so that we are not tempted to order out (it doesn't always work though). He is a great money manager which I am thankful for because I am terrible with money. We both have good jobs, but there is so much bad happening at my job in the magazine industry that I could possibly be out of a job in the next few weeks/months if everything keeps spiralling out of control. That would be bad. Really, really bad for us. We can only hope that things turn around. Everyone - go out and buy Consumer Reports, Shop Smart, Nickelodeon, Foreign Affairs and American Iron at your nearest Barnes and Noble! Mama needs to feed her kids! ;)

th's picture

While we're on the subject,

While we're on the subject, maybe I should stop screwing around on fishtown.us and do some work before somebody notices. Not that there is anyone within 3 cubicles of me.

rtsaidred's picture

I'm doing pretty well. I

I'm doing pretty well. I live beneath my means. My job is secure (but I know that if the economy continues to tank, that could change). It's a really good time to buy more and that's what I'm doing. I've increased my percentage contribution to my 401(k) and also opened a new individual account. (That's what Warren Buffet has been doing. Who am I to argue with him? Buy American. I Am

That said, it doesn't mean I'm not nervous about the state of the economy. I am worried but try not to worry about it too much. Working for a conversative financial services company actually helps calm my nerves. We are a very "stay the course" company.

Ftown66's picture

Kat wrote:We have really

Kat wrote:

We have really have had to tighten the purse strings. Nunzio is the money guy. He tells me what I can spend each week and I only spend what he gives me. I plan our meals around what coupons I have and what is currently on sale at the market then shop for what we need. I cook all day Sunday usually for the week and freeze the meals so that we are not tempted to order out (it doesn't always work though). He is a great money manager which I am thankful for because I am terrible with money. We both have good jobs, but there is so much bad happening at my job in the magazine industry that I could possibly be out of a job in the next few weeks/months if everything keeps spiralling out of control. That would be bad. Really, really bad for us. We can only hope that things turn around. Everyone - go out and buy Consumer Reports, Shop Smart, Nickelodeon, Foreign Affairs and American Iron at your nearest Barnes and Noble! Mama needs to feed her kids! ;)

I am a big magazine reader. I probably would buy ten to fifteen mag's every week or two but the prices have gotten ridiculous on many of them so i have cut back to the ones I trully like. I'm sorry none of yours are on my list.

Kat's picture

Ftown66 wrote:Kat wrote:We

Ftown66 wrote:
Kat wrote:

We have really have had to tighten the purse strings. Nunzio is the money guy. He tells me what I can spend each week and I only spend what he gives me. I plan our meals around what coupons I have and what is currently on sale at the market then shop for what we need. I cook all day Sunday usually for the week and freeze the meals so that we are not tempted to order out (it doesn't always work though). He is a great money manager which I am thankful for because I am terrible with money. We both have good jobs, but there is so much bad happening at my job in the magazine industry that I could possibly be out of a job in the next few weeks/months if everything keeps spiralling out of control. That would be bad. Really, really bad for us. We can only hope that things turn around. Everyone - go out and buy Consumer Reports, Shop Smart, Nickelodeon, Foreign Affairs and American Iron at your nearest Barnes and Noble! Mama needs to feed her kids! ;)

I am a big magazine reader. I probably would buy ten to fifteen mag's every week or two but the prices have gotten ridiculous on many of them so i have cut back to the ones I trully like. I'm sorry none of yours are on my list.

They are so expensive Ftown, you're right. And alot of the content you can get on line which eats into sales. The publishers increase cover price because they are being charged more for paper, printing and shipping, then the wholesalers are struggling to make more money to deliver the product (gas prices etc), and the retailers are cutting back on how much product they want because of the green initiatives (which is not so bad! Lots of my publishers print on recycled paper but it is still an incredibly wasteful industry). It is a catch 22 and the magazine distributions companies are right in the middle (where I am). I have seen a number of really good magazines that I have launched go under soley due to the economy. It's sad. Some of these little publishers put their lives into their product and it just goes away...

tudor's picture

I work for a small firm in

I work for a small firm in the financial industry, so we scramble a lot. Results seem to be pretty directly related to how much sweat you put into them so far. I have been out of stocks pretty much since early last fall and have not regretted it. The guy at my firm who manages our retirement funds only lost 15% of them last year, so we are keeping him. My house has not lost value because I'm not selling it. I'm trying to walk the line between spending money and staying out of debt.

netable's picture

sigh, I've always managed to

sigh, I've always managed to live paycheck to paycheck' I've always robbed Paul to pay Peter, always lived out of my Means, although I work for every cent I have,

I get depressed and frantic and panicky whenever I think about the Big picture' so I try to have a "out of sight Out of mind" way of life' which isn't good' but its what I have, and I feel like a Big Towering "Jenga" ready to topple over. 18 years of being a Single Guardian to 3 kids, and doing the things that I've been able to do without too much grief, just expecting my "Jenga" life to Implode into tiny nonrepairable pieces' however I keep working my bum off and fixing everything with "duct tape" =) I might have to get another Job soon =( but its my own fault' I should have pinched and pinched and instead of going on vacation use the fireplug j/k

fishtownfreak's picture

Im laid off from my job in

Im laid off from my job in the construction field and have been since late Nov. Its really bad right now for the Union trades and hopefully things turn around with Obamas work package.

teener's picture

It was really scary when I

It was really scary when I was laid off early Dec. I haven't really stopped being nervous, because the new job is very challenging and I am lowest on the totum pole. Anyway, I handle our finances and I am happy to say we live below our means. Sadly we are not saving very much but we do stay out of dept and support the economy buying crap we don't need. Temple may not always be as secure for my husband as it has been but he feels pretty secure right now. I guess we will probably stop spending so much and start saving more, but I need to work harder on that. Camping is my vacation style and it saves us a ton of money too since we can take all the dogs with us!

rtsaidred's picture

Didn't give a complete

Didn't give a complete picture. While I'm doing okay in this economy, I have really hunkered down with my spending. Have never been a crazy spender, but I am only buying the necessities now and am being very selective with those purchases.

th's picture

netable wrote: 18 years of

netable wrote:

18 years of being a Single Guardian to 3 kids, and doing the things that I've been able to do without too much grief, just expecting my "Jenga" life to Implode into tiny nonrepairable pieces' however I keep working my bum off and fixing everything with "duct tape" =)

God bless you.

Nunzio's picture

We're getting by, but we're

We're getting by, but we're cutting back significantly. I think the best thing for us is to take the next couple years off as far as acquiring new debt, making major purchases, or doing any significant work on the house. Unless we win the lottery, there won't be any trips to Aruba.

We invested a significant sum of money in the house, so now it's at a point where a few cans of paint and a couple pieces of trim would be all that's required to make an impact, except for the kitchen. The thing holding us back is having the time to do it. We're too busy working and raising kids.

What's interesting (and this is anecdotal, but I think it's revealing) is that we have a lot less trash to put out during the week. In our heyday, we'd have 3 large trash cans and a couple bags on the side every week. Every other week, we'd also have three big blue recycling bins just for the glass, plastic, and metal. The paper was another pile.

Since we've started cutting our expenses, the amount of trash we generate is way down. When I put it out this morning, I had one large trash can, one large blue recycling bin, and a couple boxes.

So, I think this crappy economy is teaching us some important lessons about over-consumption. Plus, it's giving us a good opportunity to teach our kids about the importance of conserving.

PattiMey's picture

I made my last mortgage

I made my last mortgage payment back in October. If I still had to pay this I guess I would be seeking a second job once again. Right now I am very careful of what I purchase. I am forever comparing prices and putting things back on the shelf. I drive less and eat less junk food. The house is a little cooler than I like but this gives me a reason to wear all the sweaters and socks I have gotten for gifts in the past years. All small sacrifices compared to some of the seniors I work with who are on minimal fixed incomes.

biggeo's picture

all i know is that between

all i know is that between house bills , food ,and the general necessities of life my pay check sometimes doesn't cover it all and from the looks of things its only gonna get worse

jmminarik's picture

Nunzio wrote: What's

Nunzio wrote:

What's interesting (and this is anecdotal, but I think it's revealing) is that we have a lot less trash to put out during the week.

We still 'average' a big bag a week, but with weekly recycling we don't have to store as much. One big blue bin for cans/bottles, one lawn type paper bag for paper.

Reading many other posts, it seems we're living high on the hog. I figured many of us would be cutting back if for no other reason than as a defensive measure. As I said before though, we're lucky with a low mortgage payment, no kids of our own to support and the ones we interact with get more time than cost us money, we fill the tank on the car once a month unless we are visiting lots of friends (which we don't do in the winter as much), and though we have the usual assortment of junk in the house that we don't need, we also don't buy much junk, least for ourselves. But both my parents grew up in the depression, and made their impact on me.

Well, I suppose I did make one 'major' change. I drink the corporate swill they call coffee instead of buying it most days. But even before I'd buy at WaWa across from the office and not the swanky coffee joint in the basement. $1.60 or so for one 24 oz vs $2+ for a 16 oz "large" at the swanky place just didn't make sense to me. And now WaWa has the 'buy a breakfast sandwich, get a free coffee deal' going. Lunch during the day is usually a can of low sodium soup with frozen vegetables added or left overs from dinner the night before.

teener's picture

I too should add that while

I too should add that while I spend spend spend, I do it thrifty style. I bring my lunch to work most days and I frequent Target. I'm always after a bargain. I am ready to stop spending it on frivolous things though- I really want to buy some stocks while I can afford them. We are also lucky that we bought a house that we could easily afford while paying it off in 15 years, so we do have a safety net (if one of us lost a job) so we could refinance and not have to pay as much per month.

dan's picture

PattiMey wrote:I made my

PattiMey wrote:

I made my last mortgage payment back in October.

Congratulations!

karen's picture

i was lucky enough to get a

i was lucky enough to get a mortgage back in 2003 with some grant help and a half point discount on the interest rate. having a roommate right now helps tremendously... i have stopped paying extra so that i can slowly build at least 3-6 months salary-equivalent savings in case something should happen to my job.

i make a living in a strange juxtaposition of the times: i work for an energy conservation company (which should prosper under the new administration's energy goals), however my job is mainly serving retail customers which have very few capital projects slated for this year. I will keep my fingers crossed...

as for spending - i mostly read, watch hulu/netflix, or go to the gym. i still go out, but it's been happy hours instead of late nights. i don't have cable - the only reason i even have a tv is because my mom said i needed one for when she visits.

i did take a vacation this month. california was 65 and sunny, philadelphia was 10 and dark. we got round trip airfare plus a car for 6 days for only $269/person. we stayed with a friend, so all in all, it was very cheap and worth it.

while i don't regret it, i know full well that it's time to hibernate again til spring.

dclxvi's picture

I'm in a job where I have 10

I'm in a job where I have 10 years in and there's very little chance that I could lose my job due to the economic times - let's just say I work for the biggest employer in this city... THE CITY... right now they're trying to cut all OT out of my dept (which would be very hard considering what we do for the city).

Either way I make a nice sum of money each year, a little bit more than I did the year before. I am a "single" father... they technically live with their mom, but they spend the majority of their time with me - but when things originally went down she was designated the Primary Caretaker and I got the crap-end of the stick. My ex-wife also works for the city and also collects 50% more income from me... that adds up - especially when i'm taking on all of the primary caretaker responsibilities

that's the biggest hit I take, and if she wasn't taken that much of a chunk out of my income i'd be cruising pretty sweetly.

i have a roommate and he puts some cash in my hand, but not much to stay afloat. I've cut out a lot of extra spending, trying to eat out less and cooking dinner for the kids & the lovely girlfriend as much as possible. trying to cut back on utility usage by turning things off/down.

sold a beloved classic car for less than I would have liked so I could get rid of some debt - plus it knocks my insurance bill down a bit. My credit score is still good but things could get rocky. i'm hoping my tax return is equivalent to what it was last year and that should see me through a lot of bills and definitely help in the long run.

netable's picture

dclxvi wrote:I'm in a job

dclxvi wrote:

I'm in a job where I have 10 years in and there's very little chance that I could lose my job due to the economic times - let's just say I work for the biggest employer in this city... THE CITY... right now they're trying to cut all OT out of my dept (which would be very hard considering what we do for the city).

Either way I make a nice sum of money each year, a little bit more than I did the year before. I am a "single" father... they technically live with their mom, but they spend the majority of their time with me - but when things originally went down she was designated the Primary Caretaker and I got the crap-end of the stick. My ex-wife also works for the city and also collects 50% more income from me... that adds up - especially when i'm taking on all of the primary caretaker responsibilities

that's the biggest hit I take, and if she wasn't taken that much of a chunk out of my income i'd be cruising pretty sweetly.

i have a roommate and he puts some cash in my hand, but not much to stay afloat. I've cut out a lot of extra spending, trying to eat out less and cooking dinner for the kids & the lovely girlfriend as much as possible. trying to cut back on utility usage by turning things off/down.

sold a beloved classic car for less than I would have liked so I could get rid of some debt - plus it knocks my insurance bill down a bit. My credit score is still good but things could get rocky. i'm hoping my tax return is equivalent to what it was last year and that should see me through a lot of bills and definitely help in the long run.

Ok, 1st Kudos to you for being a DAD' 2nd, you can always go back to court and have things changed, I know how frustrating the system is, but a Mom and Dad our both equally responsible for their children' I know plenty of Dads' who do get treated terribly through the courts with Child Care' and who actually spend more time with the kids and are the Soul Caretaker'

Alot of guys I know dont want to go back to court because they are afraid that it may cease their time with their kids and make things worse' and yes it has happened because the system sucks' but if you keep a log book' a book of everytime you have the kids' every cent you spend etc' it will be evidence to show the court that in all actuality YOU are the primary caretaker' I truly believe that the Dads' that step up and own up to their responsibility pay for all the deadbeat dads mistakes' and it isnt fair'

I also see plenty of Women, who receive child support' and get their hair and nails done' and their kids walk around looking like ragamuffs'

The good Guys' and Girls' always suffer' because they are afraid that the system will screw them, which 99% of the time it does,

I also hope you know' because you pay child support' that you could actually claim them on your Taxes? I hope you are,

jbette01's picture

karen wrote: i have stopped

karen wrote:

i have stopped paying extra so that i can slowly build at least 3-6 months salary-equivalent savings in case something should happen to my job.

I work with a great financial planner, and I am so thankful he talked me into this. I'll admit it takes a long time as I am still taking advantage of my employer match on my 401k, but it has made me feel much better knowing I have something liquid in case my job vanishes. If you are married or cohabitating, be thankful for two incomes!

karen's picture

an update: last week our

an update: last week our company cut all salaries by 10% (temporarily) across the board (with the execs: president, ceo, coo taking a 20-35% cut). in exchange, they are giving us 1 extra paid vacation day per month - use it or lose it.

they hope to return to normal salaries in september when the company actually starts getting paid for our years' work. i am grateful that my job at least seems secure through the end of this year, and i think it's noble that the execs led by example which can't be said for a lot of the large companies out there who are still paying bonuses to execs while laying off the little guys.

just a little update on how the state of the economy is hitting home.

jmminarik's picture

jmminarik wrote:For me

jmminarik wrote:

For me personally, GE trading at $13 is an opportunity to buy more, not a panic event.

Well, GE trading at $7/share is a little more disconcerting...but it means my $50/month will buy almost twice as many shares and GE is still paying a dividend.

Our situation right now is probably like many peoples...sit tight and ride out the storm. We did go ahead and buy a new vehicle. Traded one and gave one to a friend who needed a decent mode of transportation. 0% financing for 5 years made it a lot easier to stomach, plus the 4x4 came in handy with the snow on Monday.

Otherwise we're probably buying less junk. Our eating habits haven't changed much...still just the occasional meal out and pizza/chinese delivery. Putting a little more into the bank and paying a little more on the house.