Saturday, March 7, 2009

How's it going?

Checking in on you and the economy. How are things? Better? Worse? Same? (We last checked in on this topic HERE.)

I was reading last night and starting to kind of panic. I had to close the laptop and take a little time out. So far, I still have my job so my day to day is the same as a year or two ago. But the news, man. Its knocks the wind out of me. Are others finding the same thing? That the news is what causes your panic, but your day-to-day is the same as it was a year ago?

What about those who have been laid off? How are things going? How is your state's unemployment insurance? I hear this varies widely from state to state.


Anonymous said...

We're holding our breath.

My husband's company had layoffs before Christmas (Why do they time it like that?), and more layoffs are coming soon from what we hear via rumors. A significant re-structuring this time.

Morale is at an all-time low. Everyone at his workplace is on pins and needles. He started taking Zoloft. It is only helping a little.


Anonymous said...

Husband is our sole provider (family of 6). He's been self employed as a civil engineer in a small town for nearly 20 years. There's no work. We swing between panic and f-it attitude multiple times a day. The job market is small for someone qualified in his line of work. It's a big circle. There's no money so there's no building so no need for his services.

I have no college education, going right now at the JC for interior design but that's not doing us a lot of good right now. I fear a $10/hr job knowing how petty and selfish that is. Knowing furthermore that the longer I wait to take one, the less likely it is that there are any left when I decide to.

We are more fortunate than many though because Husband has always worried about saving and done it even while I whined that I wanted to just 'live for today' and spend a little on a couch, etc.

I do believe that in the end it will all work out and maybe for the better. Who knows what kind of road this may take us down that we never would have traveled otherwise.

kate said...

i live in santa barbara and i thought that our small but affluent community would be immune from the broader economic issues, but i was wrong. my high end clothing boutique has seen a 50 % drop in sales, requiring me to lay off one employee and cut my buying budget in half. the silver lining in all of this, is that now i'm back at the store working 3 days and getting re-aqquainted with my customers. i've also decide to explore an idea that has been nagging at me for years, and that is to incorporate flea market finds and home decor into the mix. that way i broaden my customer base, create new interest in the store, and unlease some creative juices. i'm feeling uplifted and grateful for the inspiration and opportunity. re-invent, re-cycle, re-invigorate!

The Squirrel Girl said...

I was let go at the end of October. It was my first job out of college and I had only worked for a year and a half or so. In Tennessee (where I live) you have to work for a certain amount of months before you can get unemployment so I was totally screwed on that. It's been hard to find anything because everyone is bombarded with resumes when you apply. I feel like the spring is looking hopeful but it may just be the weather, ha.

pillow mint said...

Holding on by a thread.

I vacillate between 'scared to death' and thinking that 'it will be fine'.

I spoke with a couple of bankers on Friday. Having only been in business for 18 months, I knew the chance of getting a business loan was pretty damn slim, but they barely glanced at the paper work I had "prepared". The gentleman said, "you know, the irony is that in order for banks to loan money, the business needs to show a steady track of earning money." Yeah. The irony. If my business was steadily earning money, why the hell would I need a loan?!
Yes, I'm scared. At 39 - when I finally got the guts to follow my dream - it is scary and disheartening to think that everything might not "be fine".
Need any sheets?!

Decorina said...

Yes, well, I ignore the news for awhile and then just have to look. I'm not working and the husband is hanging on to his union job as the cuts approach his seniority number. We will deal, somehow. Scary times.

Anonymous said...

Ok people, it IS scary. But there are things we can do to prepare. We need to become self sufficient and focus our energy there rather than reacting emotionally to the news.

There are things we can do! Add your suggestions!

-get out of debt and STAY out. pay off credit cards, car loans etc. everything but your mortgage unless you can do that too. Decorno, I recall you mentioned you had no debt and paid cash for your kitchen remodel. That's exactly the right way to go about it.
-save an emergency fund of at least six months of basic expenses. if you get laid off, you'll have that plus any unemployment to carry you for at least a year. keep some cash on hand in your home. don't keep it all in the bank.
-start working on an income generating Plan B. If you are knowledge worker and don't know how to do anything else you can barter or sell, start learning now.
-learn to grow your own food and build a year supply of food storage
-don't do business with companies that are now 'federally owned' we should not reward poor corporate performance with our hard earned dollars. let the failing companies (whose business model was based on selling things to people they couldn't afford) fail so the the healthy ones can thrive with increased market share
-Eat healthy and exercise. Practice the power of now.
-If you really want something and can afford to buy it without going into debt, then buy it. Reward the local businesses that care about our communities and will continue to serve us.

To the woman whose husband is on Zoloft - he needs to get off that poison and do something to take charge of his situation. It will not help, only paralyze him from coping. Having a plan will help you both feel more in control.

We will prevail!

Anonymous said...

I'm scared.. really scared. I work for a hospitality design firm (hotels). I've been with the company for less than two years and have about 4 years of experience overall. I'm good at what I do, I work fast and efficiently and I have one of the three projects in the office. So, I "should" be fine as long as my project is still going. You never know with these things. We've had several projects stall and go on hold or just disappear.

I'm scared to death. I already don't have much left over after paying rent + bills. I get ZERO help from my family and if I could no longer pay my rent, I'd have to leave the state and move back in with my dad in MD. And if I had to do that, I wouldn't be able to get another job in this very specialized field.

The moralle in the office is terrible. And it's starting to pit us against each other. Are you guys getting any of that too? We're all talking about who is going to get laid off next and who should be safe. We're starting to get bitter about people that we don't think are pulling their weight. We were never like this before!

To answer the question - my day to day life is exactly the same. I'm very busy at work. I have plenty to do and my client is still currently paying the bill. But if things don't change in the next month or two, more people are going to be laid off. So in preparation for that, I'm not spending any money that isn't rent/car/phone/utilities/food. It's really depressing.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you - that day to day hasnt really changed. I'm very grateful that my husband and I both still have our jobs. Our firm is feeling the effects slower than many around us...but its definitely starting.
So the news scares me more than anything. I think the next few months will be the worst in our firm/industry (architecture/design).
One commenter mentioned coworkers starting to turn against each other - I can see that. Honestly I have started comparing myself to others - why would they keep them over me, what can I do to put myself in a better position etc.

Anonymous said...

I feel like a have to brace myself to read the NYTimes (or any other news, for that matter). It is very distressing. But I want to know what is going on. I'm reading more than ever. Strange? Yes. Contradictory? Yes. But that is what I'm doing.

Seems like something needs to be done about those "zombie" banks, and until this happens, little recovery is possible. I've got nothing against nationalization. Also, the nationalization is only temporary, and seems the only way out.

I recall Decoro's optimistic post about "Halfway There" Wish that were true. Its only March and everyone is saying '09 is a gone year. This may be a long one.

Anonymous said...

I too live in an affluent area, but the impact here is tangible. Our biggest local employer--IBM--has laid off a lot of high-level people. My company, in the city, let go of about 60 people this week. Pretty much everyone I know is petrified. If I didn't have a kid I wouldn't worry--so you sell the house for nothing and chill out in Mexico for a few years. But being a parent changes it for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm saving string.

(Attempt at humor.)

But, seriously. Remember from the Great Depression, people talking about saving string? What was that about? I don't even use string.

Also, I've noticed that this one is getting labeled "The Great Recession." The "D" word is too taboo.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 11:10

Eff you. The question was, "How's it going?" not, "Can you offer my readers some condescending advice?"

a) Many of us are struggling to scrape together this month's rent. So while it would be great to save six month's worth of "basic expenses," this may not be an option.

b) "learn to grow your own food"? Do you live on a commune??

c) Zoloft, Klonopin, Lithium. None of your business. What are you, a scientologist?

marf said...

my husband was laid off, we had a water leak, and found asbestos in the basement all about the same time. there are days it feels like a bad after school special.
all of the doom and gloom is driving me nuts, so i'm trying to focus on the positive or find some humor somewhere in the madness.
thankfully i have a loving, supportive, funny family, a super cute husband and two kids who are adorably hysterical when they aren't beating on each other.
i'm embracing the joy i feel when i find a fabulous deal. when i found a kick ass bottle of red wine under six bucks i was giddy for weeks.
we need more talk of the positive and less of the negative. sure my hair hasn't been colored in months and looks like shit, but my red wine super bargain makes me care less.

Anonymous said...


You're great! That's the spirit.

I can relate. If I read too much of the news, I feel like getting out the razor blades. I now color my hair myself with supplies from Sally's. I probably have a very skewed perspective, but I think it looks pretty good.

It was my husband's birthday last week and instead of going out to a fancy place, hiring a baby sitter, etc. I made a roast pork loin with smashed potatoes, and green beans and a carrot cake for dessert. The kids helped me clear off the dining room table, set it with the good china and we all had a lovely meal together. I think we were all happy, and I realized that I was glad we were celebrating all together--not just my hubby and I in a swank place.

Anonymous said...

wow, anon 11:10. any tips on how to grow my own food living in a downtown apartment? also, any tips on saving 6 months of expenses when i'm barly paying the rent? hmm??

in november, the man i was going to marry left me. in december i lost my business after struggling to make it work for the prior 6 months. thankfully i didn't have to file bankruptcy, but i still have no job. since january, i've been thinking of ways to drag myself out of the depression i've been in, and yesterday decided to call my doctor and ask for an anti-depressant.

so, i guess it's not going so well but i'm hopeful for a change soon. fingers crossed.

Lolo said...

Day to day is pretty much the same but we've been on a spending diet for the past two years. My fiance used to own a mortgage firm and has been rebuilding himself into a commercial broker, with an eye to future commercial developer. We pay cash for any big purchases (and being a homeowner means there's too many big purchases to list) but really pinch what we've got.

We honestly worry about how much of this stimulus plan is going to "work", as in, when is all the cash that is sitting on the sidelines going to man up and start investing in solid businesses again. Personally, I'm furious out how so many of the big swinging dicks on Wall Street either turned out be total pussies or complete thieves.

We braced ourselves for this a few years ago when we saw how completely ridiculous and borderline fraudulent the lenders were in terms of keeping to any sort of rational standards. However, believe me when I say there is no bitter satisfaction to be had in watching this play out. Just bitterness, and concern for the many who are suffering due to just being swept along in the slipstream.

I feel as though we're grappling with the fallout of the fallacy of "trickle down" and are going to have to suck it up and learn to adapt to the more logical practise of spreading it around. Yes, it's going to be spread thin for a while but as a first world country, it's insane that we have bridges that are literally falling down, levees that don't hold and schools that are beyond horrible. Phew. Brain ache.

Anonymous said...

I too am insanely irritated by tips to save 6 months worth of expenses. I realize that there ARE some people in the country who could do that and aren't but I think we are talking less than 1%.
My deal is a bit weird. My husband and I left the city and moved to a small town. I'm working at a paper where the reporters make around $11 an hour. that's like 20 a year.
All the other papers in the area have gone bankrupt, so it appear this terrible pay is actually the most successful business model among it's peers.
In the past, the most I've even made as a writer was 70, and I've had years where I did ok on 45 or 50, because I was self employed and the take home came out to about the same as the higher paying W2 job. My husband pays 50% of everything, we definitely need to both brin in money to stay afloat.
Our community lost an insane ammount of jobs this year - so it is crazy scary. That said, I continue to get job offers, both freelance and full time, and the husband keeps getting freelance stuff.
So it's almost about controlling what i fill my head with. Some days, i skip the NY Times, and I have been avoiding TV lately. It's working. We have changed our lifestyles completely - for the better (I think). We went from eating out nearly every night (int he city)to zero. I haven't bought an item of clothing in months and months. I used to spend at least a hundred a week.
On the upside, we don't have to worry about losing our home because we own it outright. So we might have to stay here with all the lights off and no heat if it gets really hectic, but we'll have a home. To be honest, I think I need to do more volunteering right now if I can swing it, because that's the only type of thing that makes me feel better.

severedgrrl said...

We bought a house in December. My BF was laid off in January-very, very unexpected. This was compounded by my job becoming even more stressful-while stable, I currently work 70 hours plus per week. Morale is very bad but there's not a lot to do in the job market.

If things don't change within 3-4 months I'll have to (somehow) find time for a part time job back in nursing.

Needless to say the decorating has come to a screeching halt.

Anonymous said...

I'm really lucky. My house value is down about 30% from 2 years ago. My portfolio is worth exactly 53% of what I paid for it. I have absolutely no faith that this stimulus package will do anything but make it look like the government is doing something to fix the situation, while we all just wait out the financial downturn. But, happily, my job is pretty secure and I have more than enough in my savings account. I certainly don't have the right to complain about my own situation.

Since leaving university, I've tried my best to give 10% to charity. Some years, especially when I was paying off student loans, it was really difficult but since I didn't think of it as a choice but as a necessity -- just like paying for heat and electricity -- I managed to make it happen.

I've decided for at least the next 2 years, that I have to give 15%. It means not much money left over for savings but I think I don't have a choice.

Much will go to organizations like food banks that directly help folks in need but I'm still going to give to my favorites like the local museum and zoo, since 1)they employ people 2)they provide inexpensive, pleasant activities for folks who don't have a ton of money 3) they're being hit hardest of all, since many donors think that these sorts of groups are less important during a recession than those that directly aid individuals in need.

I hope all of you who, like me, aren't being hit too hard by this downturn will consider giving more than usual.

dicey1 said...

My husband & I live in Alaska where fortunately the banks handled mortgage loans differently so we're not seeing as many foreclosures. Overall as a state we haven't been hit as hard...yet.

My husband has worked for the same company for over 30 yrs (he's 51) and the rumors are flying wildly about this branch of the company closing. It's looking like a real possibility.(tells self not to freak!) In that case he'd most likely need to take an early retirement and find something else. This is a small town and there's not much available that pays more than minimum wage.

I have a job that pays fairly decently but business is down to the point my employer is getting VERY nervous.

Day to day life for us is pretty much the same. Major purchases are on an AS NEEDED basis only and we've seriously cut back on everything that's unnecessary. We're working getting out of dept asap. I haven't kissed my salon hair coloring bye-bye yet, but I think it's time to start doing it myself.

Like many I can only take so much of the news and when it starts to feel overwhelming I try to take a look at the big picture, try to do something productive/fun. I have to do a good amount of "self talk" to keep calm and try to focus on the things that I CAN control.

As a nation we've been thru tough times and I believe we'll make it thru this too. My heart goes out to all the honest, hard working people out there who've lost jobs or fear they may soon. I feel for you...and I could be joining you for all I know.

I keep telling myself "chin up" and keep going...and take a deep breath. Don't know about you but I may have to break open that bottle of wine my uncle made a few years back! :)

jen said...

I'm in real estate and the husband is a home suck. We were never extravagant spenders, so fortunately we have zero debt and a little in savings - but work has definitely slowed down quite a bit. We are looking for ways to cut back - less eating out, no new spring wardrobe, domestic trips vs. international, etc. And crossing our fingers that I don't lose my steady corporate job.

Anonymous said...

I was laid off at the end of October. About 3 weeks later, my husband told me his company was having cash flow issues(banks not lending and all that). They then went Chapter 11 and fortunately were bought out last week. So at least for now, he has a job. It was the worst 3 months of my life. I can't believe we are all living through this. It feels like a bad dream. I have not had 1 nibble on my resume. My background is in retail, so I'm sure that has alot to do with it.

Very bad timing, but we have a very big family event this spring that I already put down a deposit for and for the past year have had all our appliances for a kitchen remodel sitting in our house. Some areas of the house are "under construction" because we started a few DIY projects that are kitchen related. As the stock market drops further and further, I continue to question spending $$ on these items. I just don't know what to do. Just too afraid to make a mistake.

Sitting home unemployed doesn't help much either. More time to read all the doom and gloom and refresh msnbc for the stock market updates.

Iheartfashion said...

Out of work for 3 months now, my family of four is starting to panic. have stopped spending completely except for food and essentials. The dire economic news doesn't help. Very scary.

sarah said...

We're getting by, and I feel lucky. I lost my job in real estate last October and got to experience the fun of the South Carolina unemployment system. I must say, as much as SC sucks at most things, they made it easy for me to apply online and I had my first check, for about half of my former pay, in about a week. I spent three months on unemployment, and every week it got worse and worse when I had to stop by the unemployment office. So many people from all walks of life are hurting.

I found a new job, for about a $5k pay cut from what I was earning previously. I don't even complain about that. I feel lucky to have a job. I feel lucky that my husband is in healthcare and is not in danger of losing his job, and that I was able to get on his insurance when I lost mine. We will probably have to move in about a year, and I'm worried already about whether or not we will be able to sell our house. However, I realize that worrying is useless, so there's no sense thinking about it now.

We're tightening our budget a bit, planning to start putting more into savings each month.

Amy said...

My husband and I are very lucky in some ways. I received a promotion and small increase at work and he changed jobs and also received a small increase. We do not own any property, we have no debt, and we have savings to last in an emergency.

The bad news? We don't have the huge savings required to put into a down payment on a house. Our apartment is small. Our car is 14 years old. We want kids. We're both overworked because our companies are understaffed.

I don't know, I'm 29 years old, I've lived my life in such a responsible way, but I feel like this economy has put me in a place where I can't reap the rewards of all of my hard work. I'd love to get a house somewhere NOT in a city, a small fixer-upper. I'd love to get a USED car that doesnt have 125,000 miles on it. I'd love for us to start having babies. To take the next step. But all of that costs a lot of money and I feel like it's a time for saving extra money instead of spending extra money if we have it.

I hate to be like wah wah wah, I'm sorry, and I do realize there are people much worse off. But is there anybody else out there who feels stalled? Like what is the next step when every day seems more and more uncertain? I'm I supposed to wait years and years to start a family?

Anonymous said...

Amy - I feel the same way. I've worked very hard in my career and I feel like I'm just starting to get recognized for my work. A lay off would put a huge damper on that. It may take years to get back on track.

I'm saving money like crazy and basically not doing anything fun that involves money.

My BF and I moved in together in October and I've really loved building out home together but now that's on hold because we aren't spending money.

We want to go on a trip to Europe but that's on hold too.

We want to get married but we're saving money for potential job loss instead.

So yes, life is basically on hold.

Kel said...

The news on the economy makes me nervous too (thanks to the media shoving it down our throats); I fear for what we will leave for the next generation...or, rather, what we *won't* leave them. But there are bright spots: after a solid 8 months of not working, using up all my savings, my unempl. benefits, and having to ask my retired parents for money to float me, I finally found a wonderful new job. It pays less, but the co. is doing well, even in this economy. A former coworker also found a job just this week as well. Yes, the situation is bleak, but not hopeless. YET. However, I have absolutely NO confidence that "the ONE" in the Whitehouse will do anything more than spin us into an economic meltdown. Get out your wheel barrels, folks.

amymezzell said...

Amy, I'm with you. My husband and I are also lucky because we both work for non-profit/religious employers who are apparently very against laying people off. We honestly aren't that afraid of losing our jobs, but we are also seeing the potential for being stalled if things don't get better fairly soon. Ideally, we'd love to start having kids in a year or 2, but with the current job market, he has had absolutely no luck in finding job opportunities to hopefully score a pay increase (recall our non-profit employers). The only debt we have is on the house we bought in November, so I think we could make it a decent amount of time if one of us were to be laid off.

We honestly haven't changed our spending that much at all, but I have recently realized the economy could stall our initial plans. I won't complain, though, because I know we're in the lucky group right now.

I hope all of you are doing okay!

Anonymous said...

I am a consultant and went from making $80 per hour, to them not having any work for me since November. Hubby doesn't make a lot since he is with the State.

I konw it seems weird, but we didn't have a chance to save anything since all the money I was making was to catch us up from the last time(s) I was between projects.

yeah, it is scary. There are ZERO jobs in my field now in the job ads.

I keep hoping something will pop up.

anonymous said...

Good grief, guys! DO NOT start having babies are still so young-wait a few years! I have a retail shop in Houston in a very posh area, and THERE IS NO ENERGY out feels exactly like it felt after the twin towers tragedy-everyone is staying home, and too traumatized to think about anything but essentials...and who can blame them? Once,years ago when my husband and I had an unbelievable amount of "bad luck" happen in a very short amount of time, I told him, "Well, at least we have our health". His reply was "You know you've hit rock bottom when you say THAT!". said...

sales of couches have DEFINITELY taken a hit the past month-- and I opened in the recession but this latest slowdown seems like something new. Dow 6500 is definitely not kind to the furniture trade.

Anonymous said...

We are all scared.

I work for the state of California, and all employees had a 10% pay cut. Husband's business is flat after several years of growth. Son is a documentary filmmaker who has seen funding dry up, there is no money. My 89-year-old father worries about GM going bankrupt and losing his pension. My mother keeps hoping the government will continue to bail out AIG since she has her annuity invested there.

So yes, people are worried.

We decided to cut back on the news, take care of our heath by eating healthier, increasing our exercise and learning yoga. We also increased our giving since so many people have greater needs.

Anonymous said...

I sell dead peoples shit. Business is no worse than three years ago when I started - but the stories are more bizarre.

From a fat queen with brown decayed teeth and meth mouth: 'I don't mean to insult you, but would you take $15 for this $70 dollie crib?' Bitch, please.

From an older hippie woman: 'I need a working spinning wheel; I'm making yarn with dog hair so I can sell knit pot-holders at the flea market.'

'I'm looking for a gift for my mother that costs $3.65 with tax.' He was wearing one loafer and one flip-flop. His pants were hacked off somewhere around clam-digger territory.

From the crazy-eyed marketing director: 'As you can see, this campaign desk has intricate mar-qwarr-tee(sic) and solid amber handles. I'd let you steal it for only $900.' It was a waterfall vanity with bakelite handles - missing the round mirror.

From a horrid bitch carrying tarnished hollow-ware (monogrammed): 'You can drop the act. Just tell me what it's worth!' She's moving and she wants to give her cleaning lady severance in leftover silver-plate (if it's cheap enough).

I've had to give up pity buys. If you were old and sweet, I used to give you $20 for a piece of crap and a story. Now, I think a band of seniors is bringing in Goodwill finds just to fuck with me.

Anonymous said...

I for one am fed up with the news media. I recognize where this started.....but it is being perpetuated by horrible journalism. I have watched as reporters go out into our communities and practically deal death blows to the businesses in those communities. Top stories are pounding us with inflated lay-off numbers and shoving stock market woes down our throats. What has become very clear is that in these days, the only thing certain is uncertainty. The news media has a responsibily to report the news in a factually based, unbiased way by not fanning the flames of that uncertainty only to increase their revenue. I recently read a very eloquent statement....irresposible use of the media's power carries with it the very real threat of creating unfounded perceptions that turn into realities. Translation....I'll be seeing my friendly local reporter in the unemployment line soon.

Anonymous said...

I have only been laid off now for three weeks and the thing that is driving me fucking crazy is how "worthless" I feel. To go from ten and twelve hours a day and Saturday overtime to nothing is really messing with my head.

I know I will be fine...I had been planning on this for a while...I just was not expecting the emotional rollercoaster ride I am experiencing!

blackclad said...

A comment from the other side of the pond. Government job, so far no lay offs, but hiring has all but frozen, and budget cuts are nigh (this doesn't stop us wasting money on conferences and out of office 'planning' days, which makes me cross).
But I really think this whole mess is going to increase the gap between rich and poor. Met a consultant at a conference, who said she went out to buy petrol, saw that cars were $3000 off, so bought one. And she's waiting for the price of real estate to fall. Sounds like a cashed up person.
We just had a major natural disaster, and people have been giving lots. I've started giving regularly to charities I believe in - am worried support for them will start to dry up, so I want to do my bit. It seems more important to me than a new couch. That might be heresy on a decor blog, but seems the right thing to do. Haven't had an overseas trip for 10years, but this seems not the right thing either - still got a mortgage, so better keep ploughing into that while I can.
Hope you all do OK.

shannon said...

i have a clothing/shoe boutique in atlanta and i am busier than ever. go figure.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 10:04 PM who sells "dead people's shit":

Your comments are fascinating. I wish you had a blog. I'd love to read it.

Do you have a place where you comment regularly??

Anonymous said...

We are all terrified.

But the Obama administration "doesn't want to waste a good crisis."

Bad as things are, they are talking down the economy further and making things worse.

We are all terrified.

Lolo said...

Broke or poor? How many people make that distinction? I know I do and I've never felt poor but I've been broke enough to ponder whether I should have ramen or eggs for dinner.

It feels like lots of broke people are terrified of being poor but don't quite grasp what the difference is.

We're certainly not a poor nation but we do have to restructure some of our broke ass economy.

rerun said...

i've been single, not dating, for about 5 years now. i left one hell-hole economy (california/bay area/post dot com bubble) for my hometown in the south. overall not a bad move, but then i got into real estate...i'm on the commercial end, but we're affected, just like the residential side. i've worked a side job to keep things moving, but it's as an independent contractor, which has it's ups and downs. i can control my hours and be available for clients, but the work isnt' always steady-winter is a down time for us and my paycheck dipped 40-50%. a deal that i thought would close got deferred. so my bills are behind and i'm stressed. savings disappeared so long ago that when i see bank account statements from years ago i wonder whose information i'm looking at. it was like another life time...

my best friend of 25 years died last december, and between the loss, no relationship, business being slow, and a bat shit crazy family, life is sometimes hard.

on the flip side, i'm stronger have more confidence. i'm doing things i NEVER thought i'd do. somehow, i'm managing. a couple of deals will close soon and some new things popped up on the horizon.

my mood swings, i try to hang on, i know that others are putting on their game face each day just as i do. some days i want to say fuck it i'm out of here, i saw picutres of myself from years back and see a smile and an attitude that wasn't so beaten down. i found a quote by malcolm x that is helping: don't look back and don't cry.

silly to say but your blog really helps. peace & blessings to you all.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 1:55 - My advice was not meant to be condescending, but to point out that WE are responsible to change our lifestyles so we aren't at the mercy of the government, economy or god forbid - pharmaceuticals - for our well being. Maybe you could direct your anger towards a constructive outcome like volunteer work?

Plenty of people 'scraping to pay rent' are in debt for shit they don't need. We are partly responsible for the situation we're in and we're the only ones who are going to get us out of it.

Anon at 2:30 - you can produce a surprising quantity of food indoors. There are lots of online sources for this, here's one:

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:56
Your attempt at trying to respond to the critique that you are not condecending only continues to make you look incredibly condecending. Isn't it wonderful for you that you live such an eloquent life. Look, I think volunteerism is a noble cause. I also believe in the importance of being conscience of our contribution to our own well being. And if this includes turning to the medical community for help than who are you to judge? I can pretty much surmise by the content of your comments that you are a bit full of yourself. Quite trying to impose your self-important views on us! We are all trying to cope here. Trying to make us all feel guilt over your implication that we may not be living up to your standards just makes you look like a jerk.

rachelle said...

anon 10:56
how dare you suggest that we take our anger and turn it towards volunteerism? who the hell are you, and why so anonymous?? i would bet that most people who've commented here do volunteer work, donate to charity, and possibly even work for non-profit organizations. we are angry because all of the hard work we've put into our lives isn't reaping a pile of shit these days. i still have to repay my $40k in student loans every month, but AIG gets $60billion for free? seriously?? yeah, i'm angry.

returning to pioneer days of growing potatoes in my back yard will not change that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the person who said "thanks, Decorno, your blog helps."

Yes. Thanks, Decorno.

And, what say you, Decorno?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I didn't find her comments condescending at all. Chill out.

Rebecca said...

What Anonymous said about giving more now than ever is important, now more than ever. It's the only way to get through what is happening-- let's give more to others in need. A Facebook friend was terrified that he would starve because his partner lost his job and the water heater just flooded the floor, needing $1,700 in repairs last week. I don't know any of his friends who would let him starve. Remember "rent parties" back in the day? And barn building? People took care of their neighbors and took strength from that.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, although I AM worried about the economy, I am also pissed-off. I find a little background helps, so here you go:

I have a good job in publishing (which, in case any of you don't know, is doing poorly). I live in Manhattan with my husband and together we make about 130-140K (he is freelance, so it varies). I don't know what this would equate to in other parts of the country, but I imagine a good lot less.

I live in a crapy, small, rental, but I can afford it. Comfortably. I have a fun social life, go out often and I save. Together we save $1000/month. On top of that I put over $800 a month into my 401K and another $450 into my own savings account.

What makes me angry is that I really don't understand how middle class, working people can't make it happen. Live beneath your means.

I don't want to sound like a bitch, honestly. I know some people have it really tough. A lot of my friends are in those situations. But I am still angry. I have always played by the rules, I have always saved plenty and lived well but below my means, and now none of that seems to matter. I've lost 50% of my investments. It pisses me off to think that there are enough people out there who lived large (even when they knew they couldn't afford it). and now the government is scrambling to help them. I don't want my tax dollars to help these people. I don't.

I full realize there are plenty of people who legitimately need help, but there are also plenty who just go too greedy and it feels really unfair.

I have to say, I've always been the stereotypical democrat by this who situation is making me into a fiscal conservative.

Anonymous said...

I have a small shop in a rural area with some drive-by tourism. Sales are down, for sure. Husband had his hours cut and we are still trying to pay off insulating our house last summer. It is very very tight. We are planning a garden this summer to help with food bills ( paying taxes on our little acre, might as well use it for all its worth.

The upside is that a lot of underlying shit that was loosely fueled by money issues in my marriage are coming to a head. Severe budgeting and daily $ talk has been like counseling for us. It has been hard, but propelled us to deal with the reality of our dreams & expectations in a forthright way that could have taken years to get around to. PLus that, we have come back to not taking anything for granted! A cup of coffee out somewhere is a big event- we look forward to it, enjoy it and thoroughly appreciate it. Its good for our kids to see because I think we were getting a little to casual with dropping 3-5$ wherever we went without really noticing. So, i still get tripped up in panic now and again and have to talk myself down from believing that I *am* this horrible economy. I am still just a person, not starving, not yet homeless.

Anonymous said...

Accch! I, too have always been a democrat and for the first time feel a little republican! Enough is enough with the bailouts- I have scrimped on every aspect of my lifestyle to keep my family safe, fed & warm. I DO NOT want to bail our people who lived beyond their means! Will I get a bailout to make up the loss in my stocks? Or maybe they can just refund my principal investment a bit? House, stocks, they are all risky investments. I was so tempted when the bank offered me a 400,000 loan, but nope, we got a little dump for 140,000 instead.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:34pm


90% of the time I am all for socialism. I think we MUST take care of those who can't do it for themselves. But I am mad as hell at the idea of giving my money to people who squandered theirs. Especially now that we see that this AIG bailout didn't even work. I listened to Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press this morning and found everything he said to be relevant and smart, and I can't remember ever thinking that way about him before....

Anonymous said...

People who are overly critical are misdirecting their anger and have no idea what people's lives here are about or how many times they've put a ton of work into something that turned into a pile of shit. It's more than a few times, but that's how life rolls.

Husbands and fiances leave. People get sick. Businesses fail. The economy sucks. You get laid off. I've been laid off three times, probably more than most people reading this. I grew up in poverty and I've been broke most of my life and that's a lot of years.

I've scraped the bottom of the barrel so many times I have no 'self' to be full of. Everything is fleeting and we only have this moment. THIS ONE.

If that makes me a jerk, then fine. I'm glad to be one.

Lolo said...

So, just spent the day in Philadelphia, went to the Flower Show and man, it was packed. At 26 per ticket that was a whole lot of cash milling around. Quite a number of the vendors were incredibly swarmed, even till the last hours of the show. The bigger ticket items weren't moving anywhere near as briskly as last year's but they said they were still making some money for the week.

Center City and Chinatown were full and the restaurants seemed to be doing a nice amount of business. The hotel was offering room upgrades for 10 dollars per night and upgrades to suites for 20 more.

Here in central PA, I think we've been grappling with the loss of big employers for some years and well, I'm hoping that being a tertiary market helps to insulate us from some of the worst fallout.

Our local newspaper even had the money to be able to expand and build a new office building for itself, which was quite surprising, given the state of newspapers overall.

Also, while the homes with the 600K and up prices are sitting unsold here, two on my block recently sold for around 300K in less than a month and that seems to hold true around the county. The lower and higher priced properties are sitting but the mid-range is still moving.

Anonymous said...

I got laid off in October, one month severance, and went back to freelance journalism. Work is up and down, some months (like now) I am too busy to breathe; all of February I was basically sitting around. I never went for unemployment because I figured the freelance work made me ineligible. My husband's job was in danger earlier last year but for now seems ok (knock wood). We have a big mortgage and almost 100K in b-school loans so it's pretty tight month-to-month but we've trimmed spending well and as long as he keeps his job we're ok. We do have money in an inherited IRA that could keep us going a couple months if he did get laid off.

Jules said...

My husband was laid off end of January in an industry that isn't hiring.

I'm going back to practicing law. In fact, I just got back from a bankruptcy seminar just now. I figure that's as good an area of law to start out in as any. I would love intellectual property, but I have no mentor in the area to turn to for advice.

Anonymous said...

memory serves post or two back you wanted a pool - i suggested lap - STAY HOME - use your new kitchen turn off the phone and computer - plant the garden and have a real vacation at home - being alone in your own house with time is marvelous

Anonymous said...

My work is doing layoffs in a week. I'm worried. I'm scared. I'm young. I was the last one hired and I'm hoping and praying that the boss will decide that my salary is peanuts and I'm not worth laying off or something.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:10 -- Go read about the biology behind that "poison" zoloft. I find you condescending and self-righteous and there's no way in hell I can grow my own food in my tiny apartment. What do you want me to do, build a chicken coop under my bed?

No, I don't have the means of saving up for the next 6 months. I've only been in the workforce since June. I'm 22.

I'm another one of those democrat-turned-fiscal conservative kids. Sorry, at 22 I don't feel like my job security should be at stake because of greedy people. I feel like such a traitor to my former cause, but seriously, times are a-changin.

Melissa said...

I live in Sydney and we are feeling it here
but not to the same extent as the US and UK
I do feel that it will bite harder in the months
to come.
In reading the comments I can only say stay in the present moment as much as possible.Certainly make provisions for any scenario that might come along but try not to dwell in the future of possiblities. I think feeling a lack of control is very hard for most people.

I lived in the US for many years and itook away with
me a great admiration for the generosity of spirit
and the tenacity and strength of the american character.
its still there....

Anonymous said...

Thing HAVE changed for us.
Probably not much sympathy, but here goes...
My husband has always provided us with a nice life, we have been lucky. He has worked in the financial world for the last 20 years and done very well some of those.
We've never lived beyond our means, but we never did without either. I admit that we like and enjoy nice things.
I have now been trying to cut our household budget by 30%, a bit tricky since my husband is now bringing home about 25% of what he used to make in "the day". In addition, I started a business in '07 that took a big loss last far we are in the black for 2009, but I hope I can keep it open through this recession because we can't afford to put another dime in it.
Some days it is so hard to put on "a face", but my kids need it, my biz needs it and I have to look somewhat optimistic when I talk Mr. Grumpy down from the ledge (becoming a daily task around here).
The upside is that I really have to leave the house most weekdays for my sanity, now that hubby has no office. Because I have no extra $ to spend, I go to work to try to make some.
It is a vicious cycle but I do count our blessings. As of this moment, everyone in this family still has their health, a nice roof over their head, good food to eat and lots of love. In addition to that, I have finally been teaching my 3 kids about $ and the fact that it has to be earned AND saved....something I should have done a LONG time ago.
I pray that our country can at least stabilize sometime soon (Mr. G says this will not happen) so that we can all have more hope.
Peace to all...except Tom Cruise wannabe...if anti-depressants can help someone cope through a rough time, I say take 'em.

Anonymous said...

The web development firm I had been working for enacted wage and hiring freezes in August. Seeing the writing on the wall, I took the first job that I could: working as an admin for university department. The work is limited, the pay is minimal, and the profs are rude. I feel stuck a lot, but I know that I'm lucky to have a job at all. I'm learning that I cannot define myself by my job and that my education/work experience doesn't entitle me to anything.

Anonymous said...

I am spitting mad. Why did I bother to live within my means in a house that my friends sniggered at when - hey! - Team Obama decides that it's those who bought places they couldn't really afford to begin with whom I must now subsidize?

And we all know that once that can of worms has been opened, there's no way we can close it. Telling folks that it's not their fault, that they """"deserve"""" to be bailed out, that people like me somehow """"owe"""" it to them just creates many more problems in the decades, maybe centuries, to come.

I'm feeling some deeply apocalyptical sh&t coming down. Seriously. This administration is scaring me more than any in the past... and that's quite a feat.

Kwana said...

Sigh. after reading these comments I'm spent so...

To answer your question, Decorno, Not so hot.

But I'm really hoping it will get better. Praying hard actually.

i suwannee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
i suwannee said...

lessons learned from this post's comments:

1) invest in pharma
2) life's not fair
3) no one 'deserves' anything. there is no oversight committee in life that doles out rewards and fairness to those who work hard/play by the rules.
4) life is short, and then you die. if you don't want your life to be dictated by $, it's possible to live that way. go to an island. go to mexico. change things. it can be done.

Cristina said...

"Together we save $1000/month. On top of that I put over $800 a month into my 401K and another $450 into my own savings account."

Ex. two parents, one works ($4000/mo), with two kids. Now add a car payment and gasonline to fuel said vehicle and a mortgage. It's not hard to understand how some people can't save money.

I don't like the bail-outs either. And I can't get behind people who buy what they KNOW they can't afford. i.e. $200,000 house on a $3000/mo budget.

And to the person who wants to give advice on how we all must be more responsible - ok, Suze Orman, quit being a wanker.

As for our situation, I don't want to jinx it. We aren't extravegant by any means. We're trying to save as much as possible; however, we have taken advantage of some sale items that we had put off buying/saved up to buy. We also try to go out and have dinner once in a while. Put some money back into the economy.

Thanks Decorno

Meg said...

We moved from New Zealand in August, traveled until January. Now in Houston, unemployed. Had no clue this was going to happen while we were on the road. While it's hard, and aggravating, looking for jobs is grim right now, things could be worse. We have our health, we have an education, we have loving families. Trying not to panic for those reasons. Trying to stay positive, trying to cultivate good energy!

little miss said...

I live with an economist, and the fundamental rule is that: things go up, things go down.

I'm totally flabbergasted at how angry people are that we're hitting rock bottom. The gains, the money, the greed and the "want, want, want" will ALWAYS have an equally steep downward slide. It's impossible to continue those kind of gains without getting hit with a big time loss.

Historically, the charts prove it. Again and again. I know I'm worried about our own situation, but this will pass, and things will move on.

As an outsider living in the United States I am continually amazed at the amount of consumption in this country. It's mind boggling.

A return to a more modest lifestyle is a good thing. This whole "entitlement" attitude (Hey, I share it at times) is so fucking ridiculous.

Have a small pity party and start figuring out how to move on. (even if that means just staying afloat). Onwards kids, lets just move onwards.

Erin at said...

We're hanging in there too, but yeah, I do fight the impulse to vomit whenever I read the newspaper. This is what I do to calm down:

1. Think about Silda Wall Spitzer - if anyone has experienced "a worst-case scenario" (i.e. husband loses job for worst possible reason) and can still walk a straight line in stilettos, it's her.

2. Sort my underwear drawer or clean off my desktop - spending 10 minutes completing some small but constructive task helps clear my mind.

3. Curl up on the floor and call it yoga - I love the balasana or child's pose. It's as close to the fetal position as you can get.

4. Take a walk outside and count chimneys (water towers, clouds, etc. - anything above eye level). I wish I could remember where I got this tip, but here's the idea behind it - the simple act of looking skyward can improve your mood.

5. Call a friend (or my mom) - I have a few go-to people who can always cheer me up. I don't mention the news.

Blair said...

Just had the economy effect me last week--got a 20% pay cut and went to four day work week! Trying to see the positive and now motivated to start my own little business on the side. But still not very fun to give up the gym membership and girls nights out!

Anonymous said...

Maybe, if you cannot afford to have a kid ( or 2, or 3) and if you cannot afford you mortgage you shouldn't get either. I'd love to have both, I can't afford either right now. There you go, money saved.

ita darling. said...

i am honestly just trying to ignore the whole mess.

i was laid off in october, and thankfully had a lot of money saved up (personally and in my tax account- Im 1099)screw it if i owe the IRS money and have to pay monthly- the government isn't going to give me a monthly stipend, so ill pay taxes when i can- if Daschle can have a screwed up tax sitch, then i can too...

i call myself "under-employed" basically hustling for money in every which direction, and losing my ego about doing work "beneath me" or below my market rate just to make new connections, stay creative and keep fluid.

i have little debt, a positive attitude and try to stay innovative.

i have always bought & sold my own stuff on ebay- so i still feel like i can keep shopping and keep selling.

that anon was being a little self righteous about saving money and growing food. i myself have been contemplating using my backyard as a food supplement, but i have a degree in horticulture, so it's not quite the same B*S.

i have also created a costco informal buying club with my friends to get good deals and split the bulk multiple ways.

i have also been bartering with friends... a drawing for my maid (who used to come twice a month and now comes every other month) in exchange for a house cleaing, new business cards for my hairdresser for a discounted do, errands for my friends in exchange for whatever they've got... and last saturday i filled in at my friends boutique in exchange for store credit and a discount... you get the picture. i am not being preachy... but anon's comments were so broad based and preachy, i just wanted to give ideas that anyone can use... times are tough and hard...

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt

best wishes to everyone during this hard time. and thanks decorno for opening up your blog in this way for folks to vent.

Anonymous said...

To the angry Dems - since when is the Republican party fiscally conservative? Seems to me the last 8 years have proved otherwise. Where is the anger about the banking and lending bailouts? The huge bonuses paid out? That was our money as well.

Obama has been in office all of, what 48 days or so. To hang the current state of the economy on him at this point is ludicrous. It is now his responsibility but he is not responsible for the shape it's in. He will own it - just not now. Where are the brilliant ideas, budgets, and stimulus plans that the naysayers{R} are proposing instead of just stubborn opposition? Obama had more than welcomed a healthy debate and showed he was interested in listening to Republicans as well.

To characterize the people fighting foreclosure that will benefit from the mortgage plan as just greedy, living beyond their means, and irresponsible is pretty simplistic. Sure, some of them are. Perhaps the great majority are people who work hard and the course of events in their lives shifted - medical costs, losing a job, etc. How did they end up with mortgages with a higher principle to income ratio? The banks and the mortgage lenders and the financial insurance companies created a new 'product' that they all profited immensely from - bundling high risk mortgages, that when packaged are rated higher {less risk} than any single high risk mortgage in that bundle. People were told that they could borrow up to a certain amount with the new income/debt ratio and they were told that because it was making a lot of people wealthy - including those in the financial sector now bemoaning the bailout. The bailout for average citizens, not the bank bailouts.

Life is not a meritocracy, especially financially - people don't always end up where they "deserve". Not all those on the lower end of earnings aren't earning less than you because they don't work as hard as you. Conversely, someone that earns more than you may not be as financially responsible or work as hard as you. To the New Yorker - I can tell you how a middle income couple can't necessarily "make it happen" the same way you are able to - health care premiums [750 after what co. puts in} Prescriptions {250-300/mo chronic illness} Children { either childcare $$$ or one spouse chooses to stay/work at home for a couple of years} Graduate school loans {some professions are vital but not big $} and an increasing real estate market {up until the crash}.

ps. anon 10:10. While I understand and agree that it is not ideal to have children you "can't afford" - who is to decide that? At what point financially is it okay? If a person or couple can take care of their modest living expenses and want to have a child - should they forgo that because they can't see the future and what may send them spinning?

After you have a kid, you really get what all the hype is about - it's the smallest, most amazing {and perhaps difficult} thing you will ever put your whole life into. If you know you want that - time may or may not be on your side, that too can effect your decision. It is an experience that you may be willing to trade in a lot for.

Cristina said...

Maybe it wasn't a very strong example. I do believe, however, that most of the people on this board are middle-classers trying to make it work. Asking us to account for the ones who aren't is like asking you to account for the mid-level people involved in ponzi schemes.

Liv said...

my husband's been unemployed since christmas. it sucks. my salary alone isn't enough to pay my student loans, and the mortgage, and the utilities.

so... we're lucky we got a tax return. that's hopefully going to pay our mortgage for a couple more months.

i'm pretty depressed and anxious all the time... and i can't even find comfort in knowning other ppl feel the same b/c then i feel WORSE knowing there are other ppl who've been out of work for longer and with greater needs, etc.

i think the worst part for me is not being able to afford to get counseling/anti-depressants to help me cope. i had the opportunity for free when i was in college, but now i can't justify paying for it... and i probably need it more now!


good luck to everyone.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how identifying oneself as "fiscally conservative" translates to Republican and anti-Obama. Can someone clarify? I'm a big fan of Obama generally, but have problems with some of his proposals.

Do you want your neighbor's mortgage to get cut by 31% because they can no longer afford it while you're continuing to scrape by on yours? Why can't he drop the interest rate down to 4% (or lower) and extent the terms to 40 years. Lots of people have been suggesting this route.

Jennifer said...

We're doing okay: Cutting coupons for the first time, and putting an end to eating out so we can get rid of the little debt we have (and hopefully pay down the house significantly).

I work for a publishing house that restructured in the fall. We were all sitting around waiting for the axe to drop for about 6 weeks -- and it did -- but I'm in a digital department and was, thankfully, spared. My husband is a civil engineer and works for a general contractor. There is no work at home, so he's just been sent on a big industrial job in another state. We'll be doing the long-distance thing again (did it while we were dating), but are very, very thankful that his job will be secure at least until the job finishes. By then maybe this will have blown over a bit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:59 - that was exactly the point. Fiscal conservatism does not equal the current Republican party. The comment was in regard to prior comments -

" I have to say, I've always been the stereotypical democrat by this who situation is making me into a fiscal conservative."


"Accch! I, too have always been a democrat and for the first time feel a little republican! "


"I'm another one of those democrat-turned-fiscal conservative kids."


"AMEN...I listened to Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press this morning and found everything he said to be relevant and smart, and I can't remember ever thinking that way about him before...."


"Team Obama decides that it's those who bought places they couldn't really afford to begin with whom I must now subsidize? "

- Might I add that Team Bush decided the country should live beyond it's means by racking up an unprecedented deficit and blowing the surplus from the Team Clinton years.
Team Bush also decided that the banks and investment firms should get our bailout money first {paulson's bailout}. I think where we are is the responsibility of both parties.

Your other point
"Do you want your neighbor's mortgage to get cut by 31% because they can no longer afford it while you're continuing to scrape by on yours? Why can't he drop the interest rate down to 4% (or lower) and extent the terms to 40 years. Lots of people have been suggesting this route."

I may be off on the specifics but this is what I know of the plan. One part of Obama's proposal is to have homeowners refinance the mortgages at a really low rate right now 4% or under, this rate would be for five years. After that your interest rate would increase by 1 percent per year until you are at market rate. Those that qualify have to show they are in foreclosure or not able to meet or keep up with their mortgage. It is doubtful it applies to income properties. I believe that to qualify your mortgage has to be Fannie/Freddie that backed it and sold it to your current mort. company. If it isn't federally backed I think they want folks to deal directly with their banks to refinance, which instead dips into the bailout money the banks were given.

If homeowners don't get some relief, right or wrong how they got to that point, so many homes will foreclose. Banks shouldn't be in the real estate business. It's really a gift to no one if your community is drowning in foreclosed homes - at the very least it lowers the equity you have in your home and your ability to leverage that later for kids college,remodel, whatever.

Personally, I am so grateful to not be in that position, but I can understand how people get there.

Anonymous said...

anon March 9, 2009 11:18're awesome!

i've decided to just stop listening to any financial news...the media is making money from fear, and i refuse to buy into it anymore.

my heart goes out to people right now, to the truly poor, to the scared, to the people who are having to live in their cars (not just the ones who have to give up a manicure or not eat out as much...good grief!!). and yes, to the people who have lost their homes. there was a lot of shitty lending going on, preying on people who maybe didn't know better (not to excuse bad behavior, we are ALL responsible for our own lives...but i definitlely think there was a lot of predetory lending going on). as usual, the rich are blaming the poor for something the rich created. but really, blaming everyone else isn't going to fix this problem...we all need to suck it up and take responsiblity for our own lives.

this american life had two REALLY good shows in december about the mortgage crises and the collapse of wallstreet...definitely worth a listen.

my day to day is the same, even though the small business i work for has been HARD hit by the mortgage crises. i just keep reminding myself that there is enough goodness out there for us all...whatever that good-ness may be.

i'll probably get eviscerated for this, but i think that the people that are going to succeed in this recession are the people who see the opportunities. who are brave enough to step out of their comfort zone (or be pushed...whatever) and who are willing to be creative and try something new. i think a lot of innovations will come from this...i think this could be a good time for small businesses, for creativity, for returning to our homes and families and selves for fulfillment. to following dreams and live a little more freely. at least, i hope so.

Anonymous said...

I am the one who has always been dem and is "feeling more republican" lately with all these bailouts. I have to clarify that I am NOT wishing I voted for Mccain, and I am not relying on the republicans in congress today.

From wiki: Republicans emphasize the role of free market decision making in fostering economic prosperity. They support the idea of individuals being economically responsible for their own actions and decisions. They favor a laissez-faire free market, policies supporting business, economic liberalism, and fiscal conservatism but with higher spending on the military.

I am referring to what some old Vermonter republican friends call "the old republican thinking".

I believe Obama is doing the best he can. The bailouts started pre-Obama and I oppose the bailouts. I loved the This American Life episodes and one this I learned is that we would have to throw 100x's the amount of money we are in the bailouts to make the banks solvent so these bailouts wont do much to actually help...


Anonymous said...

Exactly. Anyone who thinks that Bush was a "true" Republican must be... well... a Democrat. Those us who've been Republican our whole lives -- and generations back -- know that we are traditionally the party of small spending, of personal responsibility and of classic liberal economic policy. Perhaps this recession will help the party back away from courting lower-income Roman Catholics with the anti-choice platforms and return to its libertarian roots.

Yeah, no doubt Obama is doing the best he can with his impressive intellect and limited experience. But it still isn't right. And no matter how much you quote This American Life, NPR or any other left-wing media, it will never be right and will cost us more in the long run than we can currently imagine.

The economy will bounce back -- it always does -- but we'll be paying for Obama's mistaken idealism for many, many years to come.

Anonymous said...

Re: the Wiki definition.
Um, the 'free market decision making' and the 'laissez-faire free market' {i.e. the fox guarding the henhouse} is a huge part of the economic meltdown - deregulation allowing for blind short sales, bundling high risk mortgages that are overrated and frighteningly under insured. This type of 'economic liberalism' made many trillions of dollars for companies. Yes, all hail the the idea of individuals being economically responsible for their own actions and decisions - the problem is, these same companies that wanted to PRIVATIZE the fruits of the free market and balking at regulation and the raising of taxes now want to SOCIALIZE their losses. And, unfortunately, we are doing that - we kind of have to.

That to me sounds really financially irresponsible.
Meanwhile, the Republicans keep saying that the free market is the solution.

Also, do folks really think that the mortgage crisis boils down to a small percentage of homeowners who lived beyond their means? Seems like misplaced anger.

Anonymous said...

didn't see last comment.
*pounds head on desk*
A variation on the theme of 'the free market being the solution' : 'the economy will bounce back.'

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you bring up posts such as this Decorno. I think it's important for people to discuss such matters in a forum, share their own experiences, productive solutions and some ways of coping within this economic environment.

Personally, I am doing fine, though I am currently helping a handful of people get back on their feet. It's a bit challenging, but it's doable.

Before this economic breakdown, I've always lived beneath my means. I am somewhat frugal. I am also the type of person who likes to be prepared. To give you a background on myself, I was born and raised in a poor country. Both my parents were in the creative industry so we've had our ups and downs. We've lived with constant blackouts and no water so we'd have candles and hand-pumped water from the town well which we'd boil atop a fire pit to remove bacteria. For money, my father, an architect, would work overseas. A huge percentage of the people from my old country work in other countries to feed their family. We were no exception. Without that money, we'd starve. My mom would make that last somehow, and we'd gotten through a lot of hard times because we were helped by people who were also in our same situation--if not worse.

When jobs for my father bottomed out, my mom eventually moved to the USA to work as an underpaid animator at the time. We lived in a roach motel, and ate the free dried pastries for breakfast from the lobby. And because my father was still in the old country, my mother alone took care of me and my brother and sister. Every once in a while, the motel help, who became a good friend, would watch over us while my mom would go to work.

This was many years ago. I no longer live in a roach motel and I design things I once wanted as a child--things my parents couldn't afford. The design industry has been kind to me, and so has this country, to which I have nothing but gratitude to show. And despite the destabilization and collapse of the economy, I feel that it is not what or should define this country, and there is still a LOT of room for growth and opportunity as there are many sectors that are lacking.

I am a firm believer that despite the fact that desperate times may bring out the worst in people, it can most definitely bring out the best too. And I feel fortunate to have been recipient of such kindness. Don't be afraid to ask for help. And don't be hesitant to give it. It is what makes us human.

Take care everyone.

Myla said...

Input from the North:

I am a Canadian living in the Greater Toronto Area.

Couple of points:
1. Of course, Canada has been affected. The majority of the problems within my local region are indirectly a result of the failing auto industry and related US companies. ie. American owned steel companies are closing up shop...companies that were previously locally/Canadian owned.
They have been hard hit.

2. I am not a financial or political analyst. I cannot recite theories or rationales.

But bottom line, as an outsider looking in, I find SOME comments being made in the media, from both the right and left(ahem, CNBC) and right here on this board, very upsetting.

The notion that anyone should be rewarded and/or "left behind" because of previous actions is ridiculous.

You are all a part of the same system.

WE are all a part of the same system.

We ARE the system.

And in some way or another, we ALL created this.

It is not fair.
And that is life.

nicole said...

maybe we can move on to another topic. here's one: boyfriends who SUCk. my boyfriend of 2 years emailed me (accidentally) the contents of an email folder that he had saved all of his ex-girlfriends emails in - both his to her, and hers to him. i read a few before i told him that i had received it, and then i cried and smoked my first cigarette in 5 years. he loved her more than me, called her a goddess and "sexy lover" and heart is officially broken into a million tiny pieces. i can't get it out of my mind...he loved her more than me.

yes, the economy sucks, but doesn't life in general just sometimes suck even more.

Anonymous said...

"courting lower-income Roman Catholics"



Anonymous said...

our main account is up for review. Lose it..and I'm on the chopping block. even still they cut the budget by half.

super scared, having nightmares

Anonymous said...

nicole - are you in jr. high? seriously.

Anonymous said...

I hate the term "fiscal conservative." The term implies upright financial responsibility - and there was none of that in the Bush administration (uh, hello Iraq spending). And the Paulson bank bailout from last fall? Remember how upset everyone was (all the chants of "we need a bailout for Main Street and not for Wall Street")? Well, that's what Obama is trying to do - help out some of the little people (as opposed to all the Republicans that just want to help the big businesses that effed up).

And yes, a lot of us won't get help. And yes, some irresponsible people will get help. But that's life. And that kind of shit happens with Republicans or Democrats. Both sides are to blame in different ways for this whole mess But at the end of the day, I'm still going with the party that doesn't make everything about the bible and that will allow my gay friends to marry.

From now on, all the angry Dems (myself included) need to say that we are for becoming fiscally responsible. Or responsible fiscal liberals. Or something like that. This "fiscal conservative" crap has got to go.

Gretchen FFreshink said...

Thanks for a provocatiive post, Decorno. To me, the day to day seems doable, it's the news and the newspapers that have me awake at 3 a.m. My husband and I are - were- five years away from retirement, we are good little midwesterners who have saved and lived beneath our means, paid for our kids' education, etc. And now I find myself wishing we had been extravagant spenders because the result would be much the same. But I think we have to muddle through, try not to get despondent, support and love each other. It's an adventure.

Bromeliad said...

Broke versus poor? Yeah, we aren't eating corn kernels blown off trucks just yet.

Day to day is the same. Been securely low-income for awhile now. No panic.

I don't watch the news. I read Decorno.

Anonymous said...

Nicole: why not take your queries to Regardez-Moi? That's a blog that addresses issues like yours.

Bush wasn't a fiscal conservative. And that's one of the many reasons that we old-school Republicans couldn't stand him.

By being staunchly anti-abortion rights, anti-stem cell research, anti-gay marriage, he appealed to hard-line Christians. Working class Protestants tend to vote Republican no matter what, but with his focus on these issues, Bush managed to snag a surprising number of votes from a traditionally Democrat base: working class Catholics (eg. Mexican Americans, Rust belt workers, etc.) He needed these votes to become President... not once but twice.

So, WTF don't you understand about that?


Anonymous said...

Hate to be yet another complaining about life/economy/fairness, but I just have to get it off my chest!!! Caution: this is very long and overly detailed.

I grew up lower-income and my parents never went to college. I was an excellent student and was constantly told that I needed to get an excellent education I could so I can make something of myself. My parents started working up in the world and making a good amount of money (they're now upper middle-class). They always said they would help me pay for school. So I went to one of the top colleges in the US immediately followed by one of the top graduate schools in my field. That ended up being seven years of private school out of state. I received my Master's Degree in May and, after several months of job searching, finally got a job in my field (architecture). It paid extremely well (compared to what my classmates were making) but I still lived on very little. My fiance and I shopped at Costco and froze everything to save money, we didn't eat out, we didn't go to bars, we didn't buy clothes or electronics and we generally spent very little money. I was able to save during that time and put almost all of it into my student loans, which had gone into repayment for about $1500 a month. Despite what I had been told since junior high, my parents said they couldn't help me make the payments. Keep in mind, usually my position makes an average of $40K a year.

I was laid off in early December, only three months after being hired. I couldn't afford to live in Chicago any longer (10.25% sales tax!) even though I was sharing a one bedroom apartment on the south side with my fiance and living cheaply. I moved back to the west coast, moved in with my parents (doesn't feel very good at 26 with two Bachelor's Degrees and a Master's!) and have been job searching non-stop with no luck. Unfortunately I have spent the last 7 years training in an industry that is now dead. I've been struggling with depression and just generally feel useless. I feel that I need to branch out into other fields but want desperately to just enter my chosen industry.

Worst of all, my fiance is still in Chicago because his job still exists. Of course, they just had lay offs and there are now only 3 people left in his firm. He's the youngest and newest to the firm. He hates his job and wants to join me on the west coast but, understandably, doesn't want to leave his job until I have an income. We want to get married but don't want to elope and can't afford an actual wedding. He was smarter about his education (public undergrad, lived with parents during grad school) but still has anywhere between $60 and $80K in student loans.

I flip often from depression to anger. I'm angry that I spent 7 years in private schools obtaining degrees just to enter a market where I can't get a job. I'm angry that I'm young and yet feel I have no options. I'm angry that this financial mess was created by shortsighted and greedy individuals who don't have to deal with the consequences of their actions. I'm angry that I can't be with the person I love because we can't afford to be together right now. I'm angry that our (the US) government is run by self-serving corporations rather than representatives of the American people.

But I'm sickened by the name-calling and hatred that is being thrown back and forth between people in both political parties, including in the comments for this "How's it going?" post. I'm sickened that our government representatives can't put aside their individual needs to create bi-partisan solutions to fix this mess. I'm sickened that this recession could have been lessened but instead the corporations and their representatives in Congress and the executive branch decided to protect their profits instead of the lives of the masses. People are homeless. Lines at the unemployment offices are ridiculous. I'm sickened by the fact that the average person is suffering while the elite profit.

I don't have health insurance but thank God I'm fairly healthy (well, if you don't count the anemia, pre-diabetes and high-blood pressure!). Luckily I only NEED to buy one medication a month. However, I get intense migraines and can't afford to buy medication (about $65 per pill without insurance). But I understand that I'm very lucky. I don't have kids and I don't have a mortgage, so my commitments are greatly lessened. I can't imagine the lives of those out there who can't make their mortgage payment, have no health insurance and have family members who NEED multiple, expensive medication in order to survive. I've been hearing of families who can't afford to travel to work but can't afford to feed their kids without that income. I've been hearing of families who are now homeless. I just don't understand how the powerful people in this country have lost their integrity and don't have the consciousness to look at what is happening. Why can't they look beyond themselves and realize that sometimes you have to sacrifice for the better good? Even though I'm terrified and unemployed, I still donate because it's the right thing to do. Since when is the right thing to do the passe thing to do?

Alright, I know this these comments are probably pretty inappropriate for a design blog, but you asked. =P I also felt compelled to write after reading all the other comments.

I know my situation is extremely fortunate when compared to a number of people out there. I've found that the things that help me are: (1) to stop watching the news (except for the Daily Show), (2) to talk to those in the industry who are doing well, even if they're not hiring and (3) to pretend that I'm planning my wedding (or, aka, find an escape). I tried on wedding dresses the other day and pretended to not be shocked by the price tags (alas, my dream dress is $1500! I'm waiting for it to be sent to the discount sample-sale store). It's fun looking like a cake-topper but, more importantly, it allows me to forget about the economy.

Ok, that was entirely too long. But to the people who said you can't grow food in the city, check out my favorite book: The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. Even growing just three pots of herbs really changes life, at least for me.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:22 - I wrote this whole rant and then I realized you wrote it for me:

"What makes me angry is that I really don't understand how middle class, working people can't make it happen. Live beneath your means."

I cannot understand how middle class families/people are freaking out. You didn't save anything? You couldn't cover your expenses with a job busing tables if you really needed to? Spend less. Chances are you were spending at least a little money on things that didn't matter before shit hit the fan. But still. I make around 35k a year in a smallish city. I have money left to save each month because I choose to live in a home that does not cost more than 30% of my take home pay and I don't buy shit I can't afford.

1 in 50 children is homeless in the US. If you need something to freak out about, freak out about that.

I am, I should add, very saddened for all the folks who were planning to retire but cannot because their investments took a hit. I hope that they are able to re-adjust a bit and still have the lovely retirements they had planned.

Also, Decorno: please adopt "I don't read the news. I read Decorno." as your new sub-heading.

(good one, Bromeliad).

Anonymous said...

wow, Anon 12:09. That sucks. (this is the other Anon 12:09).

buck up. this will pass. architecture will be back.

Anonymous said...

also at anon 12:09: way to make me feel like a complete jackass.

what I should have said was: I understand that some people are truly in desperate times, but I am also confused by the general panic in the middle and upper middle classes. your situation is different, anon, you are right out of school and never had a chance to get on both feet. those in their 30s and upwards have at least a decade under their belts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 12:09 (this is the other Anon 12:09). I didn't mean to write so much! I just haven't had the chance to say what I've been feeling and it all came out. Don't feel like a jackass, everyone's situation is different and the majority of people aren't in mine. I know I'm still in a fortunate position (I'm staying with my parents rent free, after all!) and keep trying to tell myself that. Architecture will come back around eventually but don't feel I can abandon my training before I get any real experience. I'm just not sure what to do in the meantime. Perhaps just read a ton of old Decorno posts? =) True, better than news.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 12:09 (this is the other Anon 12:09). I didn't mean to write so much! I just haven't had the chance to say what I've been feeling and it all came out. Don't feel like a jackass, everyone's situation is different and the majority of people aren't in mine. I know I'm still in a fortunate position (I'm staying with my parents rent free, after all!) and keep trying to tell myself that. Architecture will come back around eventually but don't feel I can abandon my training before I get any real experience. I'm just not sure what to do in the meantime. Perhaps just read a ton of old Decorno posts? =) True, better than news.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:09 #1:

"I just don't understand how the powerful people in this country have lost their integrity and don't have the consciousness to look at what is happening."

I don't think the "powerful people" had any integrity to start with.

amymezzell said...

Wow, this is all crazy. I love how we LOVE to argue politics (me included, trust me). Here is one of my pet peeves, which is semi-related to this shit.

We cannot keep talking about "conservative" and "liberal" - those 2 words are pretty much complete opposite in my mind from what society considers them, anyway. I don't give a damn if Bush was a stereotypical Republican, but I do know that he had no qualms with wasting billions and billions on shit, which is no different that Democrats spending billions and billions on other dumb shit. They all just have different ways of spending. I didn't hear many Republicans bitching about all the $ spent on the war/Haliburton bullcrap/oil companies, but that's okay - I understand being okay with anything that your favored team does, even if it's destroying your own country.

I, also, am a Dem who would never retract my vote for Obama, but I also don't like my responsibly spent $ going to assholes who stupidly lived beyond their means. BUT, none of that really matters. To me, the point is that we got ourselves into this crap, and we can't keep blaming the government or anything else. I know lots of us ARE responsible, but lots of us aren't.

Things go up, and things go down. This is part of the cycle. Several people commenting here have it right - this is part of it. We can't bitch about the low parts of the cycle and only jump for joy on the high notes. We've taken advantage of the goodies available in the US for years; the country as a whole could use a dose of reality.

I genuinely am very sorry to those suffering from these times, and I know it's not ALL your fault, but come on. If you're in a situation where you can't save enough to make it a while without pay, then maybe you weren't in the smartest situation to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Fundamental Attribution Error - I think we all can struggle with this.

From wiki - some of the researched hypothesis regarding it and why we do it:

Just-world hypothesis: The belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. Attributing failures to dispositional causes rather than situational causes, which are unchangeable and uncontrollable, satisfies our need to believe that the world is fair and we have control over our life...results in a tendency for people to blame and derogate the victim of a tragic or accidental event, such as victims of rape and domestic abuse to reassure themselves of their insusceptibility to such events.

Salience of the actor: We tend to attribute an observed effect to potential causes that capture our attention. When we observe other people, the person is the primary reference point while the situation is overlooked as if it is nothing but mere background. So, attributions for others' behavior are more likely to focus on the person we see, not the situational forces acting upon that person that we may not be aware of.

Lack of effortful adjustment: Sometimes, even though we are aware that the person’s behavior is constrained by situational factors, we still commit the fundamental attribution error. This is because we do not take into account behavioral and situational information simultaneously to characterize the dispositions of the actor...people commit to fundamental attribution error more when they have no motivation or energy (i.e. under cognitive load) {Our own financial anxiety?} to process the situational information.

How much can we really know about someone's situation in order to make a fair judgement? Do we sometimes expect the people with the least to surmount the most obstacles? Just because you or I can make it on x amount of dollars, we can't understand that a different set of circumstances has played a part in someone else be unable to do the same?

Apologies for the diatribe. Habit. I have kids - well versed in lecturing.

Anonymous said...

OK, all you naysayers. So, we don't bail anybody out because they don't "deserve" it and they should have known better. What do we do instead? How bad should we allow the economy to get before you would approve of government intervention? What intervention would you find appropriate?

Anonymous said...

I dont know- i have a facebook acct. and it seems every day someone else is posting picture of their gorgeous vacations. HUH?! Don't get it.

buck said...

A postcard from the edge.

Greetings from ground zero, where the economic hits just keep on playing day after lousy day. Motown, The Motor City, or more accurately, the Motorless City. The company I worked for closed it's doors at the end of 2008. I'm 62, a prototype fabricator for high end garden objects,pergolas,steel planters, etc. My age and skill set puts me pretty much at the end of the end of the employment line. The State of Michigan and the Detroit area in particular is pretty much broken and when GM and Chrysler go down the pipe which seems likely, the patient will be pretty well beyond medical intervention. Unemployment is now well over 10% and projected to get much worse. I am more fortunate than most because my partner owns a high end garden design store and a very successful landscape design company, so I have a little more distance between me and the street than a lot of others out there now.
The City of Detrout looks like a movie set for Blade Runner or a Mad Max sequel - burned, blasted, hollowed out and mostly vacant. But it still has room to get much worse and it probably will when the Big 3 become the Big Minus 3.
What used to be charitably described as the Rust Belt, has now morphed into the Rust Bucket. And it's so full of holes it will no longer hold water.

Having painted this cheery and optimistic picture, i will say that I still very much enjoy your blog and hope for your continued success. And employment.

Wheelchair said...

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Wheelchairs Lightweight

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