Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are you doing better now than you were last year?


"I'm hiding all my cash in my giant sleeves..."


So here's another question for everyone. The talk of layoffs and financial woe won't let up, but what about people who have been completely untouched by this? They must be out there.

Is anyone actually doing better now than 6 months or a year ago? If so, what do you do? And how are you (or are you not) spending your money these days? And do you feel any kind of survivors guilt? Has anyone actually received a raise in the last few months?

If you are mostly untouched by this downturn, I am particularly interested in hearing where you live... literally what zip code, and if your neighbors are more or less faring the same.

Spill the beans.

114 comments:

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are n doing better but my dear old Dad got a huge raise and a bonus. Guess what he does? Financial forensic accounting (Enron cases and the like). No shocker there.

Kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm not doing any worse financially, but it's harder to find jobs in my field (healthcare). I'd love to switch jobs and there is just nothing out there available.

iona said...

Living in SF/94109/Pac Hts. My husband is a VP at a high tech start-up. We definitely felt the pinch but it was more psychological than anything else i.e I was scared shitless!! I'm the poor girl from Bklyn and hubby is Mr Prep School. He wasn't worried at all and I was scared to death. (I) We are still careful about spending. Lost alot in the stock market - made about half of it back so I'm feeling a little better. I don't do well with threats of destruction floating around in my head.
Garden Lust Journal

Katie said...

Surprisingly, I'm doing a bit better this year than last. I've got a raise and have been made an offer with promotion at another company.

I'm an engineer.

And I TOTALLY feel survivors guilt.

Emmy said...

We are doing the same if not better, but we are in the Netherlands and I do think that things are more stable here even though we are in a shrinking economy. There are, unfortunately, no tips or wisdom or tricks as to how we are doing this. We both made risky job moves back in 2006 which gave us less stability but more flexibility and more money. That allowed us to build up emergency savings (we had zero before, less than zero if I am honest). But we weren't fortune tellers, neither of us had any idea how hard and fast the economies would crash around us. What we do now is take each day at a time, plough what we can into savings, put nothing on credit that we don't have money already in the bank for. We are lucky, so so very lucky, I know.

Kat said...

My husband and I are doing better this year... we are both grad students, so we really didn't have much to begin with, but we have been really good about saving, and coupled with my very well-paying summer internship, we are doing soooo much better than this time last year! I feel bad about it sometimes.

Anonymous said...

So, my manager calls me last Thursday on my cell before work. I waited to call her back fearing I would be laid off while driving - but she gave me a promotion and about a 25% bump in pay. Totally shocking.

Jessica said...

We're in TX, 76133, and things are half good and half bad. We are definitely better off now than we were this time last year. Husband got a better job and a pay increase since September. We bought a house in January and have felt some guilt about getting such a great interest rate and lucking into the kick-ass tax credit. That said, I always worry about money, no matter what the economy is doing. On the other side of that, we have friends who are unemployed and my dad was laid off earlier this year, so our situation certainly isn't the norm.

Anonymous said...

We are doing better, no thanks to our own strategies but to my father-in-law who made a business deal, right place, right time, and distributed most of the money to his kids. I'm totally grateful, but feel so weird -- I didn't earn it and it's such a strange time. While some close friends and my side of the family know we got some money (e.g., we bought a new house which is hard to hide) they don't know the extent of it and I feel very uncomfortable talking about it.

g. said...

Nada...

Brooke said...

I'm doing better, actually- I'm a grad student, so I have a contract to make a poverty level income until 2013. Since I got picked up to teach this summer, I'll be making a full 12 months of pay instead of the 9 months of pay I made last year.

But my fiance and I have a wedding and hopefully honeymoon to help pay for (thanks parents!) and he'll be starting law school (hello, $150K in debt!) so we're bracing ourselves.

Brooke said...

Oh, and I'm in Austin, 78704.

Mrs. Limestone said...

I don't think anyone can truly be untouched unless you have no friends or family.

That said, the vast majority of people are still working so its not quite as dire as the media makes it. Even people who have been laid off are finding new and better jobs - its harder to do but not impossible.

cheeky said...

nyc, 10007. my husband and i moved to new york last september, right before the huge economic downturn. we moved out here for a new job for him and i got a job in early november. since our move we've each more than doubled our salaries and are living more comfortably than we ever have been in our lives. i don't feel guilty at all - i feel lucky. and i continue to shop because i can, and i feel that it's my duty to do so at the moment.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were not touched by the financial crisis, but it has affected us psychologically. I am spending less on clothes, jewelry, etc. We live in the Hollywood Hills in LA (90068) and it seems most of our neighborhood is thriving-houses being remodeled, parties being thrown, Bentley's being purchased. There has been one house that foreclosed in our 'hood, but since it sold for $1.4 million and was a total dump, it does not seem to be a typical foreclosure. I don't feel guilty, just incredibly lucky and grateful.

Tracey said...

We're in Texas (75007) and are doing pretty much the same, a little better I suppose as my husband gets a "cost-of-living" raise at the first of every year. I have some degree of guilt but my husband and I struggled for years and years while everyone around us seemed to prosper. So the way everyone is complaining about living now is how we lived for years. I think I feel more relief than anything that we're weathering this storm.

Anonymous said...

I live in a "nice" part of the Orange County, CA. For the most part you'd never know these are economically challenging times.....but recently I've heard that rental units are offering far better deals. Watching Craigslist, I've noticed a lot of people are trying to offload expensive vehicles.

We are doing about the same as last year. My partner's last week of work for a while is this week, but that is due to last year's writers strike not the economy.

CashmereLibrarian said...

My husband and I are both in academia, and so we are relatively safe job-wise as are most of the people in our college town. Of course, we don't make much, but we have great benefits and there is no housing bubble where we live, so we haven't been negatively affected in that respect either.
However, our 401ks have sunk like everybody elses.

Amandromeda said...

We're doing better this year. I live in Northwest Arkansas and my husband works for Walmart. He got a healthy bonus and his yearly raise. I have opened my own business and am doing reasonably well. I don't feel guilty but very thankful. My husband's team was severely downsized earlier this year and he was fortunate enough to keep his job. We spend just like we used to. I know that all that can change tomorrow so I don't think I'm something special, just very thankful for today.

v a n e s s a said...

The same... maybe not quite as well but I feel very grateful things are worse. Just being more aware of where my money goes. I have been planning on moving at the end of this year but am now a little bit nervous about leaving my job.

Oh and I'm in Santa Barbara 93105

Kimberly Julie said...

I got a promotion this year... I live in Athens, Georgia and I cannot say the same for the rest of the people around here, but we are funded by federal grants and definitely benefited from the stimulus package. Thanks, Obama!

Unfortunately I am an idiot and I'm quitting my job to move to St. Croix for 6 months. I'm sure that when I return I'll be waiting tables just to make ends meat. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

My husband is an engineer in Boulder, CO. He got his yearly raise and actually should be getting another raise soon as he just finished his masters degree.

I feel sorry, but I don't feel guilty, we give a significant portion of our income to charity.

The Upstart said...

I'm in academia as well. My school lost some money, but we haven't been affected.

Our college town has seen some problems (abandoned boutique hotel project has a steel skeleton sitting smack in the middle of our shopping district), but the school is fine.

The value of my home actually went up this year.

gp193 said...

I live in New York City - and I just got a $5k raise at work. I'm a lawyer for the state government, which is probably the safest place to be right now. My partner also got a raise, her company has new investors and now she's becoming an equity partner. We also took advantage of the rent decreases here and doubled our living space without paying much more. It's definitely an upgrade from last year. Just yesterday I heard that a friend got laid off - my first friend to lose a job. This recession has been weird for me since very few people I know have been directly affected. I absolutely feel survivor's guilt, and I feel like I'm standing on a rapidly shrinking iceberg and I won't tempt fate by gloating over my good fortune.

Anonymous said...

I was laid off last year, but was able to find a job within about 5 months. I've been working as an executive assistant for many years now and I guess my occupation is always needed due to the inability of higher level executives keeping themselves organized. thank gawd for that ;) i live in mercer island, wa (apt.) and we just moved there from capitol hill.

Allison aka HaselBride said...

This is a great topic! I'm in Las Vegas. My husband is an Air Force pilot and I'm a graphic designer employed by a grant-funded non-profit. We're doing pretty well, especially since last year I was strictly freelance, making a quarter of what I'm making now.

We just bought a home here we never would have been able to afford because the foreclosure rate is so high. Homes are pretty much half-off. I can't help but worry that our neighbors hate us because we were able to take advantage of so many people's misfortune. The unemployment rate in Vegas is higher than in the rest of the country.

Do I feel guilty? Heck yeah. I live in a bigger house than I grew up in, our master bath is the size of my childhood bedroom. I just hope eventually we'll be in a boom again and things will even out.

MGS Photography said...

we're in Dallas...we are doing slightly better than last year...both my husband and I got raises and my husband got a promotion...I work in auto insurance, he works for a tech company...his company did have layoffs, but it didn't affect his division...my main issue is I have been trying to become a teacher but school districts don't seem to be hiring as much, and it seems that everyone who lost their job decided to get a teaching cert and flooded the job market :/

Mary said...

I live in the Midwest (suburb of Milwaukee, WI) and while we definitely see some foreclosures, jobs losses, etc. we see it on a much smaller scale than most parts of the country (California, Florida, the sunbelt etc) I think largely because everything here is more conservative (lending practices, home prices, and so forth). My zip code is 53122.

Anonymous said...

I think we are doing better than last year. Last year this time my husband had filed for bankruptcy,his business failed,and we had an adjustable rate mortgage. So we opted to stop paying the mortgage put the house on the market and move back to our home state of MI. The house sold on a short sale 6 months later it was worth $40000 less than what we paid for it. My credit score suffered because of the late payments,but I don't have a foreclosure, and my score is not good but in the mid to high 600s. We do not like living in MI, but he had a guaranteed job, but I have had the hardest time looking for work. We aren't hurting because of his profession (dentist), but my career is stagnate here. He was offered a job in Chicago,IL (which is expensive) in the high 100000s. So were are going for it. It has been a rollercoaster ride for sure, but we are survivors,and will do what we have to. This has made us appreciative of what we have and cherish the things that really matter. Def not all the stuff you know. We were in our situation not because of the economy but because we made bad financial decisions.

Love + Marriage said...

I live in Seattle. I'm doing better, mostly because I changed jobs in Nov '07 and at my new job as they have laid others off, they have given me more responsibility and even sent me to school to learn more. I feel like it is because I have always been willing to take on a lot, it has made my job more secure. Also, my husband, who was an illegal alien finally got his 'papers' so now we have two incomes! Wooohoo!

Anonymous said...

laid off+unemployment=fuck no.

Ryan said...

My partner and I are in the arts. I am a photographer, he is a scenic and lighting designer for theatre.

We've been WAY busier making more than last year, and even previous years. I had one of the busiest winters in a few years (and in commercial photography, winter is typically DEAD!).

We're in 60607 and are grateful that we have an affordable living situation and both having studios within our live/work loft.

Anonymous said...

My husband got a 20K raise last month (he's a government attorney, so there you go). So, we're doing fine. We're still cutting back, trying to get rid of some of the law school debt. The economy has hurt us though - we want to get back to the South, but the job market has completely dried up. We're stuck in a Northern Virginia townhome with three kids and no backyard...

Krysta said...

I'm in NYC (10023), and am doing worlds better this year than last. I recently recieved a substantial raise and a bonus and have subsequently moved into my own (albiet very small) apartment. I don't feel guilty, I feel extremely lucky and I work hard to excel at work and appreciate everything I have. I also attribute a lot of my "worlds better these days" attitude to the fact that I found a job I actually love going to everyday and I took the steps to make my dream of moving to NYC happen. That all being said, I don't have investments or huge savings so I didn't have much ground to really be effected by a downturn to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I am doing better (though I am still keeping my fingers crossed). I got a deal on a house, qualified for the $8000 rebate, and my company is hiring. I am in construction, but thanks to conservative management we had no debt, which has helped us ride out the slump in business (which really began a couple of years ago when the local house market began to flood). I am not worried about losing my job, but I do worry that my salary could go down since half of it is in bonuses. (We are a private company, so naysayers can suck it). I am trying to keep a solid emergency fund available just in case. I hate being poor. Been there, done that.

I have several cohorts who have lost jobs or are freaking out about loss of commissions. I feel for them, but at the same time, they have been flaunting their big houses and new cars for years. Something tells me they are going to be fine in the long run, but kind of deserve a scare. I mean quit the country club before you cry about food prices.

I am trying to give to charity more to help with the guilt I feel over the real victims--the little guys who have lost their jobs because of corporate greed.

The best part about this crisis is that it has eliminated any "keeping up with the Joneses" feelings I may have been harboring. It turns out that the Joneses were a bunch of phonies.

Amy said...

We live in Jersey City, I work in the Manhattan, my husband works in Jersey. We are both much better off than one year ago. We have been working continually through the economic downturn and both received increases in our salaries in January.
We were married in October and reeling all summer and fall from the financial hit we took on paying for our wedding. (Mind you we spent about 10 percent of what most couples do around here for our wedding - but it was a lot of money to us!!)
Now everything is more than paid off: we've doubled our savings from what it was one year ago! We're thinking about buying a house while the prices and interest are low.

Two money-saving tips that have helped us immensely:
1) We've been paying into our savings account every month as if it was a bill.
2) Cooking at home - we go grocery shopping every two weeks and have easily cut our monthly food bill in half!

Anonymous said...

raleigh, nc 27608

my husband does marketing for grocery stores and business is booming. he's gotten a pretty substantial raise this year. we refinanced house and got a lower mortgage payment. less taxes are being taken out each paycheck b/c of obama.

Anonymous said...

So Cal (92373) I am an esthetician for Aveda. I have never been busier. I am booked out 5-6 weeks. Go figure. Lots of facials, waxing, massage. Couples, girlfriends, you name it. Everyone says it's cheaper than therapy. Yeah for me!

nikinikinine said...

We're definitely doing better. We live outside of Albany, NY and being the capital, there is just more opportunity here than in other areas of Upstate NY.

I have always been a crazy budgeter and we worked through our entire 20's to put a substantial amount of money away and pay off all consumer/college debts. Even if we were to lose our jobs we'd be set for about a year.

Hubs is in medical device sales, and while the hospitals are buying less product at a time these products are needed to save people's lives so there is no shortage of work/income for him. His company did freeze their 3% base salary increases this year, but he's still making more in commission this year than last, so we haven't felt a difference.

I work in CorpComm for a technology company. Thanks to Obama's Spending Plan billions of dollars have been funneled into the NIH, NLM and NSF which funds our company. We're slated to grow by 30% this year and have our best revenue year to date. I got a 5.6% raise at my annual review.

My relatives in NJ aren't fairing as well. And while I feel bad that others are suffering in this economic downturn, I don't feel bad that we're not. I do, however, feel very blessed.

Anonymous said...

I got married last year, so we consolidated apartments and opened a joint account. It seems like we're doing better than last year - we put $1K a month toward credit card debt, which will have us debt-free by the end of the year. I'm in advertising in Chicago, so of course I'm nervous, but my main account is pretty steady. My sister is in advertising in Detroit, though, and she got laid off on Monday. Ugh.

Kathy said...

We lost money in our investments but that's it. Most of our assets are liquid, we are purchasing a house to rent as an investment. My husbands work is seasonal and right now business is up 10% above last year at this time. I work part time at a job I hate, just to stay out of trouble and avoid spending - I can't wait for the economy to change so I can get a job I like. I'm in NJ.

Anonymous said...

I'm not doing any worse... got a slight cost of living raise, but that was offset by my property taxes. i do feel a little guilty. And I haven't really been spending much... but that has just as much to do with the fact that there just really isn't much that I want as it does with the fact that I'd feel guilty buyign anything new.

The closest this has hit to home is that my fatehr in law was laid off... but he had enough pension credits to just retire so it didn't really matter.

Anonymous said...

oh, and I'm in upstate NY and work in politics. As far as I know, my neighbors are all in the same situation. I know one of them just got a new job.

Anonymous said...

What are you doing collecting writing samples for a future book?

Kosicle said...

I remain unscathed by current economic hard times. I became totally debt free at the beginning of the year, so I had already trained myself to spend very little, and that trend has continued. My fiance (24 days to the debt free paid for by us wedding, woot!) found a job two months ago working for the state. His old job was moved to florida and I was worried that I had said yes to marry an unemployed man (now that's love) but luckily he found his current job and things are good. We're looking to buy a house here, (Salem, OR) because now is the best time to buy. He did take a hit on his retirement, but since I am newly debt free I hadn't started my retirement yet. So yeah I am doing better than last year.
I try to give more than I used to give because I know how fortunate I am to be in this position. I think working in the medical field (bookkeeper for a doctor) has helped, people will always need to see their doctor, so it adds some job security.

Rachel said...

It seems like most are doing about the same or better - that's great to hear!

We are doing about the same - not super great, but not living out of a box yet. But most of that is due to credit card bills that were piled up in our youth and have nothing to do with the economy.
My husband's company did have layoffs - only the second time ever - but his job is still secure. He is in staffing.
I work for a design trade showroom, and while we were a little scared last fall because it was very slow (fall is generally a very busy time for us), it has picked back up for us, even though some designers are still slower than normal. There are a few people at the showroom that were put on 4-day work weeks, but they were able to keep their benefits and their jobs. My commissions did go down for the last part of the year last year, but it wasn't dramatic. My commissions for this period should be back to normal or better.
And while most of the country has seen home prices fall, our area really hasn't.

I work in Dallas - 75207
I live in Arlington - 76012

I don't really have a lot of "guilt" for not being adversely affected, I guess because we aren't really cashing in either. I am glad, though, that more people are watching what they spend, and that "budget" is no longer a dirty word! I don't feel so left-out of it anymore that I don't drive a Mercedes. It's cool to be cost-conscious and creative again.

sasha said...

San Francisco, 94107. We're doing better than we were last year thanks to my boyfriend's job at a silicon valley company, that microsoft doesn't like, and his parents. He's doing well at his job and his company is doing well overall. His parents gave us the money for a down payment on a condo in the city which we just purchased to take advantage of the incredibly low interest rates, low prices and great federal and state tax credits.

I'm feeling the crunch in a way because it's really difficult to find jobs right now. I work from home (used to work in LA but started working from home when we moved up to SF last year) but have been trying to find an office job in marketing since October with no biters. On one hand it's been tough but on the other I still have my current job that has decent pay and hasn't laid anyone off yet.

Psychologically we're both scared of the recession and we feel somewhat guilty that we're not feeling it as much as others. I have a couple friends that worked in finance that were laid off but overall I don't think people are severely affected by it. The people I know that got laid off are taking it as an opportunity to switch careers and get into something they love to do, like learning about wine and getting into that industry. With SF being a major metropolis that isn't supported by any one single industry, I don't think the city itself is feeling the crunch as much as other places.

I've been spending less overall but I haven't stopped spending completely because I know that doesn't help anything. We were never the type to spend money we didn't have on frivolous goods so it's only what we have in cash. I have become more picky though, only spending my money on something that really feels worth it, and definitely taking advantage of sales when I can.

Anonymous said...

We are in the midwest and last night got great news: my husband wasn't going to have a 5% salary reduction. Offset by the fact that the health insurance has gone out the roof. We're lucky in that we own our home, but retirement is closer for us than most Decorno readers so there is less time to make up our uncharitable contributions to the masters of the universe who really f-d this thing up.

Atlanta said...

I actually am (knock on wood) in the best financial position I've ever been- have emergency fund, have brought down my Credit Card debt significantly and even got a small raise this year. Of course, I am in this position because I'm scared to death of losing my job (management consulting) due to the economy and am saving and reducing my debt rather than going shopping or otherwise spending money.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth should anyone feel guilty for not suffering? Especially those who've been frugal or wise and planned ahead. But even those who've been blessed with unexpected abundance - why the guilt? If good people don't get rich, who can possibly help the poor? If your goal in life us to help those les fortunate, it's your duty to become prosperous enough to help others. Otherwise you'll just be next to them asking for help. IJS...

Anonymous said...

60657 and it is worse than last year - 60k realized investment loss, perhaps five sales per month for revenue, and hefty tax increases on all my favorite vices.

I'm spending, but I've switched from arty purchases to supply/tool/appliance purchases. I get the feeling we'll have an hyperinflation party soon.

Everyone I know is using this economy as an excuse to be cheap on stupid stuff like toilet paper and extravagant on stuff like cars.

Anonymous said...

I'm not someone you asked to comment but I'm going to anyway. I'm doing 10 times worse than this time last year.

At exactly this time last year I was being awarded as a "young designer to watch". I was published in a magazine and about to open another hotel design project. In July last year I got a promotion and an 18% raise.

And this year, I got laid off (April 27th).

Award winning designer with her promising career ahead of her to unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Seems as though I am in the monority here as this past year has personally been much worse than normal. I work in advertising in Atlanta and clients are scared to spend any money. After enduring company wide pay-cuts to keep jobs, I still consider myself lucky to have the job. Lost loads of money in the market, too which was swell.

Anonymous said...

We've been doing better each year for several years now - our investments have taken a beating this last year but we have a while to wait that out. Four years ago my then brand-new hubby and I were 50K in debt due to his ridiculously profligate ex-wife and subsequent bad divorce. I thought it was ridiculous to have so much debt and I was terrified but I've never been attached to "stuff." I put us on a very strict debt diet and put all the toys up for sale. It actually took only two years to get out of the red and into the black... and wow did it feel good to break even - to not owe anyone anything. We continued on that path for another two years, saving to buy a house, and not buying the SUVs and flatscreens and coach bags (and $800 Christmas trees - I'm not kidding) that we saw everyone else flaunting. And we finally bought a house this January and got the sweet $8000 in our pocket to boot. I don't feel guilt because we've spent within our means. There's even a bit of "I told you so" because 4 years ago, I was looking around and thinking - how ARE you people, exactly, able to buy all this shit? I knew then they were laying it on plastic and HELOCS and I tried to explode the myth of the Jonses to everyone who would listen. I was sick of the rampant consumerism then and I'm glad we are collectively seeing the light now. Not because I'm not sad for those that are down on their luck, but because we should all live within our means. Period.

Anonymous said...

I took a big hit this year (10021). My firm has gone through 6 rounds of layoffs (NY financial services), I've had to lay off half of my staff that I have spent years building up and mentoring, and my total comp is down 50% vs. last year and down 70% vs the year before that. Investments down around 75% since a lot of it was in my firm's stock. On the upside, my partner's business is doing better than ever (decorator) and so long as I keep my job we'll do fine.

Amy said...

Dear Anonymous at 1:19.

Your message broke my heart, but don't be discouraged. It seems that you were just laid off last week and you're probably feeling your worst...
Take advantage of the nice weather in the coming weeks, refresh, regroup, and throw that awesome "young designer to watch" award in your portfolio. I promise in the next few months you'll find a better job for more pay.

Ivy said...

Hi - I'm in Denver, 80202. Worse this year by far. I design trial demonstratives/and tutorials in 2-D, 3-D and interactive media. My work dried up last August, after what looked to be a record breaking year for earnings, and has not picked up yet. I'm self employed with no unemployment coming. UGH! Here's hoping for a better year to come.

Anonymous said...

Got a raise in December.
And a bonus in March.
Work at an animation studio.
Live in Palo Alto, CA.
I don't think recessions hit Palo Alto. It's like a bubble with a
protective shield of prius'.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to chime in here, I'm not the 'decorno' blogger - just an occasional reader and love the topics that generate interesting/informative commentary.

I've read all the above posts and there seems to be a trend and I'm wondering if my glass half-empty side is more dominant today or whether there really is something going on. Of course, Decorno swayed the comments by asking where the people were who were doing better so those who weren't may not have felt the need to comment (though a few have).

As such, most appear to be better off because of some sort of 'life' change - moving, marriage, 'gift/inherited' money. Optimism over having a job, being busy and perhaps getting a raise made the person feel lucky.

However, has overall total financial fortune been considered (medical insurance benefits, vacation time, retirement $, house value to debt ratio). Have you looked at the cost of things lately, property taxes, food, college tuition and the services provided for the $ spent.

We live in NJ near NYC and feel guilty and fortunate at the same time. We're employed, are very busy because of a freeze in hiring - not replacing natural attrition, got pay raises but not sufficiently enough to make up for the increases in property taxes, electric/heating bills, 2 growing kids whose schools have cut back so we're now trying to supplement separately and of course, our 401Ks are in the toilet. Yes, we have about 20+ years to make-up and save but we're more worried about what we hear in the news. NPR reported today that most states are using the stimulus pkg. $ to balance their budgets and not create jobs or get the economy moving. Many municipalities are now reporting that their 2010 budgets need to be cut by 30-40% since there isn't any more stimulus $ coming.

I'll join those with feeling better off because we've come closer to really appreciating what's important - a pasta dinner at home with family and candles on the table followed by a game of Clue can be great fun. Before we would have had to go out for dinner and then to a movie - now we economize - and having fun with our new found pleasures.

Sidney Ann said...

My boyfriend works for Boeing, two months ago he got a raise. Go figure. I am a student again so it's hard to say whether I'm better or worse. :)

Anonymous said...

My hubby and I just moved for his schooling. His income is secure for a few years; I don't have a job yet and it's been a month of being unemployed (no benefits since I quit) for me. I've been looking for a few months, from before the move to now, a month later, and nothing. We're within a few dollars of making ends meet, and I wonder if we'll be poor for a long while yet. We have savings if push comes to shove, but I'd rather not touch it.

Erin said...

I am doing better this year - got a decent raise in December. I work in brand management for consumer packaged goods (stuff like laundry detergent and toilet paper - glamorous, I know). The industry's often said to be "recession proof" (it's not, but it's certainly doing better than auto, travel, luxury, consulting, all that extra stuff). I have to give my company credit that they are very, very fair when it comes to managing and taking care of people through tough times. There's restructuring (e.g. reduction of workforce over time) going on, but it's been well managed and there are no mass layoffs, and reasonable packages.

As far as what I'm doing money-wise, I'm saving way more than I was a year ago, as I do feel at least some uncertainty for the future. For me, it's been a time to reevaluate. I'm definitely not buying as much "stuff" right now. I have still been doing some traveling, but in a super budget way.

I don't feel guilty necessarily, but I do feel very thankful for my job. I'm working a little harder than usual, and trying to just focus on the most important stuff like health, family, friends. BTW, I live in the Seattle area, 98033

The O'Donnells said...

we're in MS (39110) and we've faired well. husband got a job last november and we are blessed! we are both attorneys for the government and couldn't be more thankful for our employers. a lot of law firms are laying off big time! we also bought a house last november...i should get a raise this summer...any worrying we do about money is self induced. like i said we feel tremendously blessed and don't take a second of it for granted.

leni said...

My landlord just defaulted on his mortgage and I have to move out. I also have to find a new job, but at least my boss gave me some notice!

Anonymous said...

What happened to talk about decor? I'm tired of reading about tattoos, drugs, and money. Bring back the decor.

Decorno said...

Anon, I don't work for you. Start your own blog.

TK said...

My husband & I both changed jobs last fall so that means we are doing better this year.

BUT, we live in San Francisco (94110), home of what I now call the "alleged recession". It doesn't seem like the city has felt it at all, with the exception of a few small business that were barely hanging on last year.

This was explained by a big shot economist, who said that people who are renting have not lost much in this economy, as long as they still have their jobs. Their disposable income has remained the same as long as they have their jobs. And I hardly know anyone who has been laid off in the *city* of SF.

That really explained why a city like SF still seems to be bustling at all price points. I shake my head in disbelief almost weekly, but at the same time, am happy to be living in area that isn't completely depressed from the "alleged recession".

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn, NY and the recession took a while to hit my house, but damn, did we get hit. Boyfriend got laid off two months ago. I'm a freelancer and two of my three big money clients dropped me, citing lack of funds. They swear they'll pick me up again when the money starts rolling in again, but I can't really count on that. And today I was turned down for a part-time job I'm more than qualified to perform. Freaking out a lot over here. Oddly enough, it is encouraging to hear of so many people doing well. It makes me feel like there's some hope.

Anonymous said...

Raleigh/ Chapel Hill, NC

This is an awful time to be graduating college. First summer in 5 years I haven't readily found work.
After a paid internship last year I thought I'd have an easier time this summer - nadda. All paid internships are gone and no one wants to hire college students when they can hire unemployed people with degrees.
Luckily I have one more year before I have to decide between entering this horrible job market or going to grad school. And lack of decent jobs means I'm still unable to afford a car, no one in my family qualifies for loans...so no transportation to higher paying jobs downtown.

I'm paying my own way through school, this economy is still terrifying.

Anonymous said...

college grad 2008 teaching at a private school = mass layoffs. working on my law school applications this summer.

*slightly bitter*

Anonymous said...

nothing has changed, except my 401k and investments have tanked. I am not worried because I know they will come back (and I have some time). I don't own a home and my rent hasn't changed. I got a raise at work and other than utilities I don't have any monthly bills. I don't feel guilty at all. I never bought myself into a whole of things I couldn't afford and I made sure I kept an emergency fund in case I lose my job. I have a hard time feeling badly for people who lost their 5 bedroom, 4 bath home they couldn't afford in the first place.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Not doing any better at all. In fact, worse, given salary pruning and the like. Oddly, however, I feel hopeful rather than morose. Whether this feeling will continue is open to debate, but at the moment, I feel much more creative and eager to immerse myself in DIY projects, if only prove that I can pursue decorating projects and complete them without gross outlay.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing better. Same day job (university adjunct) and doing a ton of live video performances on the weekends in NYC (mostly). I honestly don't feel an guilt. I make my own opportunities and work my ass off to get gigs and improve my game. I enjoy my money and indulge in what I like.

Anonymous said...

zip 21093. Maryland. We're doing better than last year. I do feel bad for others less fortunate but not guilty. My husband is a company owner in the construction field. Luckily, in our area business is still doing well. We have changed our spending habits, just in case anything spirals downward.

Anonymous said...

Nope -- got laid off from my advertising job (writer), now freelancing, making half my old income. Work is coming, but it's slow. Haven't given up hope though. Living frugally (eating at home almost exclusively as opposed to our previous lifestyle, ha) but not direly.

Anonymous said...

I'm 23 and live in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan (48220)which is an area that has been hit hard with the Big 3 (auto companies) being stationed here. I'm fairing well at the moment. I graduated in December with my BFA and I was offered full-time at my non-profit art center job which is very lucky. I am now miserable at my job (horrible boss) and would do anything to switch jobs, but there are hardly any out there. My boyfriend is in sales and is doing better this year than last. I feel guilty for wanting to quit my job when so many friends and family members have lost their jobs or homes. I fear that I will lose my job anyway in the next year because funding for the arts in Michigan is going right out the window. These are some scary times.

SheriB said...

I live in Marin County (north of the Golden Gate Bridge). I work for a software company, as does my boyfriend. Our salaries are frozen, so no worse than before, and our stock is down which means we can buy more shares, so that's kind of good. I've just worked hard to pay off some minor credit card debt and have been socking it away. So, I guess I'm better off because I'm being more responsible with the same amount of money.

Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I live in the NYC region, and I work in the financial industry. My husband and I bought a house in October 2008 -- a fixer-upper (meaning we're pretty in debt with fixing things up). We borrowed money before stocks crashed in mid-Oct/Nov.

In my financial firm, I received a raise and a promotion in January. 2 weeks later my boss was laid off, along with hundreds of others.

Guilt? Yes and no. Lucky? Absolutely indeed yes. Are we cutting back? Yes and no. We have a new house, with new house expenses. So our budget is extremely different than it was a year ago. However are we curbing our spending any more now? No, not really. In fact, with the house repairs, we're spending a lot more.

Am I worried? I'm blind and hopeful that our good fortune continues. If one of us lost our job, we would hurt but be OK.

Again, guilt? Not really. Compassion and condolences for my friends and others who are suffering? Absolutely yes.

Anonymous said...

Zip 11226. Money holding out. Husband has been crunching numbers to clear up our debts (he's amazing good at this). We eat at home much more often now, but other than that, nothing much has changed. We didn't spend much in the first place, but didn't save much either (go figure). City apartment, house in country, neither in great shape, but now I don't worry so much about them or how they look. One child. One dog. Two cats. Health good for all (knock wood).

Anonymous said...

Things are leveling off a bit, but we are not in the clear yet. I have to disagree with one from San Francisco who says the city has been untouched by the downturn.
Our restaurant businesses in different parts of the city are down 35% from last year. Our tenant, ((IP attorney) of 5 years, who always paid his rent on time, is 3-4 weeks behind since his clients are taking 60 days rather than 30 to pay him. The amount of financial aid requests for private high school was reported up by 40% - in this town high school tuition hovers around $30,000.

kassy said...

98117. 20% of my department at the UW just got laid off and my landlord is considering selling my house. Financially I'm about the same as last year, but mentally I'm toast.

5th and State said...

60134. my landscape biz. is better than ever but i have a good team and we work it. have not laid anyone off and most received raises.

guilty? no, out doing my part by shopping especially local and small businesses

Anonymous said...

Central IL here. My husband (engineer) and I (secretary) have been married for a year, but we're in the best shape ever. I really feel like God has blessed us because people around us (including family) have had financial pains, but thanks to a tightwad lifestyle and many blessings we are doing great.

Sometimes I feel guilty but when I realize how frugal we are and how closely we budget our money compared to our friends and family with financial problems, the guilt goes away. At this point we could be unemployed for close to a year without having any issue.

We do try to help others out - friends, family, others - with donations or tips on jobs or whatever we can, but sometimes people have to help themselves out too.

I do love Decorno because I get to see photos of things I'll probably never own - we're too frugal for it. =)

Thanks for these great conversations.

erin said...

We're in a suburb of Houston (77581), and we're doing better than we were last year. Husband moved on from his soul-crushing retail sales job to doing graphic design for a local sign and printing shop. He's much happier, and got a $2/hr raise. He also teaches guitar lessons and leads worship at our church. He's acquired a lot of new students in the last year, and our church has also given him a small raise. All together, his income has increased pretty significantly.

I teach at a tiny private school, and I'm getting a raise for next school year, though it's a miniscule one by most people's standards.

Do I have survivor's guilt? Not really. We still don't make very much money, and I make a lot less than I would if I worked at a public school. But I'm certainly very thankful that we've been blessed as much as we have.

Perhaps I'd feel more guilt if I personally knew more people who had been severely affected by the economic downturn, though. I think our area has managed to remain fairly stable relative to the rest of the country.

hunkate said...

We're probably doing about the same.
My husband and I were teaching in Taiwan last year after graduating May '07. We were making about 2k each per month. Mom kept saying we should stay there as the economy was crashing here and jobs were hard to find, but we were done with Asia.
Cost of living over there was very cheap but we had no savings thanks to the 1k airfare home. The two-week vacation in Thailand was worth it, though.
(back to the US in July '08, married Oct '08)
We're both working in restaurants here in Baltimore now (it's what we know) and I have 3k in savings, he has less (pays $700/mo in student loans). I make good money at work and there are benefits I could enroll in, but the slow season approaches and do we really want to stay in Bmore another year or more?
We decided to keep up the travel life (France, Prague, Taiwan...) and are moving to the USVI in August after saving up some money and getting tourism/restaurant/outdoor adventure jobs down there.
If you're not happy, why continue on the same path? There are always ways to do what makes you happy. And traveling makes me happy.
We're in our mid-20s and will we be able to live this way later? Who knows. That's why we do it now.

Open your eyes and look within...are you satisfied with the life you're living? -bob marley, exodus.

Anonymous said...

Toronto. I'm doing about the same as last year. Well, maybe slightly worse since my house value has dropped, prices on stuff like heating and electricity have jumped and my stocks are down.

But, I kept most of my money liquid, knowing that this day was coming, so now I'm buying lots of shares in companies that are way, way undervalued. And I'm travelling lots: easier to find good deals these days. If anything, I was spending far less during the boom times because I was so disgusted by everyone around me flaunting their new stuff.

I don't personally know a single soul who has lost his/her job and by looking around the airports (teeming with families over spring break), restaurants and even my street (3 houses getting major renovations) I wouldn't know that times are bad.

That being said, I read that our local charities are being strained so I've increased my giving this year. I don't feel an ounce of guilt but I do feel a great deal of responsibility to help out those who are hurting.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Japan from Ireland in the summer of last year, leaving a stable well-paid job to follow my heart.

Financially I'm better off than I was before, the salary here is lower but my living costs (rent, bills, car, insurance, gas) are zero so I just pay for food.

Also, the Japanese government is taking the unusual step of giving away free money to stimulate the economy - about $150 to all adults and $300 per child under 18.

I do feel guilt, because the economy at home has tanked so badly - way way worse than the US. People with jobs are being taxed out the wazoo and thousands are unemployed with benefits being severely reduced.

However, I'm only on a one-year visa so survival depends on getting the visa renewed. If I don't and have to go back, I'll be unemployed but ineligible for benefits.

Slightly kicking myself.

Kathryn said...

We're definitely in a better situation. I returned to college in Sept last year and work part time. I just got made permanent which means stability for me until I finish college next year. It also means I get health insurance which pays for my everyday health costs which were hard to pay for before. My husband left his job in January, didn't find any work but just this week got his old job back. We have moved into my brother's house while he is away which means 1/2 the rent and way more space. We never bought into the life that so many people my age (28) and my brother's age (32) bought into here in Ireland. People spent insane amounts of money on over priced houses full of expensive furniture, shopping trips to Dubai, living beyond their means all on credit. Now those people are sitting in houses worth up to 50% less than what paid without any savings to see them through the bad times because they spent it on crap.

Do I feel sorry for them? No, I feel sorry for the people the Celtic Tiger completely bypassed who are now being stung by new taxes on their minimum wage jobs or special needs kids whose educational programs are being cut because there is no money left. Sorry for the rant, its just very frustrating living in Ireland at the moment!

Lolo said...

Yes but we were starting over from our respective divorces and my fiance uprooted himself from Detroit (phew) and started a new profession so at this point we both holding our breaths. We live in 19610, he's making slow but seemingly steady headway in commercial real estate and I'm a SAHM who would be pretty much unemployable after years out of the job market. This area has been struggling for the past ten years and the major employer of any note is the local hospital, which has just laid off 250 employees.

There's been a definite uptick in 750K plus houses sitting on the market. The ones in the 100 to 300K range are moving briskly though and the local contractors (damn their shoddy eyes) are booked for months forward. We have a huge population of hispanics from the DR and PR and the city's safety net is tattered to bits, the food banks are struggling and the police force is incredibly overworked and underfunded. However, there is no shortage of second homes at the shore, luxury SUVs at the bus stop and tons of landscaping materials trucked in this spring. The poor get more desperate the middle class is either comfy or moving out.

No guilt but wish we had pots of money with which to fund new ventures of friends who have been downsized into jobs they hate.

Barbara said...

We live in DC 20015. The economy here is held up by the federal government, law and lobbying firms, international organizations, universities, etc., so employment is pretty stable. The election lifted spirits in Washington and there is real energy about solving big problems. Hope this will eventually help the rest of the country!

Averill said...

My husband and I live in Houston and both work in the energy industry (he's an engineer with a large oil field services company and I'm an attorney at a large power company). Psychologically, I think my husband and I are worse off, though that's led to a marked uptick in our savings (a good thing, to be sure). In reality though, we're the same or better than where we were last year -- we're both still employed and both got our full bonuses and the standard annual raises. If the prices on oil and (particularly) NG can come back, we'll be OK.

Diana Obando said...

I am doing better this year than the previous year, thank God!... Also, I have cut my expenses waaaay down, thinking of saving every penny!...Dominican Republic.

Richie Designs said...

start your own blog- awesome come back!

worse off, advertising...just laid off a couple weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

We live in the North Shore outside of Chicago. For years we worked very hard and did very well, we saved and scrimped. We built a beautiful house, moved in with trepidation. My husband's real estate based company was slowing down. His clients lost their businesses and couldn't pay his fees. Flash forward 2 years and he has lost 90% of his business. We've used up all of our savings and cashed in our 401ks. Every month is a struggle to make the mortgage, the other bills simply aren't paid. We know so many who have lost their jobs and homes. Good hardworking people who can't provide for their families and are to embarrassed to let anyone know. There is nothing like buying groceries for a family living in a 1.3 million dollar house they can't sell.

CitiPearl said...

I have the same job as I did last year, except that last year I wanted desperately to find a new job and this year I'm just glad to have one! My finances are still a wreck, but I'm less stressed out about them (since it's not just me in this boat) -- paying things as I can, but not freaking out about my (rotten) credit score. I'm not planning to borrow money any time soon anyway! Just lowering my expectations and muddling along -- saving dreams for a later date.

CitiPearl said...

P.S. Two years ago is when I lost my condo, then my job, then my car, and had to move "home" so I wouldn't be home-less (and I'm over 50!) and rented a room in an apartment from someone twenty years younger than I am. So are things are "improving" this year, but maybe only because they were so bad before? What a world.

Ms. Pea said...

I'm doing better. Got a promotion & raise last fall, which was nice. My company is not giving raises this year, so I got in under the wire. I'm just a plain workin' girl, not an executive type, so my lifestyle is simple. Paid off some bills with my tax return this year, so I have a little extra to spend/save each month. The economy doesn't scare me. When you got (next to)nothin', you got (next to)nothin' to lose.

Anonymous said...

doing a little worse than last year: salary's a little lower, house is worth less but same old mortgage. Not feeling the pinch right now, but sympathizing with friends who are; lots are worried about losing their jobs.
Doing better at not using credit cards: am bringing down the balance. Definitely trying to be more frugal. I'm a doctor in massachusetts.

CitiPearl said...

Mrs. Pea:

I say things like what you've said, (got nothing and nothing to lose) then find out that it's painful when you lose even more! I find I can live with "less" but like having a roof over my head, food, electricity, hot water, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing better than last year -- recently got a great promotion with a significant pay raise. And, here's the shocker, I work in development/fundraising for a non-profit organization! However, I live in Maine -- not in most people's top ten of places to move to. All that being said, I'm still trying to curb expenses where I can while still buying what I need and a few things I want. I don't feel any survivor's guilt at all, not one bit.

Anonymous said...

NYC, worked as an Interior design assistant until I was laid off in Nov. 08. I took it hard. my husband was self-employed not doing well.
I am now working doing what i love, not getting paid, but I am happier now then I ever was. My husband is working for a really good company and things seem to be getting better.

Katie said...

I'm very lucky to be young while this is all happening. I have no real expenses outside of basic living and some small student loans. I have a job in research (scientific), and the industry doesn't seem to be feeling the pinch quite as much as others. It's a temporary job though, until I go to grad school, and I make very little... but it's enough to pay the bills, save a bit, and spend a bit. But I feel lucky in this economy... I haven't had to move back with my parents like a lot of my friends, who haven't been able to find/keep jobs.

Anonymous said...

Virginia 23454 In some ways we are better off and in some ways, not so much. My husband is a retired naval officer, so his retirment is secure. He's in his mid 50's, works for the government and just received a promotion and a good raise. Our yearly income has never been better. Two of our children have graduated from college and we have one more to finish educating. Three more years of college left for him. I don't work outside our home and don't have any plans to. However, our house has lost about 100K in value from this time last year and our 401K has tanked. We don't feel that we have that much time left for things to come back. It's weird to think that my husband may only work for another 10-13 years before retirement. With all this said, life is good. The days of caring about keeping up with the Jones's are over for us. We've achieved so many of our dreams, have a beautiful home that we've lived happily in for 25 years, have watched two children graduate from college and go on to successful relationships and careers. We're caring for elderly parents and trying to stop and smell the roses a bit.

chunnym said...

My husband and I are doing better. We aren't making more money (both in education) but, with restaurants and stores wanting business we are able to be spending less. Our home is worth less than it was a few years ago (we are in California) but, our home is still worth a lot more than it was when we built it 8 years ago.

Anonymous said...

94117. I'm surprised someone would say San Francisco hasn't been affected by the recession. I walked by my nail salon today- high end, usually completely booked- and it was dead empty. I am a well established, successful freelance stylist. I have been busy for years and now have worked just two weeks in the last six months. I was finally ready to meet the challenge of buying a place in this insanely expensive town (as a single girl) and have now been living off of my down payment, which is almost gone. Clients are taking six months to pay or are not paying at all.

On the bright side- less shopping anxiety, and much more time for hanging with all of my friends, who also have tons of free time. Instead of crowded, expensive restaurants we are sipping wine around kitchen tables. Honestly, it reminds me of younger days when we were all broke and happy. I'm trying to relish this time- spending days at the beach, sleeping like a baby because my head is not spinning with work details.. The recession has taken my cash but I won't let it take this time out of my life.

BTW- "I don't work for you. Start your own blog." This is why we love you, D.

Lise said...

My husband and I are both engineers in Alaska and doing much better this year than last. There is so much stimulus money running around after shovel ready projects that clients all want their buildings designed now now now. I know it will die down eventually, but right now its overwhelming. I know the construction field is hurting in many parts of the US, especially new housing, but infrastructure, government and military are going gangbusters.

Anonymous said...

I live in Tel Aviv, Israel right now (moved here from NY 2 years ago). It's split. I got fired in December and have now accepted a very low paying, part time, lame job. My husband, however received a pay increase. We both work in high tech. I obviously don't feel guilty... just hoping my husband will keep his job until it's time for us to move back to NY. :)

...love Maegan said...

we aren't necessarily doing better but we're not too much worse either. ...still waiting for the housing market to really bottom out though.

Anonymous said...

I went from $50k last year, to unemployment as of February. I am fortunate enough to be able to live off my unemployment without sacrificing anything...I refuse to touch my savings and I still budget for savings on unemployment.
I am a single male living in Peru, Indiana.
I am doing better now because I have more time to spend with my two year old nephew(see him everyday) and my two teenage nieces(same)
I have also been able to get all the little odd jobs done around my house that I did not have time for when I was working.(REDECORATING!)
I had bought all the materials last year just had them stashed aside.
It has been hard to keep a positive attitude and not panick, and even though I have been directly affected by the economic slowdown I know it won't last forever...I am glad to hear that some people have not been affected...So yes I am definetly doing better now than last year.

Ladies said...

Brooklyn NY. My partner and I are doing worse. I'm in media sales and she sells real estate, probably the worst things you could do here right now. I'm currently living off of savings. I'm grateful and blessed that I even have them. I pay my mortgage as well as my mother's; its been tough.

The good news-I've been cooking since January and its been great entertaining at home. We spend more time with our friends. We spend more time together taking walks. We were supposed to get married this year; as a result of not having a budget, we're considering really great alternatives. We're also thinking about relocating. Maybe we'll check out Seattle.

niabassett said...

My husband and I are doing a little worse this year. My job is stable, but his company - although one of the top companies to work for in their field – is regulating mandatory vacations and 5% pay cuts across the board. We just bought a house a year ago so keeping the spending down is almost impossible. Also, we just can't turn down the incredible airline deals that have come our way.

Christina said...

Tacoma, WA 98404. Doing much better this year due to getting a steady job last fall after many years of temping it. I also lowered my cost of living by moving from Seattle to Tacoma and getting a job 2 miles from my house. I am not rich but would now be in the 30-35k range instead of the 25-30. I have stopped buying non-thrifted clothes but otherwise my spending habits haven't changed much. Yay! Paying off debt!

Anonymous said...

We're doing way better. Hubby got a 15K raise, plus another 12K in adjustments to a pension he recieves. And I, formerly a stay-at-home, got a job at 30K. So compared to this time last year, we're up 57K. We'll be debt free in 2 years, not counting the house.

We live in 15% unemployment Michigan. Weird, huh?