Are you really worse off than a year or two ago?

United States
September 27, 2008 2:01pm CST
Before you rush to answer, "YES!!!" I hope you'll think about it. I think we're much better off because even though we have to think about purchases more than we did before, that's actually a good thing. We don't need to collect a bunch of "stuff" to be happy. Even though we have to think about wasting gas, that's a good thing too. We're planning our lives and car trips more carefully, which ends up in us having more time to do other things that ARE important - like maintaining family relations and friendships. I thought about this the other day when, on another forum, the question was asked, "Where do you live and how's the economy there? Are you better or worse off than a year ago?" Here's how I answered: The only thing I really hate about where I live is the weather. I swore I'd never move north again, but here I am. Yuck. But we're no worse off this year than we were last or the year before that or the year before that. Some prices have gone up - like gas and some foods - but my hubby got his "normal" raise again this year. He works for a company that has been in business for 100 years and has never laid anyone off. If times are tougher at his company, they put a freeze on hiring. But they still give raises and they still give bonuses right before Thanksgiving (with a half day off for shopping). And even at his age (60), his company still provides learning opportunities, allows him to do some studying during his work hours, and gives him $50 when he has completed a class. Sunday's newspaper had only about 15 pages of jobs, instead of the usual 20-25. But there are still jobs in each category - accounting, professional, managerial, administrative, engineering, manufacturing, transportation, customer service, healthcare, sales, retail, and general. We live in a township near a big city, and our little part of the world has seen the township build a new facility in the past year that will host all sorts of acitivities. The doctor group we used moved into a new, larger facility. There have been no businesses closed in this community in the past 2 years. There is a new movie theater planned for opening in 2009 with 10 movie screens. We also have a new bike trail that we haven't yet had the opportunity to use. None of my neighbors are unemployed, unless they choose to be or are disabled. (We discovered more about our neighbors when we were without power for 100 hours after Ike came through.) It's a pretty nice place to be, except that we're expecting more power outages with the usual Autumn rain storms and winter snow storms...since Ike weakened trees that didn't come down with the storm. Oh yeah, and hubby's company has started paying carpoolers. He's in a carpool of 3 guys from his office. They take turns driving. And the company provides a covered parking place in their new parking garage, close to the elevator, for carpoolers. And they get paid $2 per person each way per day.
2 people like this
12 responses
• United States
27 Sep 08
If it were just the difference between "i used to spend $100 on clothes, now I only spend $25" then I wouldn't say I even cared. But when it comes to "can I eat this week?" or "can I afford to go to the doctor?" then it's serious. Economic hardship isn't just about not being able to accumulate "stuff" or saving gas by spending "family time", it's serious. Living costs money. And sitting at home all day everyday is really boring. Cabin fever sucks.
2 people like this
• United States
27 Sep 08
Oh, I agree that there are problems. I've been almost homeless myself. But even in those times I was able to find some piece of my life that was better each year. It concerns me most when people seem to be so down about the economy that they lose track of the things that are still good - like family and friends, perhaps.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Sep 08
Well, not everyone has good things in their lives and the economy just makes things worse.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Sep 08
I'm sorry, Gloom. I've never been able to be a gloomy person. Even when I spent a month in a women's shelter for abused women, I found something each day for which to be thankful. I guess that's just me.
@xParanoiax (6997)
• United States
28 Sep 08
It depends what on. My mental health is much better than it used to be. My life could find solid ground for once finally. I know more now, that I feel better about weathering the current economic circumstances and building my own life. My family's SLIGHTLY better off in the financial sense, as well. Though that's kinda shaky in itself. Mind, alot of my life has sucked. But I feel that, that's all prepared me for how things stand today. I know what I have to, so that I have less to worry about my own personal survival. I feel like I may be one of the only ones who thinks that maybe the future...as dark as it is, might hold more for me than the world I grew up in had for me. Which I don't consider depressing, because I've always felt like I was born in the wrong time period. We've never been able to buy whatever we've wanted, we've always had to worry about bills and food..and whether or not we'd be homeless. The odds are extremely different today for us personally than if this all had happened say...four years ago. Life isn't stuff, it isn't money, it isn't even the comfort of stability. Life is the appreciation of the world around us, of the beautiful and wonderful things, of what we do have. A world where everyone thinks money, stuff matters...that demands I seek out these things constantly until my back breaks isn't a world for me. A world where I can make my own future with my hands and my mind? (Which is, what I believe the future is)...this is a world I'll do more than simply survive, I'll truly be able to live. My thinking outside the box will be seen as wonderful instead of fringe, or crazy. Maybe, just maybe, this means that by time I'm old I can die in peace. I don't know, I'm not saying that the potential for bad that this...well what's happening and could happen economically, won't be that bad. I expect it to be very horrible, actually. I just have so much hope anyway. Mind you, local economy is flat. Hardly any jobs about, especially for young people like me. Businesses are just holding on. Movie theatres waning. Stores struggling because people can hardly afford waaay over half the crap they sell. And although this area we're presently in is a city, it's not a big one and it's surrounded by a very rural area -- what do you expect from a farm state? But I have all the faith that people will fill in the gaps. There's land here, we can grow things. We can scrounge and we can make things with our hands that people need. This is what our economy was largely lacking for a long time, it makes sense that since we need it most, this will be our saving grace. *Laughs* Like I said, I expect it to be downright horrible, but I have so much hope.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Sep 08
I guess I should add my biggest worries though, huh? See, it's my tendency to worry for others over myself even when there is cause to worry for myself -- and trust me, I have plenty of that lol. My worry is that the circumstances won't favor people enough for them to weather this as well as they need. Those who weren't doing well to begin with, like my own family, are the ones I worry about the most. They became homeless this year, experienced hardships some of us might not even be able to imagine...all sorts of things which detract from the potential laying before them which could help them, save them from the darkness of these troubled times. My worry is, that I'll only be able to take care of myself and those close to me. This could very well possibly, kill my hope. I need to be able to help people. If I can't help, what use is there really in the first place? So that's part of why I'm working on building my own future. Not only because if I succeed I could help those who're close to being in a situation like those who hit bottom before the rest of us, but also because of those who hit bottom first. We all need eachother now more than ever.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Sep 08
I'm glad you still have hope. That's what we're all going to have to have if we're going to survive. My pastor pointed out this morning that even though the U.S. is going through a financial crisis right now, we're still among the top 80% of the richest countries in the world. You mentioned how we're going to have to help each other. I think that's a lesson we're supposed to be learning right now.
• United States
28 Sep 08
Sad thing that our lessons have to be hard ones sometimes, huh? I'm pretty sure people will learn it a little more quickly than they might've otherwise though. So that's good at least. ^_^
1 person likes this
@sedel1027 (17854)
• United States
28 Sep 08
In a lot of ways were are worse off, but it is more thing we did to ourselves I think more than the economy. Last year we were in a smaller, not so nice apartment. This year we have a nice place to live, but when hard time hit - like DH just lost his job - we take a major hit because we pay more rent.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Sep 08
It's hard to know when to move (and increase space) and when to stay put, isn't it? One lady in our church teases that she and her husband (and their 4 children - one now in college) have lived in their "starter home" for 20 years. On one hand, she has been sorry that they had such cramped space while the girls were in middle school and high school. But on the other hand, she's thinking that at least they won't have to consider down-sizing their home when the kids move out on their own or when they retire. Lucky for them, their home will be paid off before either one reaches 50.
@sedel1027 (17854)
• United States
29 Sep 08
My parents were in the same house 30+ years and had it paid off way before the loan wa sup. They had a 3 bedroom and 2 kids, about 1700 sqft and whenever really felt cramped. If we had a house we wouldn't move like we do, renting is a pain but we have the freedom to move.
@Ithink (10488)
• United States
28 Sep 08
We are worse off and have never just boughten stuff, as it was put. We have always had family time but with the economy going as it is, gas, food, ect. some really do find it a hardship. Not to say we arent holding our own but not doing as good as last year. My husband has been promoted and is getting promoted again, however he hasnt had a raise in 2 years. They say they just cant afford it and of course at least he is still working, but with 5 kids in the house it is tighter. Mind you Im not really complaining as we are together and getting thru, but it would be nice to even pay bills totally and have gas money without shorting a bill or two.
• United States
28 Sep 08
It has always bothered me when companies offer promotions without raises. That's so unfair. One company I heard of a few weeks ago was doing that, but givig its employees IOUs for raises when things change financially. At least that was something.
@sandra966 (269)
• Spain
27 Sep 08
Well where we live, everyone is getting laid off. I was made redundant last year - sadly without a redundancy payment, and still have not found another job yet. My husband survived two rounds of redundancies, to be caught up in the third. There are no similar jobs for him here, and it looks as if he will have to move to the UK to get a similar job with the same money. We were trying to buy a flat, but now, due to a number of factors, we no longer have the deposit we had and the chances of saving for another one is slim. We are both extremely depressed at the moment. Lots of things have had to stop. The kids used to have ballet lessons and extra language lessons - these have all had to stop in September. It's hard - every month, we go deeper into debt. Is there anything that is going better this year than last? Well I had a health scare earlier in the year, but have now been given the all clear, so healthwise, I'm ok. We're trying to be positive, but when you see all of your friends move away because they have no job or prospects here, it's difficult.
• United States
28 Sep 08
I'm sorry it's difficult for you now. But I am glad that you've been given the all clear healthwise. That's definitely a positive.
@shell94 (990)
• Canada
27 Sep 08
I am far worse off financially this year. My husband is not able to work right now and it's hard to make things stretch on one pay cheque. My redlationships within my family have improved drastically as I have met and been in close contact with my sisters after many years of absolutely none at all. It really sucks not having the money these days but the relationships are incredible.
• United States
28 Sep 08
You know, that's exactly what our pastor talked about today. That although the economy is not good, we should be concentrating on what is really important - our relationships with loved ones, friends, and with God. I think what has helped me - when I was a single mom and even now when unexpected expenses come up (like the electrical damage when Ike came through) and it causes us to have to eat cheap hot dogs and ramen noddles for a while - was that that years ago, I published a newsletter about frugal living. I learned so much from other people about living frugally that even when we're doing fairly well financially, I still incorporate many of those frugal ideas.
@lexus54 (3576)
• Singapore
28 Sep 08
I would say that financially I am slightly worse off than a year ago. I depend very much on my investments and gains from the stock market for my earnings. My past few years had been pretty good, because the market was quite bullish. But these past year, since around the middle of last year when the sub-prime issues started to appear and rocked the financial world, the stock markets had been having a roller-coaster ride and that has affected my earnings quite substantially. Inflation has also shot up quite significantly in the past months, after the price of gasoline shot through the roof; so overall the price increases had made a negative impact on our spending. This double whammy of less earnings and increased spending certainly don't make for a very good year for me, although I can still get by comfortably enough.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Sep 08
Those subprime mortgages are affecting everyone, aren't they? As I heard Glenn Beck explain, they were forced on many banks and mortgage companies...else they be called racist for not providing them. I've known people who bought houses who never should have, or if they did should have purchased smaller ones. They didn't have to provide any proof of income nor were there credit checks done. That's absurd. Those same families are trying to put 1/2 of their income into housing...and it's no wonder that hasn't worked out. The "rule" used to be that no more than 1/4 of one's income should be for housing.
@lexus54 (3576)
• Singapore
29 Sep 08
If I remember right, the subprime mortgage issues for the home-buyers in a sense arose because of the easy credit available which led to many people buying property in the past years, and also the way the loans were structured with initial low interest which allowed them to have easy paybacks in the early years of their mortgage loans, and when the higher repayments kicked in in the subsequent years, many defaulted because they realized they couldn't afford to pay. The poorer economy didn't help things either.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Sep 08
Loans should never be given without checking credit ratings and income. And I'm not sure that allowing 0% down was a good idea - for morgtages or for anything else. My husband had to take a horrible loans when he and his ex divorced. She had run up his credit cards so much that it reduced his credit rating when he couldn't pay them all on time. But he needed the mortgage to be in his name only. The horrible thing about his loan was that you could not refinance it do so without a huge penalty for THREE YEARS! Then when the 3 years was up, the price of houses was down and he owed more than the house was worth. So, he had to stay with the original mortgage company. And the payments went from $850 a month to almost $1200!
@angela38 (122)
• United States
29 Sep 08
I for one think it a great thing to car pool and the fact that the place you l.ive has so much comming in to being tells me that the econimy in that state is not as bad as it is in some places. Some places they say that it is manditory to take one day a month off without pay. The business say it is to save money in the company. The fact that your husband gets pay for classes and car pools an d thew bonuses says that things in the company are doing great in your area. That is a smart thing for the company to do. It boost marale and keeps everyone happy. I am also pleased that during Ike that came through your area that some have learnec that money is not everything. It is High time that the world put famnily first before big business.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Sep 08
Thanks, Angela. Things are pretty good here. I forgot to share that his company also rewarded those who came to work the Monday after Ike hit. They're giving anyone who came to work that day 1/2 day of vacation anytime between now and the end of the year.
1 person likes this
@angela38 (122)
• United States
30 Sep 08
In my reading of the things that went on in the Ike Disaster it amazed me just how much things changed for some people in a good light. Not always does that happen. A lot of the time some can look on something like that as the thing that destroyed them and then at times it can make everyone come togeter as one and have a great additude about things I am glad to see that it happened for the ones hit in the Ohio area.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Oct 08
Unfortunately I would have to say that we are worse off than we were 2 years ago. We had our own house, both my husband and I were working and we were making it okay. But we lost our jobs both within a 2 month period, and lost our house to foreclosure. We had to move into a much smaller apartment and start fresh. I have many friends who have lost their jobs and can't find even minimum wage jobs in my area. My parents are loosing their house of almost 20 years to forclosure if they can't get it sold, and no one is buying! I really think that the area you live in makes a huge difference in how you are effected by the economy and rising prices. Here in my part of ohio we are feeling all of it pretty hard. Our unemployment rates are outrageous! On a lighter note..... One good thing that came out of that misfortune was that when we moved we switched school districts and I am much happier with the curriculum and the special needs programs that they offer here. My sons have also became involved in boyscouts and we have met some wonderful people from there.
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Oct 08
I'm sorry things have been tough for you, but I rejoice with you about the difference in school districts. When I was researching the economy and jobless figures, I was amazed at the differnces all over the US. Like that South Dakota has only 3.1% unemployment rate.
@zhuuraan (967)
• United States
28 Sep 08
In a word, yes I am worse off and no I am not. I am not living with my mom anymore, which is better, but I am still on SSI and that has not gotten any better. In fact, from what I hear it's supposed to get even worse. So, I envy you and any others who say it's better for you because I can honestly say that it is not for me.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Sep 08
I'm sorry things aren't better for you, zhuuraan. I hope they will get better.
@Laura84 (191)
28 Sep 08
I am better off now than I was this time last year. That's because I have a better job which pays more and I have more money in the bank.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Sep 08
I'm glad you're doing better, Laura84.
@jerzgirl (8058)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
28 Sep 08
I can see what you're talking about and I'm sure in many ways, the forced changes are better for us. But, I was employed a year ago and I'm not now, so I can honestly say that I AM worse off. I am now on an unemployment extension, so I've been unemployed for over 6 months. A friend of mine has been unemployed for over 8 months and she's got many more marketable skills than I do. It may be better overall that we not spend, spend, spend and forgo luxuries (which we have come to accept as entitlements), but as a nation, we are worse off, I think.
• United States
28 Sep 08
What's confusing, to me at least, is that while the country's unemployment rate hit 6.1% in August, there are states with as little as 3%. I'm sorry you haven't been able to find work.