I don’t really buy it. For the past year or so, everyone seems to be hung up on how “bad” the economy is and how they’re “making ends meet.” You especially tend to hear this about middle-class suburban people.
Why? How are things “tighter” for them “because of the economy?”
I don’t really buy it. I was broke before the craziness of the past year, and I’m still broke, but my lifestyle and general expenses haven’t changed one bit. Sure, groceries are a little bit more expensive, but that’s about it. Nothing really feels different to me other than a bunch of people seem to think that they’re suddenly way worse off than they were before and can’t shut up about how “tight” things have gotten.
Is it just gas? Is this suburban two-car commuting families where mom and dad are paying a ton more just to get around everywhere, because everything is sprawl? I live carless in a city, so I don’t really get hit by that. The bus and train are fine for me.
For the record, I understand that things like retirement and investments may be fluctuating like crazy, but that’s not “things getting tighter” or influencing take-home pay or day-to-day lifestyle.
Yes, things are MUCH tighter for us. Gas is part of it, as are groceries. Most people have a pretty tight budget that doesn’t allow for a lot of extras anyway. When things that you have to buy increase in price by as much as gas and groceries have been increasing - you feel it.
The industry I work in, advertising, is getting beat to hell due to the economy. Companies are hurting and can’t afford to spend as much money on advertising, so people in my industry - including myself - are getting laid off right to left.
I got laid off due to the economy - plain and simple. I’m still collecting severance so the layoff hasn’t affected our budget yet, but it will soon enough.
You say you take the bus and train, expect rate hikes and route cutbacks soon if you haven’t had them already. The economy effects everyone.
A lot of what’s happening w/ the economy hasn’t even “trickled down” to the average person yet.
I’m pretty much with the OP, but I realize I am kind of an exception. I have little debt, no investment, little savings, a stable job, and love renting. My only debt is a small car loan from a solid bank that so far isn’t affected (USAA … fight my ignorance, but they seem to be above the fray). The bank I use for checking (WaMu) failed, but it made no difference whatsoever in my life. The only real risk I feel exposed to is three or four steps removed from me. While it is nice that I’m not hit by the Greatest Depression!!1! yet, it might only be because I was ‘depressed’ to begin with
But most important … absolutely key … I have no intention of ever having children. If I did, I’d have to take everything much more personally, and would feel more like my family was being directly screwed.
I’ve somehow managed to lose about $200 a month. I don’t keep very exact budgets or track my spending, but I’ve had the same salary for three years and I am very much aware of my spending limits on an intuitive level. I’ve overdrawn twice in the last six months whereas I hadn’t overdrawn for years and years.
Something sure as hell moved under my feet without my noticing. I’m thinking it is food prices, primarily, though a cigarette tax increase probably didn’t help. (Not gas, as I buy about one 11 gallon tank a month. Prices would have to quadruple before it touched me.) I’ve since cancelled cable and decreased saving in an attempt to maintain my reckless lifestyle.
Things are tighter for me, but not because of the economy. I had some paper losses when my Google and Apple stock tanked. I had intended to sell right about now, and at this point won’t. So I feel that. In terms of my day to day though, things are tighter because of a change in my personal circumstances and for no other reason.
Food is more, gas is more. We don’t use all that much gas, living close-in and convenient as we do. We are OK with the extra food cost. We bought our house 10 years ago, and are still waaay ahead, equity-wise.
My 401k dropped, but I still have time to catch up.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but that one’s a bitch, especially when other people’s fear is dragging you down.
I wish we would stop focusing so intently on all those chickenshit moneychangers. They’ve already been proven incompetent, and we really need to pry their hands off of the controls.
After a mandatory job-related move in 2007, I have been completely unable to sell my house. Not “I can’t get the price I want” – I can’t sell the house. I’ve had three contracts, but all three of them have fallen through (one unable to sell their own house, one unable to get financing, and one crazy person).
In Detroit area there are foreclosed homes in every area. You walk down the street and empty houses are frequent. Restaurants ,theaters, stores, bars .barbershops.etc closed. It is ugly. Good jobs are gone everyday and very little chance of getting a new one. People are depressed. The area is depressed. Most people see little hope. Yes indeed things are tighter.
Yes, I do notice it a lot. All right, perhaps I do not fit into your question, as I am poorer than average, but I can tell you that when what you have is a bit “less”, really, than average, then then more of whatever you have proportionately goes on food and electricity. And I do notice that.
I do certainly notice because these are things I cannot do *very *much about, although certainly I am trying so to do and will continue so to do. Meanwhile a few “disgraced” (heh :rolleyes: ) bankers might be asked to leave their jobs but they will have security of their old salaries to to live on. Or perhaps sell a holiday home or a car. I see that sometimes newspapers run little *vox pop *things asking whether one has cancelled plans for a foreign holiday this year. Eeeeeekk! Foreign holiday? No, that is not my concern. Any holiday at all? Equally not my concern. (Ah, sorry, please read that as “vacation” if you prefer.)
Ah, I think I see that you and I are not so far apart as might have seemed. Yes, your point is quite correct, poor before, and poor now. So I won’t be one of those worrying that they might have to “downsize” - well, not in the sense that one reads about - those are people who are so very shocked they might not be so comfortably off, might have to let the nanny go or some such dread horror. But, the thing is, I **DO **think that the fact that groceries have become more expensive **does **matter. When one is already buying from the supermarket’s “value” range (=cheapest possible) it is a bit tricky to know where to go from there. Oh well, I’ll just remind myself of other times (student times) when there was little food. Difference is, that was always temporary and with a light at the end of the tunnel.
A fair point, and if something will stop those idiots who simply “have” to take their damn 4x4 tank to the supermarket, I’d quite like that.
Yep! That is actually, as you said, just “fluctuating like crazy”. The usual advice - “remember that the value of your investment can go down as well as up”. It may look a bit sad for some folks who thought they had planned enough to be comfortable, but I am more worried about the bottom of the heap. Perhaps the older folks who are now very very seriously worried.
AND, before someone points it out, I do not presume to count myself as the unfortunate bottom of the heap, miserable git though I might be, because I do have my (rented) flat and I am alone with no children to explain to them why they cannot have X or Y for dinner. Nor am I an elderly person who might need more in the way of heat and so on. AND yes, I do have internet, but that is my extravagance, it being as cheap to have internet with the telephone as it is to have only the telephone service. It does instead of daily newspapers and television. SO, just as long as we have got rid of that objection.
You know, I am a nasty enough person to wish (almost, and only a tiny bit almost) that I would still be working for one of those shyster stockbrokers in the Square Mile. A bit of schadenfreude for the arrogance they had.
Really, Freejooky, it’s gonnae hit you too. A few months later, you might get a bit worried about what you are paying to heat your house*, and what you are paying for your basic foodstuffs.
*Wear a cardigan! I do. Obviously that’s always a good look. Although perhaps we call it a Ceredigion nowadays.
Every quarter I run a calculation of our net worth. Everything from a rough value of our home minus the mortgage to the sum of all of our bank accounts, stocks, and IRA’s. No furniture, electronics, autos or jewelry though, I’m not counting up pots and pans.
The last one, done on October 12, showed a $58,843 decrease in my net worth over the last three months. Although I have plenty of money for day to day purchases, that kind of decrease in asset value makes it more difficult to decide to make long term purchases. I have tightened up on purchases as a result.
I definitely feel it. I’m interviewing for second jobs currently just to be able to save money and not spend it all on bills and expenses. My 401k is not tanking terribly, but it’s worth about 2/3 of what it should be. Food prices are up, everything is up. The amount of money I make isn’t piddly but it’s not keeping up. I’m not using as much gas as I was before, and prices have gone down, thankfully. Somehow though, it’s all dwindling. So, I have a couple job offers to consider in the next few days. Cross your fingers for me.
I was laid off last November and went through a series of contract jobs where I had to pay for my own health insurance. So fiscally speaking, I was clobbered 3 ways: commuting costs, commodities costs, and healthcare costs. Even now that I have a job with benefits, my health insurance costs more than what I used to pay at my old job. BTW, my daily commute is less than 30 miles and I drive a Ford Focus. Even with tiny cars, we can feel the hurt gas-wise.
I don’t think the cost of groceries should be dismissed as a small thing. I don’t have any kids, so it’s just me, my husband, my sister, and two cats. And I am very, very careful about what we buy–searching for things on sale while trying to make things healthy. We’re basically getting to the point we’re living off of pasta and rice and groundbeef and it’s still all I can do to keep our weekly bills under $100. I used to be able to get away with $50/week. When your monthly grocery budget literally doubles, things start to get scary. I can only imagine what a factor of 3 kids must do to people who are trying to budget…
That’s pretty much me, except I have a kid (and no car), and I’m feeling it. Food is up. Transportation (mass transit and taxis) is up. Home heating costs are WAAAAY up. A few months ago, my monthly gas bill went up 33%. That’s based on estimated usage, by the way. God forbid we have an especially cold winter.