Anyone else really worried about the Economy? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this topic has been beaten to death. Let me apologize in advance

So I was watching the news last night (I know big mistake), they were talking about the expected increase in gas prices over the summer. The price of everything, when you get right to it, is driven by the price of oil. I just heard a few minutes ago that food prices have increased the largest amount in 18 years.

My husband and I were discussing the changes that we have made in our house including lowering our consumption of oil. I rarely drive outside a 10 mile radius. My husband drives only back and forth to work. We have also been cutting consumption of consumer goods and shopping at the local thrift shop. We wonder how much more we can cut out to meet our budget with the rising costs.

How in the world is a family with a modest income suppose to survive? What are you doing to plan for even harder economic times?

How much longer can the U.S. continue down the path of excessive consumption?

Sorry for the rant.

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#2 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 12:24 AM
 
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I am worried AND I try to live in an abundance mindset. It's not easy though. We loaded up on bulk food, are expanding our garden, getting goats, helping with the local 2 acre community garden, and hoping to God we have the means to get through it.
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#3 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 01:01 AM
 
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i know what you mean. i watched the news for the first time in a while last week and it immidiatly made me jumpy and worried. to much hype!

i don't know how we will survive. i have wondered if i should get a smaller more gas efficient car...but the fact is that unless you can afford a new hybrid that is getting 40+ MPG its almost a moot point to try and trade in a rebuy for the 5-10 mpg that it would save. not to mention that i only use 2 tanks of gas/month. ($100 or less).

as for food....well i don't know. i bought lots of fresh fruits and veggies (kind of a raw diet for weight loss) but didn't buy many meats that i would usually buy. although i bought alot and actually filled my cart it cost me $170 or so when i usually spend $130 or so. so buying "pure" foods isn't always the best for the pocket book. although we aren't the healthiest we could do alot worse...also with a picky ds (who often goes hungry) its hard to find the balance between him eating NOTHING (and getting listless which has happened) and giving him nutritious meals that he does like (of which there are really no MEALS).

we are fortunate to not have high medical payments or copays so that is a blessing. i do worry and wonder what my lifetime will see. what can i do to protect our family? should we consider living in another country for a while that at least has a more stable but higher cost of living or higher taxes? so many questions!!!
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#4 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 01:27 AM
 
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I've been having to really watch what we buy at the store, which honestly I've never had to do before. I now meal plan, buy mostly sale items. I still drive quite a bit, it's impossible not to do when you live out of town. Both DH and I drive newer more fuel efficient cars/vans. I've heard about the economy for months now, watched the food prices rise, etc... but it wasn't until very recently that DH and I felt it personally. DH is self employed, he owns an IT consulting company, business never really slows down, but now it has. He has a wide range of clients, real estate companies, medical offices, oil and gas companies, banks.... many of them are starting to really hurt. The banks are firing workers left and right, the train here is way behind on their bills to us and can't pay, it goes on and on. We'll be fine, DH has enough clients that aren't struggling, but we've started laying off some employees, and will be tightening our belts. It is scary.

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#5 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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I am worried, but then, I was worried in the 1970s also, when I finished college, married, bought a house and started a family. Life goes on. Just be sensible and everything works out.

I also used to talk to my older relatives about living through the Depression.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#6 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 01:33 AM
 
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the economy scares me a whole lot! There rising prices are WAY out of hand in my opinion, we have had a blessing of coming across Dave Ramesy and doing th total money make over. That has helped me learn to budget so much better, but I really think that the big R word is not that far off, and who knows if we will really be prepared for that.
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#7 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 01:44 AM
 
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I think we've been in recession for a long time now and that we're headed toward the next 'Great Depression'. I've been saying this for at least 2 years now.

As for my family, we do what we can. It's getting scary. Our electric bill is past due and is set to be shut off May 7th. I'm due with my first child on May 3rd and quite honestly it scares the living daylights out of me. Our only luxury is the internet. A pp says that life goes on.... life does go on but for my family life might end up being in a box.
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#8 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 05:33 AM
 
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The dramatic increases in the cost of food is what is scaring me. The cost of milk, bread, veggies, rice,etc.
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#9 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 09:20 AM
 
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I seem to be bucking the trend here, as I'm not really worried at all.

Sure groceries have gone up, but I'm a much savvier shopper these days. I started to stockpile a year ago and now just buy things when they are on sale, so those rising costs dont'really affect my food budget. In fact I've cut my food budget of late and still have lots left over.

Gas has gone up, but I don't drive that much that it's caused anything more than sticker shock when the tank is full.

Personally I'm fine with the real estate market falling as it was and still is way over priced.

How much of everyone's discomfort in relation to the news constantly telling you how bad things are?
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#10 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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I'm not as worried about costs of food/gasoline going up as I am the loss/lack of jobs in our area. Not just good paying ones, but ANY. And this has been going on for quite awhile now in my area.
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#11 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 09:58 AM
 
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I haven't been watching the news lately, but I'm still very worried about the economy. Our money not going as far as it used to. When we bought our house in 2001, our monthly budget for gas and electric was $100 -- it is now $175. For gas for our cars, it used to be $75-100/month and is now $200. I don't remember what the food budget was then, but it is certainly up now.

Our house's value has also dropped significantly ($30K or so, still up about $20 k from where we bought it) and we were not in an area that was remarkably overpriced. I don't believe we have seen the bottom of the housing drop, in our area the foreclosures are still rolling in in high numbers (3-5 full pages in the local paper) and those will continue to drive down the prices. We were hoping to move, but won't be able to get enough out of our house to make that possible.

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#12 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 10:16 AM
 
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I see it. I don't watch the news lately, so the hype has little to do with my perception (although I know my mother at least is very susceptible to such hype and I can hear it in my conversations with her). My xh got laid off last week, from a factory job he's worked at for the past ten years. He was a supervisor there, and had many below him on the seniority chain. He was very surprised, and I don't know what someone like him will do now -- he's worked in factories his entire life since high school -- what else is out there for him? Of course, this affects my income because my child support just went kapoot, but we'll still be okay. I've seen the price of food creeping up and I can't believe that the bread I prefer now costs $1.89/loaf.

What kills us is the gas that dh spends getting to work. He has a one way commute of about 50-60 miles, so 100 miles/day, plus weekend out of town excursions usually. He easily puts 800 miles/wk on our van, which already has 175k miles on it. This scares me. Assuming our van gets 25mi/gal (maybe?), that's 32gal/wk of gas, at the current rate (locally) of ~$3.20/gal that's $102.40/wk in gas. Over $400/month. Ouch.
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#13 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 10:25 AM
 
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I'm not really worried, I don't think it's anything like the Great Depression. I think anyone who actually lived through the Great Depression most probably would not even compare then with now, it's not even close. There have been many recessions, but only one Great Depression. Just because we go through a recession doesn't mean it's anywhere near a depression. There will always be areas of the country where people are more economically depressed, but I mean the country as a whole is not that bad.

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#14 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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Yeah, I'm worried about it. While I agree that this is nowhere near the Great Depression (read The Grapes of Wrath if you want to learn about that!), the fact that the prices of so many things are rising at the same time does concern me.

We live in a blue collar city where there have been thousands upon thousands of layoffs. My husband hasn't had steady work in years because it literally doesn't exist here anymore. We know so many people in the same situation. Most of the people who are working in the factories here were laid off and then hired back as "temporary" workers at HALF the previous wages.

We have had to see a steady reduction in our income over the years. And it's possible to learn to get along with less, but--this is SO HARD when the prices of everything are going up at the same time your income is going down! You can only stretch your money so far when EVERYTHING, even basic staples like flour, are rising so quickly. And there doesn't seem to be any end in sight.

We look back on the "good old days" when we were young and had a decent income and food was so cheap, and we think we were idiots to not have saved more!

Now my dh is going back to school, so we will be living off of nothing more than student loans and government benefits for the next three years! I am very, very concerned that we are going to have problems feeding ourselves and our three kids. I think we may have to at least move closer to the college so my dh can ride his bike there and not use gas.

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#15 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 03:22 PM
 
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I think the media is partly to blame for the economy. They put the fear into everyone. People freak and stop spending and that helps cause a recession.

On the other hand, the bright side is that reducing consumption is good for the environment.

Over time, we can hope that the market gets corrected and that this time causes change for the good of all.

The other thing is that the US is a cheap place to visit. The Europeans will start coming and spending money here. US exports will also cost less.

My family lived through the Depression. I think it's irresponsible for the media to predict a Depression. If you say it for years, maybe yeah, it'll happen becuase it was going to anyway.

The Depression has affected my life for my whole life. You know what though? During the Depression, people really helped each other out. They shared. Not everyone owned their own lawn mower. They shared. Not everyone had food. They shared. A lot of bad stuff happened then but so did a lot of good.
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#16 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 03:51 PM
 
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If there is another Great Depression I think it will be a terrible blow because of people not being at all self-sustaining. In the 20s and 30s more people had gardens and animals to provide food for themselves.

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#17 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 03:52 PM
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I find it amusing how many people said they never worried about what they spent before. (Not the funny ha-ha amusing, but the interesting odd kind....)

I have always been concerned with what I spend. In my teens and just before my family was ripped apart by divorce, and my mother, sister(s), and I spent some time homeless. (Across a span of 10 years, probably 2 of it was spent homeless, in several month chunks).

The most miserable years for me were the Clinton administration. (The most time spent homeless). My life has made huge financial gains since 2001. I do not attribute ANY of this to Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or the current president. It was just life circumstances brought on by BAD CHOICES made by my parents, and then better choices made by me.

My husband and I have been making what we feel are very good choices. He choose to take a job (public works) that is not his dream job (farming) because of the benefits and security and transferability. He can do his job in any municipality that offers water systems or street maintenance to its citizens. He gets paid very well (most positions start at $20/hour, even in small towns). He can also do small engine repair (like lawnmowers), and diesel engine repair (tractors and semis).

We've chosen to aggressively pay off our debt, even the low interest, deductable student loan debt, before purchasing a home. We are choosing to save up a significant down payment and purchase a smaller home than what we "can" qualify for, and smaller than what most of our friends feel they need (i.e. one bedroom per child, living room AND family room, a dining room they never use, etc). We are personally hoping that the real estate market continues to contract, because we are looking for a deal when we are ready to buy, and it's going to take us another 2 years.
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#18 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 04:28 PM
 
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I also think that the media is making a huge hype about things, but it does also slow our ever increasing consumption, which in turn is a good thing. I do worry a bit, but much of the worry is about how high things will jump to. I live in an area where we are all pretty dependent on tourists and 2nd home owners, but the building is still happening and the company my DH works for is booked for the year. He also drives a company vehicle, so no gas except for my little car, plus I go to town rarely(20 mile round-trip). One thing for me is we had to tighten our spending before this started happening, we had our DD, I had to quit my job to be a SAHM, and we had to tighten down. I was a spender before, now I(well, we) are trying to become savers, it's been a tough transition and really doesn't have to do with a recession or not. I have learned to be a much better shopper, I did go spend $80 today, but that $80 spent saved us probably close to $40 on groceries because I bought a case of Muir Glen organic tomatoes for $1.99 for the big can, I saved $24 alone on those tomatoes. Burger was on a one day sale, extra lean $1.98 a lb, that's over a 1 off a lb, so I stocked up and got 5 packs. Our freezer is stocked, our pantry keeps getting filled, I pretty much only buy food on sale, today some treats were on sale, soda, chips, so I stocked up.

There are other things that I am trying to do, modifying our mortgage to get a better rate is one, I am in the process of haggling that one, I need to drop a car to save on insurance, I've thought about switching, but I like what we have(plus I think in some ways you get what you pay for). All in all while yes we are in a slumping economy part of me feels richer than we ever have been before, my DH and I have always struggled, but things for us are better than ever. I guess it's just a relative to how you react to an ever changing world.

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#19 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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The whole mess scares me to death. We are barely making it and every week things get tighter and tighter. We dont buy extras or take vacations we buy used we cook from scratch. My Dh graduates in June but a entry level job in his field isnt going to be enough to repay his student loans and housing. We are facing the real possibility of becoming homeless in the next 90 days.
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#20 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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I am concerned for everyone as a whole and mindful of being frugal and storing food but I am not really worried because we live frugally, grow and preserve some of our own food, and have very, very secure employment.

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#21 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 04:59 PM
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One thing for me is we had to tighten our spending before this started happening, we had our DD, I had to quit my job to be a SAHM, and we had to tighten down. I was a spender before, now I(well, we) are trying to become savers, it's been a tough transition and really doesn't have to do with a recession or not.
This is very similar to my experience. I thought was a SHOPPER. I would go to Lane Bryant with my best friend and we'd each spend about $200. But after I got married and moved away from my shopper best friend, I realized that SHE is the shopper and I am just a total enabler and am easily influenced by others moods. I used to walk into a store and want one of everything. Now, my husband will ask if I want to go to Lane Bryant, and I can't even come out of there with 3 items (except the time I bought undies 5 for $25). Nothing really appeals to me. I'm happy now and I don't need to buy things to self medicate.

It's just a coincidence that this coincides with the recession that may or may not be coming.
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#22 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 05:04 PM
 
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i worry about the cost of things going up...but the big worry for me is my husband is in the architectural business and we've seen a huge slowing down of custom built homes. he's taking on side jobs now as we just aren't making enough with his current salary and i won't be working this summer (i take care of 2 little girls during the day, but their "nanny" comes home from college the end of may so i won't have them back until end of august). i'm trying to find ways to make some extra money so we can get back on track. we are in alot of debt right now and trying to dig out..

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#23 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 07:35 PM
 
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I've lived through recessions before. Both my parents and my ILs lived through the Depression. The economy will always be cyclic. Personally, we are in more secure situations employment wise than in past recessions.

As for energy prices, it's inevitable. My dad was an engineer in the energy field, and this stuff was dinner table conversation at least three nights a week. Oil is a finite resource. We need to develop alternative energy sources. No matter what we do, energy is going to continue to take a bigger chunk out of everyone's budget for the forseeable future, because alternative energy will not be as cheap or abundant as oil used to be. And as the population continues to increase the situation will only get worse.

How many of us even here drive big, gas guzzling SUVs and minivans? We have this mindset that we must have these gigantic vehicles and that we can in no way change our lifestyles so that they aren't "needed." Yes, sometimes those decisions are hard to make and they mean that we must make some sacrifices, but it's what needs to be done.

What ticks me off is that the country was starting to take rational steps toward developing alternative energy and conservation during the Carter years. Then Reagan came in and trashed all those programs. Why people think Carter was so terrible and Reagan so great is beyond me.
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#24 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 08:16 PM
 
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No apologies needed, pauletoy. This is an important topic

I don't watch the news, listed to the radio, or get the newspaper. But I'm acutely aware of this economic stuff, partly because a friend of mine has taken it upon himself to scrutinize the economic changes and offer it in a more digestible form for friends, neighbors, and the world at large. So I've been exposed to ideas of economic instability through him for a couple of years now.

A couple of years before that, we (DH and I) were already making choices that turned out to be smart ones; moving toward sustainability in the ways we felt possible at the time. I've been a SAHM for about 10 years and have had to be consciously frugal for most of that time.

We can't get around the fact that we need a family vehicle that has 4-wheel drive and can tow a trailer. So, yes, we have an SUV. I don't know what else would work in our current situation. We don't go out much. Staying home with the kids means we appreciate each other's company more than we did. Because of gas prices, I don't feel it's an option to put my kids in all kinds of classes and activities in town (10-15 miles away), and I think ultimately that is a good thing. It's keeping me from getting caught up in the frenzy.

What used to be considered a modest income will now be considered insufficient. What used to be considered a generous income will now be considered modest.

Also, consumerism is catching up with people, and it's long overdue. I'm trying to remember that we are on the brink of some much-needed and exciting changes in the way average Americans view consumption. It won't be easy, but by thinking about this stuff now and taking steps to prepare ourselves (even by something as simple as lowering our expectations!), we are already ahead of the curve. I'm trying to stay positive and optimistic. I will assume that the worst-case is only in my head, but I'm going to prepare for that and hope to be pleasantly surprised in the end.

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#25 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 10:54 PM
 
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I am not worried about our family as my husband's job is very stable and we live WELL within our means. It's the rest of everyone else I'm concerned about and how it will affect things for years to come. A LOT of people are going to be HURTING... not just saying, "Well, I won't go to the bar this weekend or get a new CD"... I mean people who truly were barely scraping by BEFORE the prices of everything went up and who have not had wages increase accordingly.

My mother was born during the Great Depression and remembers WWII and rationing... she is still very frugal to this day. She can make a chicken breast last like 4 days!

But SO many people are in SO much debt, and what is going to happen to everyone? I am not concerned about myself so much, but I am concerned about everyone else. Michigan, in particular, has been in terrible shape now for years. Nothing has been done here. There are houses in my neighborhood (good school district) that have literally been on the market for years.

It is just a huge mess and I don't know what they are going to do to fix it. It seems like everything will just be a band aid on the bigger problem. How do they (government financial people) expect people to spend money on "stuff" when people soon will not be able to afford food? Diesel here is now over $4 per gallon, food prices will not be coming down anytime soon.

We have no debt but our tax refund and "stimulus" check are going into our savings. We are not spending it. I don't think it's going to help as much as they thought it would.

OK off the soapbox now. I basically think a lot of people are screwed and it's really going to hurt everyone in the long run.
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#26 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 11:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
No apologies needed, pauletoy. This is an important topic

I don't watch the news, listed to the radio, or get the newspaper. But I'm acutely aware of this economic stuff, partly because a friend of mine has taken it upon himself to scrutinize the economic changes and offer it in a more digestible form for friends, neighbors, and the world at large. So I've been exposed to ideas of economic instability through him for a couple of years now.

A couple of years before that, we (DH and I) were already making choices that turned out to be smart ones; moving toward sustainability in the ways we felt possible at the time. I've been a SAHM for about 10 years and have had to be consciously frugal for most of that time.

We can't get around the fact that we need a family vehicle that has 4-wheel drive and can tow a trailer. So, yes, we have an SUV. I don't know what else would work in our current situation. We don't go out much. Staying home with the kids means we appreciate each other's company more than we did. Because of gas prices, I don't feel it's an option to put my kids in all kinds of classes and activities in town (10-15 miles away), and I think ultimately that is a good thing. It's keeping me from getting caught up in the frenzy.

What used to be considered a modest income will now be considered insufficient. What used to be considered a generous income will now be considered modest.

Also, consumerism is catching up with people, and it's long overdue. I'm trying to remember that we are on the brink of some much-needed and exciting changes in the way average Americans view consumption. It won't be easy, but by thinking about this stuff now and taking steps to prepare ourselves (even by something as simple as lowering our expectations!), we are already ahead of the curve. I'm trying to stay positive and optimistic. I will assume that the worst-case is only in my head, but I'm going to prepare for that and hope to be pleasantly surprised in the end.
Yeah, that!! It would be fascinating to talk to your friend. Economics was never something I was that interested in, but it sure is now. I think we made very good choices that suited us well at the time and we are stable now because of them.

I am almost 39 years old and have lived through a couple of slumps... I am sure things will turn around again but it won't ever be like it was in the 90's and early 00's.
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#27 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 11:12 PM
 
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we're concerned. We have put off moving home because we don't want to go into debt (more debt) to do it. We live in a fairly low col area. My husband works 1 ft and 3 pt jobs. He stays at the ft job because it is stable. I'm frugal. We have some wiggle room in the budget if things get bad.
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#28 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here- I just want to say thank you everyone for responding. When I talk to people around here, Alabama, most people laugh and think I am an alarmist. I personally think I am a realist. It is good to hear from so many others.

I noticed that a couple of posters are already having some extreme hardships. I will be thinking about you and your families.

As for my family, I am a SAHM, DH is a firefighter and a part-time 911 dispatcher. I am so thankful that we do not have to worry about potential layoffs. The firefighter pay here is not that great but it is a stable, essential occupation.

I wouldn't even dream of comparing the U.S.'s current circumstances to the Great Depression. I personally do not think things will get that bad. DH reminded me today that the economy has always had ebbs and flows.

I agree with a previous poster about the Economic Stimulus. There maybe a boost in the economy for a very short while but it won't be because of me. We will be stashing the money in savings. I don't believe a one time payment from the government is going to turn the economy around. JMHO

Maybe this down turn will be a wake up call to all Americans. We can not continue to consume. We must find alternative fuel sources and protect our natural resources.

Wife of 20 years to my superhero firefighting DH. SAHM to 2 boys and 2 girls (3 babies in Heaven- Baby # 5 5/2010 & Baby #6 8/2011 & Baby # 7 2/1013). Cancer Survivor 2011 ( Persistent Malignant Gestational Trophoblastic Disease)

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#29 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 11:51 PM
 
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I predict the gas prices will come down temporarily in the fall, in time for the election.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#30 of 93 Old 04-17-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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Our stimulus check is going to either go in the bank or it is going to go to stocking up for next winter. I've been thinking like a little squirrel and trying to get more and more food and necessities stocked up. I guess DH and I did decide to buy bicycles for us, but that will only be a couple hundred dollars and will provide years of entertainment(without eating away at resources). DH and I have already decided that part of it will go to buying pellets for our pellet stove, we have the space to keep them and it would be nice to have them before we need them(which is normally NOT the case). We won't be running out to buy a TV or anything like that, this is just going to buy us things necessary for our lives.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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