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Author Topic: How has the economic downturn affected you?  (Read 3643 times)
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Ridah
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« on: September 18, 2008, 11:49:00 PM »

I'm sure this has been brought up before (hopefully not too recently) but I was reading an article about how different people are affected by our struggling economy and was interested in hearing people's stories here. Personally, since I'm in school full-time and I don't have many expenses, the economy hasn't effected me to a point where I need to cut back on anything. I work as a waiter four nights out of the week and while it's true that most restaurants aren't as busy as normal, business is still good enough that I make a good income (relative to my hours worked, expenses, etc.).

How about you guys?
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2008, 12:15:26 AM »

Well for one I hate reading the news and I don't trust anyone who works in the financial sector.
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2008, 12:30:15 AM »

I continue to be unemployed.  However, the plus side is that as the economy weakens Congress is more likely to extend the unemployment benefits.  I am getting close to the end, unfortunately, so I'm hoping they do that again this year.

The one good thing is that my expenses are very low and I'm not tied to a house mortgage nor do I have dependents to worry about feeding.  So it could be worse.

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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2008, 12:38:45 AM »

I don't know.  I'm getting paid the same or more than I was before this "economic downturn" so I can't say it has affected me too much I guess. 
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2008, 12:47:03 AM »

i was laid off two months ago so my company could hire someone to do 80% of the work i did for about half of the wages i was making. still haven't found a job yet. i would be getting tons of recruitment emails this time last year and earlier this year... but there's almost nothing.
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2008, 01:18:53 AM »

My (very) small business was growing at a healthy clip until August. Success is predicated on continued rapid growth for the next two years, because I'm starting from such a small sales base. It was already challenging before the economy went toes-up. The general pullback in retail sales is affecting my livelihood directly -- I earn a percentage of sales.

Meanwhile, while my meager income is growing too slowly, my wife has not had a raise or bonus in 3 years. She made up the difference with credit card debt. When that galloped out of control, we had to refinance it with home equity. 

So the short answer is that our income declined, then stagnated, we went into debt, our savings are steadily declining, and our credit is mostly tapped out. We are counting on the time and money that I've invested in Curio City to pull us out of that, and it was on track to start doing so next year. While that might still work out, tight credit and frightened consumers are going to make it much harder than it already was. The next three months are critical.

So click that signature, folks. Christmas is right around the corner.  unibrow
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2008, 01:47:23 AM »

Not much yet but that could change.

Most of my job is verifying end of day stock prices and sending them to our clients. We are in the process of getting new clients and I hope they or our current ones don't implode from bad investments.
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2008, 02:01:43 AM »

I'm doing much better than I was last year, but then that was just a recovery from the last collapse.  As a computer programmer, I got out of school in May of 2000 and the job market collapsed shortly thereafter, leaving me to attempt to get a programming job through my call center experience.  After 7 years of fits and starts, I finally gave up on the city (and relationship) that I was in and got an offer in November of last year to move to Dallas.

My current job is a programmer for a privately-held company that writes bank software for customer contact personnel at various levels.  They've been around for 28 years, serve the largest consumer banks in the industry, and have never laid off a programmer.  Assuming I don't find a way to screw it up, I should be siting pretty through this one. 

That being said, my rough estimate is that between my consumer debt and student loans, I'm in hock for 1.5 years' worth of my salary.  It's going to be a long, slow climb out.
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2008, 02:27:17 AM »

Wow, Isgrimnur, your story sounds a lot like mine.  Just change 2000 to 2001, the type of programming and Dallas to Denver and it's me all over again.   icon_confused
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2008, 02:29:03 AM »

I'd say in the normal finance area I'm mostly unaffected but my 401k fund has taken some huge hits.  I won't need that money for another 10-11 years but it is still a bit of a shock to see some losses equal to half my annual salary happen in one day.
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2008, 02:52:29 AM »

While we're talking about US economic downturn here, I'm still being affected in a country that is at the opposite side of the world. Compare to last year, the IT projects that my company handle is down to about 25%. Most of our customers are financial busines. If thing doesn't improve, there is a great risk that the company has to be closed sometime next year so I'll be unemployed. It'll be hard time for me since I have worked for the same company for close to 15 years now and at my age it'll be hard to start over.

My best chance is if I can get one of our partners to hire me but they're also hurting.

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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2008, 02:56:12 AM »

Personally, we're doing pretty good all things considered... we sold our house late last year before the bottom fell out of the market, and moved into a larger house but managed to reduce our mortgage payment by a third at a >6% interest rate.  Both my wife and I are "senior" employees at our respective jobs, so there's little chance of being laid off (I was promoted last year at my job, and she'll be promoted once the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted later this year).  Retirement funds aren't looking so hot at the moment, but we're socking cash away in our IRAs now while it's on sale slywink  
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2008, 03:02:56 AM »

I hope everyone's situation improves! It's sobering to realize that it could be any of us at some point.

I'm doing well in the sense that I'm still at Intel and even received a promotion (yea me!) I've always been financially conservative, to put it mildly.

However, the stock market downturn has very likely walloped my investments - the investments I made ten years ago with money inherited from my grandparents - and while this has been an ongoing problem, I think it's going to hurt bad this time.

I've an MBA from Berkeley, minored in Finance, study the market, diversify, am willing to ride out the bad times - but you know ever since I've invested that money it's been rough. It's grown but frankly, I've had 15%-20% losses that wipeout a couple years growth on more than one occasion. A good friend with an investment company analyzed my portfolio a couple years back and thought it erred a little on the cautious side. Man, if this is the safe side, I'd hate to have more volatile investments.

Some people grow rich from their investments; I just hope that I'll recover my inheritance. Maybe I'll have enough to buy a mocha grande at the last Starbucks.
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2008, 03:50:22 AM »

nah, but im fairly young. i have no stocks or anything and just started a 401k. as long as there's banks i have a job, heh. so ya know, hopefully they don't fail.

i just don't understand how gas prices aren't falling with oil being so low.
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2008, 10:16:37 AM »

In the teaching industry, I'm more likely to be affected by the ongoing aging population than I am by the economic crisis.  The only affect that this might have on me is on my own stocks.  To be perfectly honest I don't really know what I have stocks in.  I think they're mutual funds or something like that I guess.  I don't know how those have been affected by the recent events.  Those are supposed to be extremely long term things though, like something I'll want to touch when I'm 60.  So I guess I shouldn't worry too much about it.
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« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2008, 12:57:45 PM »

I work in a small architecture firm designing custom houses. Things have gotten a bit slow--this time last year we had more work than we could handle and were turning down jobs, now new prospects are coming in at a trickle (if at all). Still, I haven't been personally affected too much. My firm is as small as it can get for the work we do, so I shouldn't have to worry about losing my job (knock on wood). I have a retirement plan that's probably taking a hit, but truth be told I don't pay much attention to it since it barely has anything in it to begin with. Right now all of my money is going to paying down my credit card debt and student loans. If I stay on track, the former should be gone by Feb 09 and the latter one year later. I just got my annual raise, which was then cut by 1/3 two weeks later. Still, I'm putting in a lot of overtime and am doing pretty well. My expenses haven't gone up (my landlord barely remembers to cash my rent check, let alone raise my rent), so it's so far, so good.
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2008, 01:13:43 PM »

Well, my 401K is taking a bath, but I did manage to buy a house worth WAAAYYYYY more than I paid for it, and my job is secure.  So all in all things are going fine.
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« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2008, 01:39:57 PM »

Quote from: Covenant on September 19, 2008, 01:13:43 PM

Well, my 401K is taking a bath, but I did manage to buy a house worth WAAAYYYYY more than I paid for it, and my job is secure.  So all in all things are going fine.

Same here, although my recent move from logistics (hourly) to sales (salary + commission) is going to make things extremely lean for the next few months.  The potential to make some good $$ is there, but I'm pretty new at this whole sales thing, and am learning as I go.   Looks like I'll be doing lots more hours at the part-time job until I really figure things out.
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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2008, 02:20:19 PM »

I got a fairly significant raise just before it all really got started so I'm pretty much moving along exactly the way I was before. I barely even notice any of it.
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« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2008, 02:32:12 PM »

Hasn't affected us that much, other than the fact that I know we should be farther ahead in paying off our debt, but are instead moving along at the same steady clip. Both my wife and I got raises late last year, but gas prices wiped those out so we pretty much stayed even.

On the other hand, we have cut back on a lot of things almost subconsciously, so that has helped soften the blow as well. We don't eat out much, we don't do a lot of riding around on the weekends burning gas unnecessarily.

If I can manage to land a new job I'm going after next month, then we'll be back on top again, rather than treading water.
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« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2008, 02:38:10 PM »

It made me buy this.  thumbsup

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« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2008, 03:13:15 PM »

Interestingly enough, the rough year for me was last year, when it was looking like we hadn't secured contracts/grants for the rest of the 08 fiscal year (ending June 30, 08).  I had a kid, took time off for that, had my grandfather die after a day back at work, was gone a few days for that, and came back to work to a 'we might have to close your department' meeting!  Our dept head was not securing new work for us and was not working with our other departments to pursue work jointly.

I took it on myself to start fostering some interdepartmental partnerships which got us through last year and landed us the largest single year contract our department has had for this fiscal year... between that and other new work we've landed, the next year is looking very, very good for our department.  My job is looking pretty secure.

However... I AM noticing the bump in food prices in our supermarket... I'd say that's the main place I'm feeling the pain.  Beer prices surprisingly seem to be about even. smile
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« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2008, 03:31:58 PM »

Quote from: kratz on September 19, 2008, 03:13:15 PM

I AM noticing the bump in food prices in our supermarket... I'd say that's the main place I'm feeling the pain. 

That little detail falls under the whole "no raises in three years" thing that I mentioned earlier. The grocery budget is stagnant, and prices are certainly not. I plan each week's menu, shop sales, buy nonperishables in bulk, and use coupons to stretch the budget as far as it will go. For the past six or eight weeks homegrown tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash have helped out a lot...but the gardening season is over. We will not be enjoying fresh produce for very much longer. My freezer full of homemade chili and spaghetti sauce will help some, though. Still, it's getting to the point where I might have to divert part of my beer budget to food.  crybaby
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« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2008, 03:35:21 PM »

Up until last week, where I live wasn't in a downturn.  I don't know how Ike is going to affect my business long term.  But this week has been almost dead.

My family was in a pretty big debt hole a few years ago and we've been digging out slowly.  Personally things will be much better in about 14 months when we pay off the loan.  My flooring business is very small but it's been going great this year and I hope it continues.

The one thing is the higher gas prices and grocery prices have affected my family more than anything else.
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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2008, 04:27:41 PM »

My 401k is just tormenting me.  I've ALWAYS put the max amount into it, and to open the maintenance page for my account and see that I'm losing my investments faster than I'm contributing is really depressing.  I know that realistically, it's not analogous to actually losing money, but man is it bringing me down.

Other than that, things are just generally slow at work right now.  We have a couple of prospects in the pipe, but right now I'm just doing busy work (catching up on some internal IT documentation, brushing up on my SQL, etc.).  I work for a small firm so my experience is limited, unfortunately.  If something were to happen to this place, I'd be hard pressed to return to a large company.   I also doubt I'd remain in Chicago.  I'm a small town boy who's just about had his fill of urban life. icon_frown
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« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2008, 04:47:51 PM »

People always need drugs, so it hasn't affected me in the slightest as far as my job goes. On the money front though, I'm doing pretty well thankfully. My investments have all gone downhill though.
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« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2008, 05:06:42 PM »

Quote from: Destructor on September 19, 2008, 04:47:51 PM

People always need drugs, so it hasn't affected me in the slightest as far as my job goes. On the money front though, I'm doing pretty well thankfully. My investments have all gone downhill though.

My initial reading of the first part of that post led me down a very dark road...
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« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2008, 05:09:40 PM »

Well, I suppose in the  long run my investments will pick up. I've got nearly 40 years until retirement anyway. Unless it all goes bad again...

Anyway, in the short run, I have noticed food prices mostly going up. Fifty cents here, twenty cents there, etc. and pretty soon you're paying ten-fifteen bucks more than last time for the same stuff.

Still I'm far better off now then I was a four years back when I was in grad school.

The good ol' days. They were horrible.  slywink
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« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2008, 05:11:07 PM »

Quote from: Crawley on September 19, 2008, 02:38:10 PM

It made me buy this.  thumbsup


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« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2008, 06:37:14 PM »

Quote from: Destructor on September 19, 2008, 04:47:51 PM

People always need drugs, so it hasn't affected me in the slightest as far as my job goes.
Not so fast... even drug dealers are feeling the pinch...

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0918081gastax1.html

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« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2008, 06:56:27 PM »

Has affected me little to not at all. My company just had the best fiscal year that it has had in the ten years I have worked for them. So far I have absorbed the increase cost of living without thinking much about the situation. On the other hand, I do not even log onto Etrade anymore to see the damage to my investments. I should be looking to move more money to my equity accounts and pick up some deals.
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« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2008, 07:31:23 PM »

It's been really odd for me, being an auto worker I would expect us to have been hit very hard but it's been the opposite as far as the short term has gone.  The rising gas prices and the success of our new car has meant 10.5-12 hour work days (+ 2 hours of commute each day) 5-6 days a week for most of this year, we even have other plants doing overflow just to keep up with demand.  We had a national strike for 2 days last fall then the first local strike in over 35 years for 3 weeks in May that I didn't agree with at all.  We agreed in the national contract to change some job classifications and hire people to work at much lower pay rates to fill those jobs, the local didn't want to give up some cushy high seniority jobs to low pay new hires so they've set a dangerous precedent by letting the low pay new hires do the exact same work the regular workers do.  I'm betting this is exactly what the company wanted and eventually these low pay guys will out number the regular guys and they'll except a contract that cuts our pay to get a couple more dollars for themselves.  The way it was supposed to work was that as we left the new hires would have received the chance to transfer to higher paying jobs but the local fucked them on that also.  It is supposedly based on percentage now, there are only supposed to be a small percentage of the total workforce at a lower paying wage and if the lower paid workforce's percentage rises over the set rate a number of them get bumped up to balance it back out.  I would have rather gave up the cushy jobs so there was a clear cut difference on what jobs paid what.

But like I said before, even with the 3 weeks off I think I've made close to a full years pay in 9 months so I haven't personally felt the economic hit in a negative way this year other than the fact that I'm never home and when I am I'm asleep for most of it.
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« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2008, 10:19:00 PM »

Hasn't affected me, or the wife, much at all. She's a teacher, I'm a nurse. Her pay is virtually the same year-to-year, I'll be getting a raise next pay period. While we've noticed the rising cost of living, it's been easy to absorb because we've lived below our means ever since I graduated and got my job. We'll notice the biggest hit after we've paid our bills for surrogacy and our savings don't spring back as fast as they grew the first time 'round.
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« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2008, 11:12:29 PM »

I talk to my father about how "tough times are now" and he grins the old-timer grin of a 47-year-old: "Every year since I was 17, I've heard how horrible it is for new college graduates, auto-workers, construction workers, manufacturing, the service industry, for financial institutions, the saving & loan industry, floods, fires, earthquakes, wars, bombings, the earth is cooling, population bomb waiting, resources depleting,...blah blah..." I forget most of it but I guess his point was the more things change...

So we just had a beer and watched Channel Ocho's dodgeball tournament and gave up.

(Dad's nutty but even I remember graduating a few years back and having all my friends moaning about the dot.com crash and having missed the gravy train. We're such whiners.)
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« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2008, 11:57:30 PM »

Our company is seeing downturn in business and has a freeze on hiring (unless its a critical position).  We're in the travel industry, so we're hit by the high cost of fuel (so airline costs are a factor).  Luckily (or unluckily) the company has a good financial team and somewhat saw the problem late last year - as a result all of the "raises" were flat to none....it sucked then, but we all still have our jobs.  Through attrition, we are losing people - and some folks whose jobs are "duplicates" are under the gun, and some jobs are being outsourced.  Its tough - but we are hoping to make it through to late 2009 where we hope the economy improves.

Personally - my investments have gone to hell, living costs have gone up (food and gas), and my son had a series of surgeries over the summer - so "unexpected" medical costs are high.  Overall - we are trying to be OK, but its getting tougher.  I justify it by saying we are still better off - I have a job and making it.  I do hope that the economy improves and we have a stop to these giant companies going bankrupt (or appear to be going bankrupt and us taxpayers bailing them out).
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« Reply #35 on: September 20, 2008, 12:18:03 AM »

I upped my financial discipline just before the last crash and paid off all of my debt except for my house and my wife's student loans.  This hiccup hasn't phased me at all, other than the price of gas.
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« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2008, 12:40:01 AM »

Quote from: JohnathanStrange on September 19, 2008, 11:12:29 PM

I talk to my father about how "tough times are now" and he grins the old-timer grin of a 47-year-old: "Every year since I was 17, I've heard how horrible it is for new college graduates, auto-workers, construction workers, manufacturing, the service industry, for financial institutions, the saving & loan industry, floods, fires, earthquakes, wars, bombings, the earth is cooling, population bomb waiting, resources depleting,...blah blah..." I forget most of it but I guess his point was the more things change...

So we just had a beer and watched Channel Ocho's dodgeball tournament and gave up.

(Dad's nutty but even I remember graduating a few years back and having all my friends moaning about the dot.com crash and having missed the gravy train. We're such whiners.)

Let me preface this by saying this is all my personal opinion from what I have observed and may or may not be remotely accurate, but I am entitled to my opinion. So, here goes.

I'm a 48 year old and while I too have seen some tough moments for our economy here and there, what we are just now STARTING to feel is NOTHING to what we WILL go through.  Mark my words.  Things haven't even begun to get bad.  This country is like a person with 10 credit cards that are completely maxed out saying, "I gotta do something about all this debt.  I know.  I will get an 11th credit card and pay off the 10 maxed out ones and all will be good."  Our gov't has spent everything we have sent them in the past 20 years times ten with no regard to what would eventually happen.  The piper is coming to get paid and we are screwed.  If anyone believes there is an easy way out of this without years of very very very tough times ahead I believe they are completely deluding themselves.  Medicare and Social Security cost alone, what with the Babyboomers retirement boom just a couple of years from being in full swing, will absord nearly ALL of the taxes we now pay.  Forget everything else the government tries to fund.  It is going to get ugly.   I hope I am wrong wrong wrong.


As for me personally, I have felt the pinch on gas, food, and such like anyone else.  No affect job-wise yet, but I am not optimistic.  When the tough times get here people will cut back on everything frivolous and thus companies will suffer and the number one way to reduce O&M costs is to cut people.  It has been 3 years since our company did that, but I know it is only a matter of time.

Have a great weekend everyone. 
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« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2008, 04:54:56 AM »

Quote from: mikeg on September 20, 2008, 12:40:01 AM

I'm a 48 year old and while I too have seen some tough moments for our economy here and there, what we are just now STARTING to feel is NOTHING to what we WILL go through.  Mark my words.  Things haven't even begun to get bad.  This country is like a person with 10 credit cards that are completely maxed out saying, "I gotta do something about all this debt.  I know.  I will get an 11th credit card and pay off the 10 maxed out ones and all will be good."  Our gov't has spent everything we have sent them in the past 20 years times ten with no regard to what would eventually happen.  The piper is coming to get paid and we are screwed.  If anyone believes there is an easy way out of this without years of very very very tough times ahead I believe they are completely deluding themselves.  Medicare and Social Security cost alone, what with the Babyboomers retirement boom just a couple of years from being in full swing, will absord nearly ALL of the taxes we now pay.  Forget everything else the government tries to fund.  It is going to get ugly.   I hope I am wrong wrong wrong.

I hope you are wrong as well, but a few months ago my father, who remembers the Great Depression as a small boy (he was born in 1931), told me he thought we were headed towards a very bad economic time, much worse than anything since.  I've been thinking about that a lot the last few weeks.

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« Reply #38 on: September 20, 2008, 03:55:37 PM »

Quote from: Sarkus on September 20, 2008, 04:54:56 AM

Quote from: mikeg on September 20, 2008, 12:40:01 AM

I'm a 48 year old and while I too have seen some tough moments for our economy here and there, what we are just now STARTING to feel is NOTHING to what we WILL go through.  Mark my words.  Things haven't even begun to get bad.  This country is like a person with 10 credit cards that are completely maxed out saying, "I gotta do something about all this debt.  I know.  I will get an 11th credit card and pay off the 10 maxed out ones and all will be good."  Our gov't has spent everything we have sent them in the past 20 years times ten with no regard to what would eventually happen.  The piper is coming to get paid and we are screwed.  If anyone believes there is an easy way out of this without years of very very very tough times ahead I believe they are completely deluding themselves.  Medicare and Social Security cost alone, what with the Babyboomers retirement boom just a couple of years from being in full swing, will absord nearly ALL of the taxes we now pay.  Forget everything else the government tries to fund.  It is going to get ugly.   I hope I am wrong wrong wrong.

I hope you are wrong as well, but a few months ago my father, who remembers the Great Depression as a small boy (he was born in 1931), told me he thought we were headed towards a very bad economic time, much worse than anything since.  I've been thinking about that a lot the last few weeks.



I'm 51. I entered the workforce during Richard Nixon's wage-and-price controls and Gerald Ford's Whip Inflation Now and Jimmy Carter's stagflation. I have weathered numerous recessions since then. I have a bad gut feeling about this one, too. It's fundamentally different than those that have come before. I'm not sure that the old rules and remedies are going to apply, because the government's usual bag of tricks is already exhausted. Pump priming with deficit spending? Tapped out. Interest rate cuts? They're already very low. Tax cuts? Taxes are already low and government is running huge deficits. This morning's headline said that September tax receipts in Massachusetts are running $200 million behind last year, it's likely to get worse, and emergency budget cuts are coming.

I'm just one more old-timer chiming in. But it feels to me like this snowball is just getting rolling.
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« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2008, 08:43:35 PM »

I've had two pathetic raises in the last seven years, so my buying power continues to decline, but more rapidly lately. My natural gas bill is set to jump 25% come 11/01, my water/sewer bill is going up 4.5% 10/01, my garbage bill is going up soon, and isn't everything else getting more expensive too?

We are free of any debt except our house, so we are in good shape for now, but the amount we put into savings continues to get smaller and smaller every year.

Just a couple days ago I looked at ticket prices to fly from Portland OR to Phoenix AZ to visit family at Christmas, and was shocked! $400-500 per person!!! It's half that if I fly in early December. The airlines are going to put themselves out of business with crap like that. I refuse to pay nearly $2,000 to fly my family to AZ for a week.

Ho ho ho...
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