Has The Economy Woes Affected You Personally?

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Pramrider

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Either yourself or your family. If so, what are you doing to help get through these tough economic times? For my family and I, the problems are having a big impact on my retirement savings plan. About 1/4 of it was in company stock where I worked which has gone from a high of $107 a share down to as low as $13 recently. Unknownst to me, the company got in a pinch with not having enough liquidity to continue operating a certain large area of it's business. In fact, the company, Constellation Energy, is now attempting to sell itself to billionaire Warren Buffett for $26.50 a share - .25 cents on the dollar from what it was worth a year ago. Of course, that's pending stockholder approval which has some serious doubts at this time. I'm almost afraid to see what my next statement is going to look like when received in a week or two.:frown: If I was still younger there would be plenty of time for it to recover, but I'll be eligible to draw from it in less than a year and a half. Most economy experts are saying don't expect much improvement for another 5 to 7 years. At it's present value, I'll probably wait until I'm in my early/mid '60s before touching it in hopes it will improve somewhat. At least I still have plenty of contract work with Constellation due to their downsizing employees (myself included) to the point they don't have enough now to get all the work done.

We've also tried to cut costs at home. Bathroom lights that normally take 8 bulbs now only have two. Ditto for other ceiling lights that get used a lot. We do most of our heating with a wood stove on the coldest days when the heat pump is least efficient (most expensive) to use. AC is set at 81 and heat is set at 69 degrees F. If the price of LP gas keeps climbing, the wood stove is also going to be used for some of the cooking since it has a built-in cook top.

Anyone else getting caught in a pinch with the economy woes, and what are you doing to help get through it?

~Pramrider
 

starshine

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Well it is affecting us -all-, even if we don't see it right now. You may not see the effects for another couple of years, but it will affect all of us.

But I have not been -directly- affected, no.
 

Fire2box

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I don't see why it should affect my state of mind. Anyways I do not think I'll be hurting for cash at all once I get a job.
 

Nam Repaid

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Ohh Yea! Likewise my retirement 401k is now about worthless. I had a set of mutual funds set to pay off my mortage on dec 2009 that are also worth less than when I bought them in "08". It's scarey. Hopefully it will turn around but right about now I'd like to strangle my financial planner! During the last drop after 911 We got 10% pay cuts and 4 day (8hr) work weeks. I was just recovering. On the up side fuel is getting cheeper and I've no debt save for my mortgage.

Nam
 

IncompleteDude

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My family has been completely unaffected. Our investments are all in companies that have been minimally affected by this crisis, if anything they are benefiting from it due to their cash reserves and lack of debt. Also, since housing prices are still going up where I live and not in a bubble-like fashion, we haven't lost anything there. My parents have very secure jobs, and in fact are planning on buying a business for $1.3 million or so. They want to move up north to live more comfortably, and want a local source of income. Kind of an early retirement.

I don't think any prices increases will seriously affect us, nay they will make us money. That is because part of this business up north is a liquor store, and I can imagine more heavy drinking by the public in the years to come. Speaking of which, I think I'll be putting some money into Altria as well, they have an excellent dividend.

Seriously though, I'd say half the current problems are psychological. There isn't any particular reason for the freezing of the credit markets to continue. The banks that will fall due to bad loans already have, but the rest are still hoarding cash because it calms investors during the market turmoil. Problem is, it's exactly that hoarding that is causing much of the turmoil we see now, where perfectly good businesses fail because of a lack of access to short term capital. It's retarded, frankly. And if I had a billion dollars right now, I assure you I would have $10 billion by the end of this by buying all the securities panicked investors are selling at fire-sale prices.
 
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closet dl

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Our house, purchased 3 years ago for $195,000 and another $15,000 worth of improvements (finishing basement, interior improvements, etc) was recently revalued by the bank as worth only $185,000. Also, retirement funds were worth around $120,000 at one point currently down around $60,000. So yes, the current slump is affecting our household.
 

Peachy

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Our house, purchased 3 years ago for $195,000 and another $15,000 worth of improvements (finishing basement, interior improvements, etc) was recently revalued by the bank as worth only $185,000. Also, retirement funds were worth around $120,000 at one point currently down around $60,000. So yes, the current slump is affecting our household.
As long as you don't intend to sell your home, it should not affect you at all. And taking out a loan with your house as collateral to finance consumer spending is a really stupid idea and caused the whole crisis in the first place, so I would highly discourage you from doing any such thing.

Personally, the crisis has only affected me indirectly. I don't have significant assets I own, and luckly, my that one investment certificate I owned was due back in July and I was able to sell it at a 14% profit. Ever since, I simply haven'T had the time to think about reinvesting the money, and it's sitting in my savings account where it's all safe from the stock market crash.
I'm only indirectly affected as I need a new job after finishing my PhD soon, and I was going to work in the finance profession. And with all banks laying off people, it'll be harder to find a job.

Peachy
 

Darkfinn

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Anyways I do not think I'll be hurting for cash at all once I get a job.
Good luck trying to find a job... especially one that pays well and has good benefits. Companies are cutting payrolls at a faster rate now than they have in many many years... over 700,000 jobs were lost in September alone.

What Mandi said is right... in the end we will all be affected by this shitty economy.

Personally, higher food and fuel prices have forced LuvsGurl and I to cut back on our expenditures. We drive less, eat out less, go out shopping or to the movies far less, buy store-brand foods and products instead of name-brand whenever possible, shop at wal-mart for pretty much everything instead of fancier stores, and forego many luxuries like video games or DVDs. I've been wanting a new charcoal grill for barbequeing for a while now... but that won't happen quite yet... maybe around christmas.

My work has also been effected by the current situation. We resell high-end wireless communication equipment to companies world wide... and everyone is feeling the pinch. Our sales are up, which is awesome all things considered, but from what I can see we are on target to grow only 10% this year... compared to our 30% or greater growth every year for the past 5. People just aren't spending on fancy technology items like they used to... and it does make me afraid. My 1 year anniversary with the company is next month... and I plan on campaigning for a big raise... but with profits down I don't know how much I will actually get.

The other way I can tell things are bad isn't really related to the economy at all. The gas companies around here used the most recent hurricanes as an excuse to jack up prices and cut supplies. Regular unleaded is going for right at $4/gal here in the Charlotte area... and I'd say about half of the gas stations don't have any gas at all. It's been like this for a month now... and the situation is only slowly starting to abate. Over the past weeks people have been lining up for hours just to get gasoline... I feel like it's 1970 again. So dispite the fact that prices in the rest of the nation have dropped, we are getting no relif here.
 

Pramrider

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... and I'd say about half of the gas stations don't have any gas at all. It's been like this for a month now... and the situation is only slowly starting to abate. Over the past weeks people have been lining up for hours just to get gasoline... I feel like it's 1970 again. So dispite the fact that prices in the rest of the nation have dropped, we are getting no relif here.
Darkfinn, I saw that on the news a couple weeks ago and was wondering if the gas situation down your way had eased up any. Hearing about it sure did bring back bad memories of gas lines in the early, and again in the late '70s.

~Pramrider
 

Darkfinn

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It's slowly... slowly... getting better. As I said, about half the stations have regular now... and there aren't hour long lines anymore. But there is still no premium (93 octane) to be found. What sucks is that my car runs on premium... and having to put regular in it for a month now has really killed it. I can't accelerate past about 1/3rd throttle, my mileage has gone from 25 city down to 21... and my check engine light stays on all the time. I've checked all the stations within a 10 mile radius... none of them know when they are going to get any.
 

ballucanb

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I lost some money with the fannie mae deal, but that was just some extra money I had from my settelment, I really don't need the money for living expenses.

I bought my house in 04, and paid for it the day I bought it in cash, so my only expenses are my utilities and food, I don't eat much so there is no problem there.

My house is heated with electric, and the company had a rate increase a few years ago, I keep the house at 70 when I'm awake and at 62 when I'm in bed, I only heat the room I'm in, so that saves quite abit of money, and I recently found out if I hang cloths to dry it saves me 50 bucks a month on electric, my house has always had florescent lighting, I changed all the bulbs when I moved in..

There are alot of little ways to save money, and I have been doing stuff here since I moved in, like reinsulating the attic to R-49, and insulating the basement to R-30, sealing around all the windows, and adding some plastic film to the inside for the colder months, makeing sure all the doors seal properly, little stuff you can do for almost nothing can save you big bucks overtime.
 
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Butterfly Mage

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The main way that the bad economy has effected me is two-fold:

-- Gasoline is ridiculously expensive and it takes a sizable chunk of my paycheck to fill up my car and my partner's car.
-- The price of food has also gone up a lot in the past 2-3 years.
-- My 401k (or 403b, or whatever it is) took a big hit. Fortunately I am not retiring anytime soon, but it is distressing to see my money disappear.

I got a raise this year as a result of earning a promotion, but my pay has not advanced as much as inflation has.
 

IncompleteDude

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-- My 401k (or 403b, or whatever it is) took a big hit. Fortunately I am not retiring anytime soon, but it is distressing to see my money disappear.

I got a raise this year as a result of earning a promotion, but my pay has not advanced as much as inflation has.
Keep it mind it hasn't really disappeared, it's just "in hiding" for the moment while the market reorganizes itself, and investments shift to the smart people again. After that it will do very well, but if I were you, I'd try finding some of those smart people to watch, and sell when they sell. That way next time, you can get out around the top, and buy back in when the market crashes. That way you get to be the smart money! :D

Also, I'm not sure about how wages in general are tracking in Canada, but I imagine they can't be too bad for two reasons. One, our economy is still creating jobs. Two, they keep raising minimum wage in my province every year it seems. It's on track to be $10/h next year, I think.
 

Pramrider

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...and I recently found out if I hang cloths to dry it saves me 50 bucks a month on electric,...
Yes, I forgot to mention we did that too, with similar savings on our bill. Our house was built to the local utility's energy efficient standards back in 1999 in order to qualify for a $2000 rebate they offered at the time. It is very air-tight because I had to put a vent pipe through the basement wall in order for the woodstove to be able to create a chimney draft.

~Pramrider
 

Darkfinn

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We can't hang clothes to dry here in Charlotte... having clothing hanging outside is against city code. I personally think it's bullshit... especially in these tight times.

Also of note... the DOW fell below 9,000 today... first time in 5 years. Oil is also down to its lowest mark in over a year.
 

Dawes

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I'm experiencing the same fluctuation in my 401k as has been expressed by many previous members.

As for it directly affecting me, it's directly affected me at my work. My job, being a state government job, has taken on drastic changes due to massive budget cuts in the interest of preserving during this economic crunch. I'm now doing the work that would normally get outsourced, and we just received an e-mail today discussing the possibility of us needing to go on a six day furlough.

Otherwise, there's still a lot it needs to do to mentally, or even economically affect me. Furloughs aside, I haven't seen my wallet get punched in its tits more than it already has been over the past few years.
 
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daria7483

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Fortunately, gas, which was scarce and over $4 a few weeks ago due to a hurricane whose name I can't even remember, has gone back down to about $3.55...woohoo, how cheap.

A year ago I moved to an apartment within walking distance of my job and it was one of the smartest things I've ever done. For those of you considering moving anytime soon, I would highly recommend finding a place within walking or biking distance of your job or school. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of getting a cheaper place 45 minutes away, unless your job lets you work from home a lot. My co-worker and her husband bought a house about 25 miles from our job and she is really hurting right now.

Anyway, the biggest thing for me now is food. I'm really making an effort to eat out less and am brown-bagging lunch most days. I've stopped buying crap I shouldn't be eating anyway like chips, and that's helped my waistline as well as my budget. Some weeks when things are particularly tight, I'll just get a few more veggies and fruit at the store instead of doing a full scale grocery shopping and live off whatever's in the cabinet.

I've put off getting a new computer until maybe the new year, and I've pretty much given up on getting an HDTV in the next year. And I reduced my cable TV service. My boyfriend is unhappy that I don't get the soccer channels anymore, but if he wants them he can pay for them. I'm considering getting rid of the cable TV altogether.

Also, my 401K is losing money right now, which is pretty scary since I've only been working a couple of years and don't have much in it anyway. That's probably my biggest concern, though my co-workers keep assuring me it'll get better.

One good thing though is that there are tons of houses/condos on the market right now in my area, and the prices keep falling since nobody's buying. I'm hoping to buy in the spring, and if they stay the same price I'll get more for my money than I could have 2 years ago.
 

Darkfinn

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Daria... I hope you have $10,000 in savings if you are planning to buy... all the banks are requiring 10-20% down... and a credit score of 700 or above.
 

closet dl

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I would suggest to many that are looking for ways to cut down on food costs that you shop your local grocer in the mornings between 8-11. That is when many stores do their markdowns on items that will expire soon like milk, meat, fish and bakery goods, and often you can get them for almost 1/2 price. I rarely buy meat at full price doing this, and can often pick up milk at less that $2 a gallon.
 
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daria7483

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Daria... I hope you have $10,000 in savings if you are planning to buy... all the banks are requiring 10-20% down... and a credit score of 700 or above.
Ugh, well, we'll see. *sigh* Here, 10 percent would likely be 15,000. I'll have ~$8,000 by the time I apply for the loan at my current savings rate. The thing that sucks is I will have to decide by February if I want to renew the lease on my apartment, although the lease doesn't expire until the end of June. Rentals are in really high demand around here so it's unlikely I could go month to month.
 
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