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Four Years of Personal Decline

April 3, 2010

WE POSTED the following list a few years back when FOX News wondered why people weren’t more psyched about the economy in light of news that tax receipts were up and the federal budget deficit projection had declined. Probably mumbled something about the impertinence of the particular economic indicators the media fetishizes that have little to do with everyday folks trying to get along in the world. Here were the economic indicators that were on a younger Montag’s mind:

  1. Is my job secure from outsourcing, or an economic downturn?
  2. Is my wife’s job secure from municipal budget cuts or fickle public priorities?
  3. Can I still sell my house without losing the equity I have invested?
  4. In the coming years, will I be able to sell my house for enough to just pay off the mortgage?
  5. Holy fuck! It costs over $30 to fill the tank of my compact car.
  6. What’s it gonna cost to heat the house this winter?
  7. What if work dries up at my second job? Will I still be able to make the monthly nut?
  8. Hey, why doesn’t my employer match my 401k contributions anymore?
  9. Shit. Will I ever be able to retire?
  10. My Grandma is paying how much for medications?
  11. The fuckin refrigerator’s broken.
  12. Is the check engine light in my car supposed to stay on all the time like that?

And here’s what’s been on our mind lately as with relation to the above:

  1. Yes. So far so good. Not counting my eggs until I see the company successfully survive the recession though.
  2. Nope! Next school year, goodbye second income.
  3. Nope! We had some equity, and we’ve done tens of thousands of dollars worth of work to the house but it don’t matter to the bank. Our end of the investment has vanished with the dropping housing market.
  4. Maybe? If we sold today we might be lucky enough to pay the mortgage back. Which would be a bitter pill to take considering the above.
  5. LOL. It now costs $40 to $45.
  6. We’re in good shape for next winter. There’s 6 cord of firewood laying around the yard where we had to have some unhealthy trees taken down last fall. In 6 foot lengths. With a few hundred hours of labor now, we should be able to survive the next Winter without freezing to death.
  7. Work has dried up at my second job. Made 70% less on the side work last year than the year before. Managing to keep up with expenses so far. Item #2 above is going to be the game changer.
  8. Still no matching 401K contributions. The employer has also instituted a moratorium on taking paid vacation time. WTF, right? WHAT’S THAT ABOUT? IS the company going to successfully survive the recession?
  9. If we can manage to keep the house, and eventually pay off the mortgage, maybe I’ll only have to work part time in my retirement years. I’ve come to terms with the unlikelihood of a leisurely retirement.
  10. Both grandmas have passed away and escaped continuing prescription expenses.
  11. The ill-advised balances we’re carrying on our credit cards are due in part to our having to have replaced the refrigerator a couple of years ago.
  12. The ill-advised balances we’re carrying on our credit cards are due in part to necessary automobile repairs.

Now these still aren’t the worst problems that people dealing with poverty face every day, but we do feel our standard of living slipping. If we fight to stay in the house, and it’s hard to convince even one’s own loves ones to give up that sense of home, if it even proves possible to keep it, we will be “house poor” as they say. These are the things that keep a guy away from regular blogging.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack Crow permalink
    April 4, 2010 9:31 AM

    Anecdotal: my better half works in an ob/gyn clinic, handling the doc’s schedules. She said that more and more people now say something like, “We’re down to one car, now. Can I schedule it at such and such time?”

    • April 5, 2010 7:46 AM

      we may end up selling a vehicle. no options are off the table.

  2. April 4, 2010 9:56 AM

    +1000.

  3. April 5, 2010 4:57 PM

    Not surprisingly, that sounds like a lot like Britain too. Inflation down, parrot the newspapers, while just about every single item in your supermarket basket continues its inexorable rise in price.
    I did feel kinda bad about missing out on the property price boom for a while, but there’s a lot to be said for having no economic ties. Even then, the only way I’ll get a cushy retirement is if I’m lazing on a Third World beach.

  4. April 15, 2010 12:00 AM

    This all feels so close to home. Well, maybe not so close. I’ve been seeking answers to some of the same questions in Iowa.

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