Thursday, September 25, 2008

Worried about the Economy?

So Am I.

I have a confession to make. As much faith as I have, as much as I am dedicated to having more smile lines than worry lines, as smart as I try to be about money, I am worried about the economy.

You see, I am the caretaker of our household budget, so 90% of our family's spending decisions go through me. Whether I am or not, I feel responsible for our solvency.

Since January, our family has taken steps to cut out unnecessary expenses. We have quit the YMCA and did not take a vacation this summer. We have changed the way we use our telephone service to reduce costs. I have drastically cut down the amount I use my car. We have made a greater effort to save on groceries, clipping coupons and price-matching.

Still, the economy is a mess that is getting messier by the minute.

One thing our family has been working to do that I haven't shared until now is what I hope our country will start to do in earnest -- pay down our debt.

The house we live in is our first home. We purposely moved from a rental in Southeast Michigan, where home prices were sky-high, to central Illinois. Here we were closer to family and home prices were far more reasonable.

When we were shopping for a home, we wanted something "with potential" -- meaning, of course, something with a low price tag that we could add some "sweat equity" to by fixing it up as we went along. What we ended up with was a 1920 brick 2-story that our family has grown into nicely.

Yes, we are still working on it. But it is enough, and it is home.

Because we made sound financial choices, like basing our mortgage on just one income and opting to pay for repairs as we go, rather than front-loading our mortgage so we could hire a contractor, we now owe less than my husband makes in one year. So, if the worst were to happen -- job loss, inflation, or a total freeze in credit -- I hope we will be okay.

Still, I find that I am worried a good bit of the time about what our financial future will hold. I mean, we have two sets of living parents and three children. Life is anything but predictable.

We do not live extravagantly. We do not have a boat or a pool or lots of "toys". We are doing our best to make smart choices, and yet I worry that it may not be enough. I mean, I'm not to the point where I can't eat or sleep -- not yet, anyway.

I wonder, am I alone in this?

-Midwest Mom

4 comments:

  1. Julia

    I have just read all of your posts on this same tab. I am very impressed, but then I was struck by your words on responsible parenthood at the outset. I feel you are doing an amazing job!

    There are so many aspects of uncertainty in our social, political and financial worlds now, it is difficult not to feel a twinge of anxiety about what the future might hold. There may be lots of change in a world that moves forever faster and faster. I draw all my own personal psychological nourishment from focusing on those parts of my life I know to be important, on those whom I love and care for and our quality of life. It's all we have really and what gives my life its purpose too.

    I am much older than you, but I too have had to make a transition with the times, a move from corporate life into what I now call portfolio working (A euphemism for making ends meet any way I can! LOL)

    It's tough but you sound like a loving survivor. You also sound very well placed to weather any storm, far more than most I know!

    Take very good care,

    Geoffrey
    Pornic, France

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  2. Dear Geoffrey,

    Thank you for your kind words of comfort. They are truly appreciated.

    Best, -MM

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  3. I'm fretting about the economy too. We are starting to cancel unnecessary bills (cable, Netflix), not sign-up for new contracts (cell phone... boohoo no iPhone), and pay off as much debt as possible. We also live in a fixer-upper (40's 2 bedroom) that we can afford. And yet, I still fret esp when groceries cost me an arm and a leg each week. You are definitely not alone in your worries.

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  4. Thanks, abbyjess.

    I'm not sure why it matters to me, but it does feel good not to be alone in this.

    Who knows where the economy is headed? I just know that lately I'm having random conversations with the other women at the grocery store as we click our tongues over the price of milk and bread.

    If hard times are ahead, which it seems they are, at least I know that I live in a community of strong, loving people. When times are tough, I hope more people will pull together than panic.

    Best to you, and thanks for your comment. -MM

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