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How are you coping these days? Share your story.

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+12 more 
posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 08:50 PM
Fellow members,

My wife, bulldog, and I live in Washington DC. DC is an average city as far as the cost of living in the US. We have been very fortunate in our lives, we've had several successful businesses, and manage to now live comfortable lives. Not first class airline tickets and no Ferraris, but we fly business on air mile upgrades, drive $35000 cars and live in a three bedroom townhouse. For all intents and purpose we are a middle class family.

The reason I mention all this is that I want to share a conversation that my wife and I now have almost on a daily basis. It costs us about $200 a week for gas, $250 a month for cable/voip/internet, $300 per month in electricity, crazy money on food, insurance, vet bills, mortgage, taxes, medicine, doctors, dentists, storage. This is not counting the odd vacation, dinner out, holiday presents for friends and relatives. Most importantly we don't have kids so we avoid all of those expenses. Also, these days, we buy very little in the way of luxuries like new clothing, furniture, etc.

So we ask ourselves, how do people less fortunate than us do it?

Please don't call us elitist. We live an average life in an average town. No BMWs and Armaini suits here, just two people and a dog who spend what seems like an inordinate amount of money just to stay still. We go to Costco every month to buy our home staples, and still, the amount of money that goes out of our checking account is shocking.

We look at the gloomy economic news everyday on TV, we see the price of gas rise every day, and we know a great majority of Americans are hurting. At least half of our friends are behind on their mortgage and at least two thirds of them can't make their minimum payments on their credit cards. With prices going up on everything everyday one small crisis can break a family.

I was speaking to my dentist last week, and he told me that his business is down at least 60% because people can't afford basic dental work. It broke my hart the other day, I was at the vet to get my dog her shots, and the vet told me that they he been putting twice as many animals down because their owners can't afford to pay for their beloved pets medical care.

And as far as we can tell this is only the beginning. The credit issues that have been plaguing the mortgage business are about to hit the unsecured credit market, as people have had to put more and more on their credit cards to cope with all the price increases.

So we keep wondering what it must be like for all the families less fortunate than us and who also have children? Are we at the cusp of an entire nation having a gigantic poverty class?

Meanwhile the west is on fire, the heartland is under water, and the southeast is parched. We're fighting two wars, begging Saudi Arabia for more oil, hoping the Chinese don't call in their loans, and turning the dollar to toilet paper. Then there is Darfur, Zimbabwe and so much death for nothing.

Sorry for the depressing rant. It's just that somedays we get so down with what's awaiting us in the future. Yes we are grateful for our personal circumstances, but with all this suffering around us there seems to be little reason for joy.

I was just wondering how the rest of you are coping?

[edit on 7/2/2008 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 09:21 PM
I'm out here in CA (part of the state not currently on fire) and We're going thru all the same things. Each month, I check Zillow to see how much our home has lost in the market value. We haven't gotten to the point of owing more than it's worth, yet.
We used to go out to dinner every now and then. But not any more. Not even take out. My husband and I both have our birthdays this month, and we've decided not to give gifts. There's simply no extra money for anything.
We only buy groceries that are on sale. We drive our cars until the gas is just hovering above empty (not SUV's thankfully). We've been able to meet our finacial obligations, just barely. And we keep waiting for the time to come when even that will be impossible. I'm growing accustomed to the panic attacks too, from all the worrying.
Good luck to you and to everyone.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:07 PM
My situation is similar, if more Southern, to yours. Atlanta here. On top of it all, we have a catastrophic drought. Lake Lanier, Atlanta's primary water source, has dropped almost a foot this week alone. It's about to get real ugly around here. Not to mention the burbs are becoming a wasteland of foreclosed and unkept houses. At least a couple of foreclosures on my street alone.

With the economy, the drought and gas prices, no one wants to live here anymore but we're all upside down in our houses. I am nothing if not fierce, so I watch prices and our budget like a hawk. We have let somethings go but we are still fine. However, I know that many of the people I work with and our clients are not. I worry about them.

How do I cope? Rolling Rock and the cheapest merlot I can find at the wholesale club. The reality is it's not a far slide to Pabst Blue Ribbon and some ripple. But I'll still be drinking, because as you said in the OP, we're not going any where so a girl has to have some fun.

BTW, love your avatar. U2U me with some color commentary on it - I'm very curious.

[edit on 1/7/2008 by kosmicjack]

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:18 PM
reply to post by kosmicjack

I was wondering about Lake Lanier. I remember last fall it was all over the news with those crazy pictures with the docks like 30 ft above the water line. I even remember watching (don't laugh) bassmasters on ESPN and the water level was ridiculous.
I like to go to the drought monitor website to see what's happening down there. I thought you guys had some improvement with a lot of rain this spring but I guess it wasn't enough.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:23 PM
The entire world is upside down. I bitch and moan every day about how much gas prices are, even though I know we are one of the cheapest countries in the world for fuel. The brits are showing something like 9 bucks a liter or something like that?

I live in Michigan, the job market has never been great around here since GM thought it would be a better idea to sell the hummer than an electric car, and take most of it's jobs overseas leaving an entire automotive factory driven state on it's knees.

I just lost my job a few months ago, I don't have any prospects right now, there are more people here looking for work than employed, and I have a few bills myself. I foresaw this coming for some time, so I tried to prepare early, I bought a new vehicle that could be reliable, i've had it for about 4 years, and I bought new furniture in case I move, I can get rid of all my old junk, and have myself set for the next 10 years. I almost payed them off, and Fired.

Well, I cope with it because I'm not upset about being fired. I sought this as an opportunity to grow, to change, and move on with my life. However, I agree with the rising credit and cost of living. I am one of the lucky ones. I learned from an early age how to survive in the wild. I grew up in a cabin in the mountains of Northern Idaho, 8 foot of snow on the weekends, and no power, water or plumbing. We logged out property, I was in the boy scouts, etc.

I fear what will happen in this country should nothing change. This economic stimulus check crap is just that, crap.

I believe Lewis Black said it best:

"The only thing this money is going to do is make you realize how F***** you really are. The only way it's going to stimulate the economy is if everyone got together and said spend it.............. NOW!"

I have hope that the people of the world will wake up and take responsibility for the greedy jerks that have taken over our governments, and free ourselves again from tyranny.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:28 PM
I can tell you one thing....

Not having kids helps a lot, those little suckers can drain your bank account in no time

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:29 PM
Actually, I'm in debt a bit, but otherwise, I'm not doing to bad. I know debt sounds pretty bad, but I was between jobs, and had been getting pretty badly reduced pay from my old one. New job, should have my debts paid off within the next one or two pay periods, maybe a little more.
With my extra pay, my house is defined better off, not that we were that bad off to begin with... well, we're not great, my mom spends cash like it burns, but all over, we could definitely be worse.
For my area, we've been better. Though Pensacola's actually picking up. Milton is to, but most of the plans are going to take a few years to go through. All in all, could be better, could be a lot worse though.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:29 PM
I make around 350 a week, working full time. Rent is 550, cable phone & internet around 120.. I dont eat very well, lots of ramen noodles and other canned and dry goods. I actually find myself spending more on gas than food probably 80 a week, just to get back and forth from work. I had to see a doctor the other week, the bill came I looked at it and laughed, tossed it aside. No way I can pay them 500 right away. On top of this, I also pay about 280 a month for child support and 120 for car insurance. Thankfully gas and electric is very cheap in my building. No more than 30 a month between the 2 bills. I've saved up here and there and bought some nice things once in a great while, but it's a struggle month to month. There's no safety net either, strictly paycheck to paycheck. If I lost my job I'd be breaking out the camping gear.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:34 PM
reply to post by Kingalbrect79

ATS members are so sweet. I've had three replies, four flags ad four stars already. Kingalbrect79, I feel you. My step brother lived in NYC, recently sold everything and moved into a cabin in the smoky mountains in Tennessee. His best new friend's is "gums" and they sit on the porch shooting and eating whatever goes by. Works for him but I couldn't do it.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:36 PM
I was salary @650 a week. I was living paycheck to paycheck as well. I know how you feel. I have started trading off all of my excess projects and things for the future and I am starting to collect the essentials. I have had an extensive collection of knives for years, but I am also trading off alot of my older automotive projects for those who can afford it for simple things like guns and camping gear. I don't need all these things, and I will be hopefully prepared if something goes down. I just hate to think of the possibility, and of what people will do to each other to survive.

I think if this country goes under, then the depression would be the "up" side of the argument, all out hell would be the other.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:37 PM
To be honest I now treat life as a hustle. Back then I would take what an employer would pay me, now I must play hard ball and get what I can to make it.

Movies, out to eat, and driving around don't come once a week like they use to, now we do those things maybe once a month. It's hard but if I stressed on it, I would be miserable. Some things that have changed.

  1. Cell Phone for House Phone
  2. Cut back on internet speed
  3. No driving around town
  4. No more shrimp for snacks
  5. No more Mcdonalds for breakfast

Now, I am tending to use the credit card for more of the basic transactions. The good thing about that, I have 0% interest for a year, so IF I can manage to pay everything off, it works out great.

That stimulus check went straight to gas and insurance. The grocery store bill is now higher than it was last year. I can't even fill the whole cart up without hitting $200. It's crazy, I just wish different times will come.

A Major Crisis Domestically

To be honest, it would cripple our way of life, it can head two directions, it can create jobs for people or it could kill the jobs. Only time will tell.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:45 PM
The crazy part is that in our family it's the thing that mattered that were so expensive we had to cut back. We had a joint gym membership, done, I did an organic juice fast for a week a month, gone, poland spring water, buy buy, we had organic dog food after all those dogs died, no more.

The only upside I can see, is that if the dollar falls even more, the Chinese and the world will be outsourcing to the US. We might even be crossing to Mexico and Canada for jobs. Wouldn't that be a kick in the ass?

[edit on 7/1/2008 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:49 PM
We are a family of three living on an income where my husband makes 17 and hour.

We have an $800 mortgage, $480 car payment, plus bills. $80 a week in gas.
120 a month health insurance. cant drop it, I am ill. Groceries are 120 a week, and that just gets us by.

My wedding ring that we paid 5 grand for is now in the pawn shop. I need to come up with the money to get it out to sell it because Im not letting it go for 1,200 I borrowed, and its now worth 7grande.

My husband donates blood.

I have sold all my other gold jewelry. Gas is killing us. My husbands commute is and hour and a half each way to work but we got out priced in the PHX area.
Not to mention I wanted out of the city.

Now gas is going up . My husband hears today at work they may cut hours in half. He has highest senority but they have a policy that they do not lay off, just cut everyones hours. This happens, we are toast. We will loose the car and the house, and then I don't know where we would live.

Cat got sick and had to put him down. Could not afford treatment. Had him longer than my husband.
This is happening to a lot of others too.

So ya, it is tough and scary. There just is not anything else to give up here.
Next week I drop the phone and am going to try the internet phone box thing that is 20 a year. My neighbor is going to go halves with us on the delivered water, and we will share it.

Then my husband gets a ticket on the way to work for a windshield, and car registration is due this week, and the battery on my nissan dies.

God I tell ya, this sucks!!! ... SO thats how people like us are making it.
Just a juggle .

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:53 PM
Great replies, All and great thread, Schroedinger.

I have definitely noticed food has gone up a lot since the same time last year. I won't even talk about gas because it's obvious to everyone. Basically I just try to be strict with the budget and only buy things I need. If I have some left over I buy something for myself but I never, EVER pay full price. I wait to buy cosmetics, shampoo, skin care when it's on sale. And I pretty much exclusively shop at Winners (TJ Maxx for all the Yanks) and Suzy Shier (LOL notoriously cheap). It's expensive being a woman! And there's always ebay for the odd purchase.

I saw the OP mentioned Costco and I just have to say...I have never been in a Costco in the US but I went to the Costco here in my neighborhood and walked right back out. It was the biggest ripoff ever! Once I calculated the prices it was actually more expensive than the grocery store or office supply or whatever.

I also frequent Walmart and stock up on things that are on sale at the grocery store. The weekly flyer is your friend! Good Luck to everyone out there.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:53 PM
reply to post by amatrine

I don't know what to say, I am literally in tears right now reading your story.
I'm starting to think that maybe it was a bad idea starting this thread.
It feels so helpless.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:55 PM
reply to post by amatrine

I second that, I had water in my eyes. I feel for you so much. I will pray for your family. Man, what can I say.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:58 PM
I had a very good income until recently. My employer went out of business and then I got a chronic illness that impaired my ability to search for a new job for a while. I have been unable to find work due to the poor economy and due, in part, to the effect of outsourcing.

I never thought this could happen to me since I have a PhD in electrical engineering from a top university as well as two masters degrees. It just doesn't matter what my technical skills are. You can hire teams of well trained engineers in China for 1/8 of my cost.

Once my unemployment insurance runs out and my bank accounts are drained I'm not sure what I will do. My oldest son is at college age, but right now he probably is not going to go, even though he got into every college he applied to, since he is a bright student. We can't even afford state college.

This my friends is the new America. Slavery for the masses.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:58 PM
Noo, don't mean to make you cry. I am not crying.

All I can do is talk to people and tell them to wake up.

My husband is a staunch Bush supporter who thinks the government is on his side. I get in some heated debates with him to the point that makes me cry that he , and so many others do not want to see the what is going on.

I do not think he is so much ignorant , in that he is very optimistic person, and thinks things will get better. No matter how ill I am , he says you will feel better tomorrow. So I am the one who has to prepare for the worst. I am the one who stores food and seeds. He thinks I am being negative, but my preparedness has helped us in the past.

It just angers me though that everyone lets it get this bad. I wish there was something I could do.


posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 11:00 PM
reply to post by SevenThunders

Is there nothing to be done with scholarships?

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 11:00 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

not sure what to say - except I do better if I manage to pull myself away from the news

and I'm a news junkie - so it's not easy

especially with the internet - we're all so plugged in these days - and the world seems so small

if it's happening in Darfur - feels like it's happening here - especially if you actually care

a couple of years ago - when things weren't that great - my company went thru a series of layoffs that finally got me - in an economy that had no jobs

so turned to freelancing - which went well - mostly - but now I'm losing clients because they're folding - so odd to watch it happening - like economic slo-mo

can't help but wonder if the mood - in this country at least (USA) - isn't waiting on the upcoming election

everyone waiting on change - or absence of change - or even the illusion of change - just waiting

I have to say - it's not something I wish for - but I think if the economy totally tanks and we're really in for it - we'll deal with it

we'll pull together somehow - and not just because we have to

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