Middle America Speaks
Found this in Yahoo. In the Boston/NYC/Philly "megalopolis" this family would have been living on a very tight budget BEFORE the Great Recession but as the author stated they were living comfortably in Texas until the recession hit them.
I feel sorry for them but it is heartening to read that this couple accept that times are very tough and have had to make the changes necessary to survive.
Unfortunately I do not think we are going to see an increase in wages for a few years. While it has been reported and some politicians proudly stated that there are more job openings than qualified applicants I take that with a grain of salt. There may be many openings but we all know that salaries and benefits across the entire country have been reduced. On top of that I wonder how many people took pay cuts in the last few years and now realize that it will be several years before they can even hope to receive enough increases to make them whole again. Most are just happy to have a job.
2009 was an off year for me but thankfully we have not had any debt in years and cut back enough to avoid tapping into our savings. Some of our future plans have been altered and there is no chance my wife and I can retire exactly as we planned years ago.
This Spring my wife's 1999 model year car was just about at it's "end of life" even though it only had 79,000 miles on the odometer. I finally agreed that she needed a new car. I was planning on buying her a small car, primarily because she likes them but fortunately I went to see an old friend in the car business. After a thorough discussion he told me that since she commutes just a few miles each day a lease was the best option. In fact he said buying her a new car for cash or even financing one for three to five years would be plain stupid for us. She is now driving a mid size car, is very happy and has about 1,750 miles on the odometer after four months.
My 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee is still running fine but needs a lot of maintenance and although I would like to put a new set of tires on it before winter it's going to have to wait till Spring.
Personally I don't "Blame Bush" or Obama for the current state of America. I don't think either party and the Tea Party have all the answers. I do believe that our elected leaders from both parties lack the "balls" to make hard decisions and be 100% honest with the people.
How have you been effected by the Great Recession and what have you done to protect your and your childrens' future?
Re: Middle America Speaks
No bonus, no raise this year...but annual report revenue was up 14%, op income was up 42% and margin up 2.2% ...and the dividend stayed the same....the board is using the economic climate to fatten the coffers. Bastages.
Stock is up, rumors of a sale...it does add up. We shall see.
Taking advantage of the mortgage rates, I just started the refi paperwork yesterday to lower my payment to have more cash on hand if needed. In the interim, I will push the extra cash to my 401k...hey at 4.25% mortgage, I make much more in the 401 then paying my loan off early...not to mention the tax break on funneling income to a qualified plan....now if I can just go Expat at 60 and funnel off a bunch of money to an overseas account...ooops did I say that...
Re: Middle America Speaks
Expat deals can be sweet, Frank, but I don't know anything about offshore money. Just trying to save some here.
Comcast is not rolling in cash, since it is losing market share in those markets in which FIOS has been deployed, but they have enough to continue to invest in technology, albeit at a reduced rate every year. Only saving grace is that the economy has caused Verizon to halt new expansion until it increases its footprint in existing markets significantly.
Prior to joining Comcast, I went over 6 years without a raise, and in fact shrinking salary due to forced job changes (being outsourced once and being with a company that cut most of its divisions - Lucent), and decreasing health and other benefits, as well as increasing debt due to helping out children :doh2:
Here at CC, they still have enough fat to squeeze out before hitting employees. However, they've started to offshore resources, and its only a matter of time before that starts impacting employees' salaries and jobs. So far, only contractor slots are being replaced by offshore resources but, like DEP getting their foot in the door w.r.t. closures for piping plovers, now that they have a taste for offshoring, it will only increase.
Retirement? I can't foresee retirement in any way, shape or form for at least 12 years... and I have no idea if I'll be able to survive in my current business until then. Hopefully I can retain a decent enough skill set to leverage until then.
As to starting my own business, I had an idea, but the business plan (roughly in my head, not on paper) is too shaky, and the start up costs too high. Frankly, if I'm honest with myself, what I had in mind was just plain stupid (common with ideas of mine).
I paid off my '05 Jeep Liberty, which I will keep until I run into the ground. I had given my '02 Jeep Grand Cherokee to my youngest daughter as part of the deal of living at home while going to school. Last year, I helped her put a new rebuilt engine in it, which comes with a 100K, 3 year warranty. I did just purchase (uh, mortgage) a 2010 Ford Escape, 4 cyl, 4wd (really awd, I think) because my 2008 Chevy HHR just doesn't cut it in winter. I needed something that would give me 25+ mpg, which this does, yet has the physical small suv characteristics (like the jeeps I've owned do) of not being too big, but up off the ground enough for my wife to slide in/out of (with a handle). The HHR was to sedan-like (ie too low) for her.
I am very thankful that 4 children are now done with school (or any school I'm subsidizing anyway!). We were blessed by our youngest basically going to school for free due to scholarships. Had that not been the case, I don't think we could have sent her due to my aforementioned job.
We downsized last October, in the process cut our total debt in half, allowed me to kick back up my 401k contributions, which had been shaved to a minimum to break even with monthly expenses, and generally swung the change our total net worth back in the positive direction, even with the continued decrease in the value of our new home due to the poor climate.
Re: Middle America Speaks
tangent to this thread but not a bad article:
What's an Entrepreneur? The Best Answer Ever
This classic 25-word definition pares entrepreneurship to its essence and explains why it's so hard. And so addictive. As an entrepreneur, you surely have an elevator pitch, the pithy 15-second synopsis of what your company does and why, and you can all but repeat it in your sleep. But until recently, I?d never seen a good elevator pitch for entrepreneurship itself?that is, what you do that all entrepreneurs do?
Now I've seen it, and it comes from Harvard Business School, of all places. It was conceived 37 years ago by HBS professor Howard Stevenson. I came across it in the book Breakthrough Entrepreneurship (which I highly recommend) by entrepreneur and teacher Jon Burgstone and writer Bill Murphy, Jr. Of Stevenson?s definition, Burgstone says, ?people often need to say it out loud 50 or 100 times before they really understand what it means.? Here it is:
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.I talked to Stevenson about his classic definition this weekend. Back in 1983, he told me, people tended to define entrepreneurship almost as a personality disorder, a kind of risk addiction. ?But that didn?t fit the entrepreneurs I knew,? he said. ?I never met an entrepreneur who got up in the morning saying ?Where?s the most risk in today?s economy, and how can I get some? Most entrepreneurs I know are looking to lay risk off?on investors, partners, lenders, and anyone else.? As for personality, he said, ?The entrepreneurs I know are all different types. They?re as likely to be wallflowers
as to be the wild man of Borneo.?
By focusing on entrepreneurship as a process, his definition opened the term to all kinds of people. Plus, it matched the one demographic fact HBS researchers already knew about entrepreneurs?they were more likely to start out poor than rich. ?They see an opportunity and don?t feel constrained from pursuing it because they lack resources,? says Stevenson. ?They?re used to making do without resources.?
The perception of opportunity in the absence of resources helps explain much of what differentiates entrepreneurial leadership from that of corporate administrators: the emphasis on team rather than hierarchy, fast decisions rather than deliberation, and equity rather than cash compensation.
What would you expect, asks Stevenson: When you don?t have the cash to boss people around, like in a corporation, you have to create a more horizontal organization. ?You hire people who want what you have and not what you don?t have,? Stevenson says. In other words, entrepreneurs offer their team members a larger share of a vision for a future payoff, rather than a smaller share of the meager resources at hand. Opportunity is the only real resource you have.
Or, as Burgstone puts it:
Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.And that, folks, is what makes entrepreneurship so XXXXXXX' hard. And so XXXXXXX' necessary.
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