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Monday, October 13, 2008

Things I'm Hearing from Folks--How the Economy is Already Impacting Lives

Its one thing to see alot of talk on the news and at various websites but what is going on in the lives of folks I know personally touches base more. Since the stock market started its dive recently I've heard from quite a few folks.

Here in Pokeberry there wasn't that much in the 401k as Hubby has only been with the company a few years, He just got vested a month ago. Still we lost about $13,000. My brother who manages a car dealership thinks he may have lost a huge chunk of his retirement and possibly his kid's college fund. I'm told my Godmother ( I was catholic as a child) has lost 1/2 a million dollars. Since I live in Charlotte several of the folks I work with at the library are married to people who work at Wachovia bank--they have really been hit. One lady says her husband now plans to work until he is 75--I don't know if that's even possible--folks get pushed out of jobs now, and then of course there's no telling if you will be able to work physically that long--maybe/maybe not. Folks with Wachovia of course, are also wondering if they will lose their jobs altogether.

At the moment it seems what folks are losing is 'future money'. Money they were storing up that was matched by employers and that they were counting on having in retirement. Some of them believe it will come back. So far I think loss of 'now money' hasn't effected anyone I know much--except for rising prices. Thankfully gas is going down, although we haven't really seen that much here in Charlotte yet. We are still paying between 3.49 or so and 3.80.

Uncertainty I think is what is hardest. Folks really don't know what to prepare for or how. Many older people insist that this will get better--I'm not so sure. They seem to project a calm attitude about this but I don't know if that is real confidence or just bravado. I think really they are the hardest hit as things may not come back in their lifetime, and they do not have as much time to 're-earn' retirement funds.

Here we are just really reaching. We are hoping to make our daring adventure happen--to realize 'The Dream' of homeownership without a mortgage. To us, that represents a great deal of security and the freeing up of all the money we pay each year currently for rent. As ugly as some old mobile homes are they are looking better and better to us right now. We've had a nice house and we know now that you don't need all the bells and whistles to feel good in life and to be secure. I feel for those who are losing houses now and possibly will be losing them in the near future. Tough times are upon us, but some of us have already been through them for quite awhile.

I wonder how this will impact society in the long term. Will we finally see folks learn to appreciate what they have and to build on more solid ground rather than on paper? Its a hard time in America and the world, but its also an interesting time I think, makes you want to see what will come next and wonder about it all.

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