Home > Archive: July, 2010

Archive for July, 2010

Keep One Eye on the Big Picture

July 25th, 2010 at 01:45 am

I need to be one of those lizards with the two eyes which can go in different directions. Actually, sometimes in the AM, before I put my glasses on...... mmmm, not going there. I had a very enlightening morning. Its the weekend of my 30th class reunion. About 9 of us got together for breakfast this morning. These are all girls (?) that I hung around with in school, some stayed local, some are here from all over the country. This is the first time that I felt we are all living in the same universe, country, life etc. Its quite a diverse group, executive types, SAHM's and everything in between. I have seen most of these same girls every 5 years at the other reunions, and maybe its just the dinner/party atmosphere of the actual reunion, which is tonight, but this is probably the nicest conversation that I have ever had with some of them. At this moment in time, for better or worse, we are ALL on the same page. EVERYONE is hurting/nervous financially. Not one person was sure that their job will still be there in a year. We are all scrambling to decide how to fund a retirement when pension plans have taken a major hit, probably, (we decided), no social security to speak of, we're buying/selling/refinancing/losing our homes, and still raising families! If the pollsters want to know how Americans are doing compared to five years ago, I can tell them who to talk to! I always feel slightly silly/stupid/uninformed at these things, because it seems like everyone else is doing so great! And I'm still OK. Nothing wrong with OK, it's just...OK. Some of us thought we saw it coming, some were completely surprised, but we all agreed that we won't be looking at finances in the same way, maybe ever again. It's easy to get so lost in the day to day, work, home, kids, school cycle, that its hard to believe things can change so fast, and permanently! It may now be too late to correct some of those old financial gaffes. The girl that's losing her house may never be able to buy another. By the time the fallout disappears, financial, credit-wise etc. she may not be able to get the cash together to get financing again, and if she does, she will be hustling to get it paid off and be able to retire at any reasonable age. Another knows that she will probably never retire, she will have to work until she is physically not able to do so anymore. There is an unemployed teacher, and a nurse (a nurse!) Now to be fair, they could both certainly go elsewhere and find employment, but that would mean uprooting their families, and employed spouses, and there is no guarantee it would be any better! Will the spouse find a job? They will lose benefits/pensions at the job they have, will they find something comparable? We are all on the cusp of almost 50, statistics prove older workers have a harder time (than usual) of finding good paying jobs. Employers want young, cheap kids that they can train. I saw a mention on the national news this week about the unemployment benefits extension possibly being voted on,passed. The economist they had said that of every 5 people unemployed today, 4 of them will not be able to find a job. Mathematically speaking there simply are no jobs out there for the other 4 to find! Anyway, no matter how involved your financial life has become, how many coupons you clip, how many buckets of laundry soap you make, you can't afford to ignore the big picture. It catches up with us all in the end!

The Periscope of Finances

July 19th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I always loved the old war movies, when the submarine captain would look thru the periscope, and see what was happening "up there." I wanted a periscope of my own! To see what was coming, and dodge that torpedo! I was reminded of this when I read a blog just now about student debt. The writer was lamenting about his bad spending habits for part of his student years, and how he wished he knew then what he knows now etc. etc. I had a similar conversation with my DD#2 a few days ago.. She was commenting (whining) about her $50 a month student loan payment. She has a friend in her FIFTH year of college, and has taken out many "generous" loans to finance it all. Yes, she has a part-time job, but she doesn't make enough for gas for the car most weeks. Her Grandmother has co-signed a lot of these loans, because her parents credit rating is in the sub-basement range. So I asked her how much she thinks her friends payments might be, when (if) she finally graduates? She was speechless! (and thats something) And if she thought about Grandma, who is on the hook for a lot of that balance if she defaults? A big dose of reality! Even when you think you've got your eye on the periscope, a torpedo can find you!