Thursday, February 5, 2009

The "E" Word


We hear about it every day: the Economy. How is it affecting you and your family?

Back around Thanksgiving, Hubby learned his hours were being cut back from eight hours a day to seven hours a day. That doesn't seem too terrible until you break it down into dollar amounts. If, for instance, a person working eight hours a day earns $3200 a month, in losing an hour a day, that person would lose $400 a month. Luckily, gas prices fell and a lower paycheck meant lower taxes. But still . . . . Where would we economize?

Around the same time, my job got really busy and I found myself working overtime. Not a lot, but some. Enough to help offset the difference in Hubby's pay. Also around that time, Lindy at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks first mentioned the idea of me teaching a quilt class, and I soon realized that would also help offset the reduction in Hubby's income.

More recently, Hubby's hours were increased back to eight hours a day because one of the employees left and the company was shorthanded. My bit of overtime work has continued. I've started teaching quilt classes. And now, there's my fledgling quilt pattern business. So things are okay--for now.

My work as a legal secretary in the personal injury defense field means my job is reasonably secure from economic highs and lows. The fact of the matter is that in hard times, more people sue. Hubby, on the other hand, works in the automotive parts industry, and we all know the automotive industry as a whole isn't very healthy these days, so his job is less secure.

Because it's hard to know what the future will bring, we've cut back in little ways, tried to increase our income as best we can, and are starting to look at ways to pay down our debt. We could do better, but I think we're doing okay.

I read a story in our local newspaper yesterday about people trying to make ends meet by taking a second job, starting up an online business, or selling things on eBay, so I guess I fit right in with the changes we've made recently.

How about you? Have these uncertain economic times meant a change in your life-style?

21 comments:

quiltdolls said...

I care for my autistic child & we barely make it. Some of my money comes from the state & the other from child support which is not always coming in.
I saw oprah the other day & this woman unplugs all her appliance & stuff when not in use. I have started that. I hope it shows on the next gas & electric.
I have really been using more & more of my stash. AND it feels great. I had fun at road but, we are planning going to long beach this year again. So I have been saving all my dollars & my quarters. I have saved alot in quarters in the last couple of weeks. I keep my dimes for the bus. Which cost me $1.10 each way.
to kim from kim

Nancy said...

The DH and I used to eat out 4 out of 7 nights a week (it's just us two). We usually eat at places like Longhorn and Olive Garden. We've cut back to once or twice a month, cut down to pizza places and sub shops, and my crockpot is seeing a whole lot more usage. We stay out of the mall unless we have no other choice, and I haven't been to Joanns since before Christmas!

Suzan said...

Thankfully, I work in the beer industry as a buyer and logistics manager for a large SE Pennsylvania wholesaler so I feel a great deal of security in knowing that my employment is safe. However, with a new mortgage and a fairly new car payment I am looking for ways to cut costs 'cause there is just this one paycheck coming in. As soon as I have some inventory I am going to open an Etsy shop. I use surge protectors to turn off my computer and televisions when I am not using them. I have gone to great lengths to insulate my home after my first HUGE electric bill. Especially with the gas prices creeping back up, my quilty friends and I carpool when we go hunting for fabric. Other than fabric, I never buy anything unless it is on sale and right now just about everything is!

Pat said...

I'm eligible for full retirement in August. I won't be going just yet. The Post Office finances are in very bad shape and they are using every means available to push employees out the door! Not a fun place to work....

Like you, my DH is in the automotive field. He's a mechanic. You would think business would be up because people are hanging on to their cars longer but that's just not the case. People are only repairing what they absolutely need to... regular maintenance is down tremendously. He's doing okay but because he doesn't have a guaranteed hourly rate, he has to put in a lot more hours to make a paycheck.

We've been aggressively paying down our mortgage and other debt so that means seldom eating out. We're probably doing things now the way we should have been for the last decade or two...lol.

I have a nice stash and though I do enhance it on occasion I make more thoughtful choices now.

I'm also teaching two classes at the local quilt shop for small projects from a spring "Art to Heart" book :-) Luckily, their business is doing very well.

ratherbquilting said...

My DH is a carpenter and everyone knows how the construction business has tanked. He was laid off in October and has been doing everything humanly possible to try to find a job. He has taken two different courses offered by the carpenters' union so that he can get certified in different areas. It's scary, because no one is building anything and no one is hiring. As far as cutting back...I have cut back on fabric purchases and we eat out less. Our grocery bill is lower, because I've found lots of tasty but more economical recipes online...Waiting for some STIMULUS!!!!

Nancy said...

My DH is a pharmacist and works in the prisons so he is fairly secure. I haven't worked since we moved here two years ago. I only buy fabric for certain projects. I clip coupons and more importantly I remmeber to use them. I never go to the grocery store without a list and watch the sales for everything.
Oh, I do watch two neighbor kids after school for pocket money.

Carole said...

WOW Girl, you've been busy! Congrad on your new business venture! As for the economy, I just cannot believe how much the cost of healthy food has gone up. I cannot for the life of me keep my grocery bill under $150 a week and we're only 3 humans and 3 felines! We don't eat process foods and that's what is the cheapest! And they wonder why Americans are obese! Cheers!

Beth said...

It's scary. Never thought I'd see the day that there would be layoffs at law firms. Fortunately, my firm has been ok so far, there have been none that I know of. Fingers crossed! I am seriously trying to be good and put what I can into savings and only buying quilting stuff that I need for finishing a project. So far so good.

Darlene said...

My DH is retired (very fixed income) and I'm self employed however I took on a parttime job a year ago to help with the sudden expenses. It's a very scary time so we've scaled back a lot. I don't spend in the quilt stores like I used and I've decided I'm very OK with that. It's been fun to rediscover everything I had to have in the past. LOL

PunkiePie said...

Stocking up the freezer and remembering to eat what's there versus going out for dinner. We eat out maybe once every two months. Staying away from the credit cards and just taking things day by day. I hope things start to turn around soon!

Judy said...

Well, let see. Hubby's business is up for sale but luckily they are extremely profitable and loads of people are offering to buy them but new employer means all new stuff again and this company was great at giving us benefits. Plus for the first time in 25 years he's stuck working 40 hour weeks! He usually worked 65 to 70 and had almost a 3rd of his yearly income was overtime! We economized when I had to stop working years back but we still do it now too. I watch what I buy, we save during the summer months and supplement during the slower winter season. Our bills are very low and I've bundled every utility I can. Luckily we bought the condo right before the housing market started going up so our mortgage is super low.

You do what you can really, but it's scary to see 66,000 losing jobs in one day!

Christy said...

I know what you mean. My husband works in the aircraft business which for the private company that he works for has its ups and downs but mostly secure. We have dealt with this for the last 12 years so we are used to it. I work for an environmental consulting firm that is doing pretty well so I'm secure. However things are costing more. We too are trying to bring our debt down live within our means etc. I think we all have to stop and think about what is going on because I don't think anything is really secure. I wished I lived closer to take some of your classes! Have a great day.
Christy

Shanna said...

We have had to manage in a variety of ways. I only spend $150 every 2 weeks on groceries, we limit our eating out as much as possible and when we do eat out, it comes out of the grocery budget. It helps us become more aware of the cost of dining out verses the cost of eating at home. We decided to cut back on our cable bill (which we haven't even noticed!) and to go with equal payment plans for heat and electricity. Helps during the months when each goes through the roof. I buy things that are store brands. If it not on sale or a store brand, I usually don't buy it. My job is fairly secure. I work in Clinical Trials Research and that is a huge industry right now. My husband teaches at a small private school, so the future for him might waver. I am finding that the most worthwile things don't cost anything...like time with my family, spending extra time with my kids, and focusing on the positives in life!

Sinta said...

Last year, soon after my husband got out of the hospital we had to move because the owner of the home we rented didn't pay her mortgage. My husband has been unemployed for 1 year now... and reality just dawned on me over the holidays! I'm a little slow:)But my point is: I am content, I have my family, my little things and a nice bed to snuggle down into. What else is there really?

Erin said...

we have been through five job losses in the past ten years the most recent was last January that lasted until september..my hubby is now making the 10.00 at walmart and not eligible for retirement for another five years...and I due to a stroke three years ago am now on soc sec disability but the amount is minimal...so we are in a tiny apartment sold our second car, and live on a very fixed income...no extras...no going out to eat...no frills at all...we lost our home due to job loss and health issues not sub prime mortgage stuff...but we have each other...and I can sew and have online friends and faith...that is what matters in the end..

kcenya1950 said...

The economy is affecting everyone I think. My own hubby was laid off in November. It has been quite an adjustment. We never spent alot on eating out but now we just eat at home. And the quilting budget has definitely been cut. But one way or another things will work out for us all. Look at all the new doors that have opened for you. We just have to see them when they open

debijeanm said...

Once upon a time teachers consoled ourselves that even though we would never be rich, at least we and our families would have health care and security. Those days are gone. Fortunately, I'm covered by my husband's health insurance so I don't have to pay monthly premiums (most of my colleagues pay aaround $900 a month). We are looking at a five- to nine-day reduction in the school year (meaning fewer days pay) next year as well as larger classes and fewer classroom materials. Meanwhile, my younger son (still at home) is only guaranteed two days work as a substitute letter carrier - one of those Saturday - and the USPS is talking about laying off 16,000 workers and eliminating Saturday delivery. Older son is a second year teacher in LAUSD and 2nd year's were threatened with lay-offs mid year this year. That was postponed because of retirements, but they are not safe for next year. Meanwhile, his wife of three years has still not found a job (even though she speaks three languages). So, there is a possibility that on my lesser pay next year I may have three adult children to support.

And I'm still better off than a lot of my colleagues.

What a mess.

Gran said...

Yes, these uncertain times have made a difference in my/our life. My DH was laid off on Jan. 2 and we have been living through the process. (Construction-management.) Our lifestyle was pretty frugal as I retired this past summer. I do work part-time at a quilt shop, and that helps. We are living on unemployment and thankful for that. We have food storage and home supplies on hand so that is a great help. We are still hopeful that he will be hired in his profession.

I know that we can do whatever it takes and live even more frugally ie., planting a garden.... We have each other, our sons, daughter-in-heart and 2 beautiful grandchildren, and they and their well being and love are the most important things to us. I love what Sinta said and I too appreciate snuggling down into our big bed at night. There is always someone worse off.

The dust is starting to settle a little and we have just dealt with the health insurance issues. Now that is/was scary. There are still lots of decisions ahead and like you Kim we are going to start looking for more opportunities to meet our needs.

Chocolate Cat said...

I've picked up a little bit of work in the schools boarding house which helps with school fees and as much as I'd love to plan a holiday we're going to reassess at the end of the year!! Think we're okay but going to be careful in case!!

Amanda said...

My husband is in the paper/pulp business as a corporate construction manager. Things are slow. He was with a company and then another company did a hostile takeover and he had to switch companies. The "new" company spent a lot of money on legal fees and such during their unneccesary hostile takeover that they had to sell the paper part of the company. We were happy in the other company, which is no longer around.

Yes, this economy is affecting us. I don't spend as much money as I used to for quilting. I am trying to use what I have on hand first, and then buy if I need something. I have cut back in other areas, too, such as eating out so much. My husband is a great cook, so really dinner is better here at home.

Like everyone else, I count my blessings. I have also learned (many years ago) to be happy with what I have.

I do worry about cutting my quilting spending and the reason why is because there are so many wonderful people out there who share their passion and design beautiful patterns and fabrics. Then there are the hard working quilt shop owners who depend on us for their livelihood. It's a vicious cycle; one that I hope we can turn around soon.

Having said all of that, I too feel blessed to have a nice home and a wonderful family.

Nan said...

My hubby and I are doing pretty well these days. He's not likely to get laid off from his job, unless his company goes out of business, and I don't think that's too likely. Hubby doesn't want me to work anymore, so I have cut back on my fun purchases, such as fabric, patterns, etc., and we have gone back to having casseroles and buying less at the grocery store, and living more out of our freezer and pantry. We are doing many of the things we did when we were newly married and very poor. I can pinch a penny with the best of 'em!
My heart breaks for all the people who have lost their jobs, and have no way to make ends meet. I count my blessings every day. I am hoping the economy will revive very soon.