I was thinking this morning about the economy. I assume everyone has been reading and watching how things play out with nerves jangling. Both main stream (BAH) and not so main stream media has been telling the story of our futures in this country. It does not look as bright as it did eight or ten years ago. It will not go away just because we have a new president. It will not go away by the end of 2009. Let's face it the house market is no where near tanking and the commercial real estate market has not even weighed in. Many economists are saying the commercial real estate market is going to be the killer to our economy next as it has not even started to fall apart as of yet. Most people, economists and back seat economy watchers a like, say that until all the "bad mojo" works out of the market nothing will start to look up and that is not going to be tomorrow, this year and possibly not even next year.
Kevin is a chronic MSNBC watcher and knows more about the market then a lot of people. He reads obscure articles about this subject and seems well versed on the situation. Because of this, we are really working this year as in pas year to play the part of the Millionaire Next Door. We live in a house we can truly afford - it is a bit bigger then we wanted initially but the price was right and the neighborhood is fine. We both work. We own both our cars outright and we do not have debt besides the house payment which went down greatly as of last week! We makes extra extra payments on the house so we can pay it down as quickly as possible. We have taken to living under a horribly strict budget even though we could choose to live without it. We make decent money and we work hard. We have some expenses that others do not like having to visit our relatives in far away places every year by plane and some thing we committed to a long time ago which is to take one nuclear family vacation every year.
None the less, I am scared, I have to admit. I have taken to turning off the radio, not reading certain newspapers/magazine/Internet articles, and trying to avoid certain things on TV. It weighs heavily on my mind for our family, for my kids.
I hope that most of the gloom and doom that people keep talking about is not true but even in our insular world here in this town of okay housing prices and a somewhat solid work force I see signs of the decay. All those new commercial sites remain empty on many streets around town and have been empty for what is going on two and three years. Someone owns some of those properties and will default on them eventually. There are foreclosures in just about every neighborhood we drive through including our own (only one that I think I know of too date but still - there is a good way to drive down the property "investment" that used to be SO great and seems to have vastly eroded in the last two years...) The number of homeless people outside the soup kitchen seems to have tripled. We pass it daily and these "homeless" people well many look like me. They are fairly well dressed and they are driving decent cars. But they have this look on their faces - they are wiped out.
Even in our job market, we are hearing more and more folks say we are not going to hire a physician this year. Why? The economy. AND the physicians who are in practice who might have moved because of an unhappy work situation are staying put. Why? They cannot sell their homes (generally the most expensive homes on the market!) And older physicians who generally would be retiring this year at 60 or 65 are not retiring, leaving less openings in the market. Why? Hello 401k's (403c) are taking an ass kickin' forcing those older docs to stay in practice. It has been an interesting last half of the year, even in our market.
I read a few blogs that have been helpful to me to keep perspective. One of those is this blog. This one has been helpful for me to keep positive, to remember that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and to keep trying because this will not last forever. I am trying to be positive and keep a good outlook but some days... OY it is hard.
How about you? Are you all doing anything to help save money in your household that is working? Do you feel scared like me? Or are you just thinking it will go away sooner rather then later? Let me know so I can either I feel terribly ALONE in this nervousness or commune with some of you!