Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lubrication For the Economy

"Lubrication for the economy"; that's what the news media is calling the bailout. An alternate title for this post is: Bend Over and Smile Taxpayers!
All I have to say on this matter is: it's a sad reflection on our gov't when they unconstitutionally use taxpayer's hard-earned money to reward irresponsible behavior!

I have ZERO faith in the greed-driven, fantasy world of Wall Street, along with their lackeys on Madison Avenue. MARK MY WORDS, this bailout will fix nothing for "We the People" of this country. To the thousands and thousands of you that contacted your Senators and Representatives about not voting for the bailout; stick to your threat! Don't vote for these people ever again! The next politician that screams "socialism", when referring to exempting the insurance industry from our health care system, is likely to wind up with my foot down his/her throat!

Nothing will change after the presidential election, no matter who is elected! Our next president will be unable to implement his plans, because there won't be any money for them. Our tax dollars are tied up paying for wars and corporate bailouts.

I've got news for our politicians. Rural America is WAY past recession. We're quickly falling into depression! Property values, in our county, fell 20-25% this year. Our local banks are solvent, because they didn't jump on the sub-prime bandwagon. Will they be rewarded for acting responsibly? I doubt it. We live in the forgotten netherlands of "outstate". Our citizens struggle to pay their bills, while all our tax dollars go to big city development.

We no longer have a retirement fund. We had to cash it in, 2 years ago, in order to stay eligible for our state's health insurance. Next year we'll probably have to cash in our whole life insurance policies in order to be eligible. We TRIED to be responsible by living within our means and stashing away a minuscule nest egg over the last 30 years. Were we rewarded for this behavior? Nope; we were penalized! We re-invested our money in the only place we could: our home. Did this raise the value of our property? Nope; the value dropped 20%!

In the last year, my tips have dropped by 25%, while our cost of living has risen by 15-20%. L's hours will more than likely be cut by 30%, or more, for the winter. Our roof/porch project wound up costing us $2800 more than we planned. L lost 2 weeks and I lost 3 days of pay to get L's eyes fixed. On the bright side, we're debt free, with the exception of the $3700 left on our garage loan.

So what's my plan for surviving the winter? Pare down our budget...again! When L's place of employment closed 6 years ago, the first thing I did was knock down our budget. The first thing to go was the cell phone. Next, I didn't renew any of our magazine subscriptions. Then I reduced our cable and phone bills by $20/month apiece. We struggled through the following year with L working a series of part-time jobs, while collecting reduced unemployment benefits. When L landed a full-time job, it was still 25% less than he had been making at his former job. BUT, during this time we managed to keep paying our bills, and finished paying off our home and truck! That freed up $800/month from our budget, which became our salvation.

The following 5 years have found our small-town economy sliding further into the shitter, so we've been forced to make further cuts in our spending. The last vacation we took was 4 1/2 years ago. Last year we cut out the 6-10 meals/year that we ate out. We also cut the 2-3 movies/year that we watched at the movie theater. This year we cut all travel, including the 300 mile trip to visit relatives and weekend camping trips. Now we try to limit our 2 mile trips to town to one/week.

Next month, I won't be renewing our $125/year subscription to our local paper. I will buy the Monday paper for the grocery ads and read the news on the paper's website. We have limited our remaining home projects, for the season, to the materials we have on hand. This means that our old porch will remain in our yard until next spring, when we can afford the dumping fees. I will make it through the winter with my 6-yr-old jacket and 4-yr-old boots. We just turned our furnace on, for the night, this week, when our temps dipped into the 20F range. We will try to keep our furnace set at 65F until the weather dips below zero. We will be eating more pork and chicken, and less beef. Turkey burger casseroles and homemade soups will be our mainstay. I'll be cruising the internet for inexpensive, tasty, new recipes. The 2 light fixtures we use the most have been switched to fluorescent bulbs, and the rest of the lights will be OFF as much as possible.

We'll survive the winter with what we already have. Board games, reading, photography, and creative cooking will be our entertainment. We have food, shelter, water, and LOVE. What more could we ask for? We are truly blessed.


At 10/05/2008 11:53 AM, Blogger Squirl said...

As I was reading this I was feeling so bad about all the sacrifices that you guys have had to make. Then I got to the last paragraph and realized that you already have what's truly necessary in life, and you know. Blessings to you all!

At 10/05/2008 1:05 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I don't even live in the States and the bailout thing pisses me off. With that money, the government could have given every citizen of the US 1 million bucks! That would have been a better use of all that money! And all this pro-capitalist "free market economy" rhetoric is such bullshit. You don't have a free market economy - certainly not anymore! Unfettered capitalism is what put the US in the shitter, and now look what's happened.

I really feel for you Tshs. I live on just under $1000 bucks a month, and like you, I have to budget closely and do without a lot of nice little extras. But, I have no debt, a good roof over my head, I eat decent food, and I have a great family. That's all anyone needs!

At 10/05/2008 9:35 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Incidentally, I don't understand why chicken is so much cheaper across the border than it is up here. It's the most expensive meat around, yet when I go cross border shopping, I can get 4 huge boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $5! I'd pay more than twice that up here, if not three times! I eat more beef/buffalo than I do chicken. I eat more shrimp, actually! I don't get it!

At 10/06/2008 8:02 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Amen. I get pissed too about following the rules and doing all the right things, only to get penalized for it in the end. Hang in there, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

At 10/06/2008 2:57 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/06/2008 2:58 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

This brings tears to my eyes. Not the doing without, but the last paragraph. What a statement!!

I was nearly standing up as I was reading this, cheering you on, amen-ing this and that. I agree wholeheartedly, and like WC, I don't get it. I don't think the bailout is gonna work either. I thought, too, "Hey! How 'bout giving we the people that money and see what we do with it, idiots!"


But, as you expressed, we may be down but are not out. We can figure out our budgets to survive.

Tom and I did the old budget evaluating thing, too, and have cut expenses as you guys have. I applaud you for being debt-free. We still have a mortgage, but our home values are stable here where we are as a new big hospital went in a few miles from our neighborhood. Still, the pay doesn't increase as fast as inflation, so we are learning to live more pioneer-like. The furnace is kept off except to take the chill off in the morning. (Our temps only get to low 40's at night.) We think about what we buy, what we eat, make our own food as opposed to eating out, preserve food during harvest, walk more, plan driving around errands, etc.

It seems like a bad thing to have to work so hard at living rather than having the money to make life easier, but look at how we respond. It's encouraging to know we don't give up, isn't it. A good example for our children, who never complain. (I presume Z never complains.) Our girls are right there with us at sticking it to the man by living differently from all around us.

You go girl!!

At 10/06/2008 7:07 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, my life is like the old adage:"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger". I've learned a lot on this journey and know enough to treasure those things that money can't buy. Thanks!

WC, I've always said that what our gov't needs is more "poor folks" in office. You and I could show them a thing or two about balancing a budget!

I noticed the same thing about chicken prices the last time we were up there. Sirloin steak was cheaper than chicken. What IS up with that? It costs a lot less to raise chickens than it does to raise cattle!

Here, I can get chicken thighs for $.89/lb on sale. Whole chickens are often on sale for $3.99 for a 6 lb chicken. Bone-in chicken breasts are usually $1.29/lb.

Beef, on the other hand, runs $2.99/lb for hamburger and $3.89/lb for roast. I switched to turkey burger for $1.49/lb and only buy roast and steak when it falls to under $3/lb.

VV, I don't understand when living within our means became a bad thing. Rewarding this kind of bad behavior has given us a nation of spoiled, entitled brats!

Cherie, it's a mixed blessing that the frivolous things we cut out of our budgets brings us closer together as a family. Too bad that greedy CEOs can't be forced to find this blessing.

It's so funny that you mention our kids not complaining. No, my kids have NEVER complained about not having all the frivolous things in life either. Neither of my kids have ever believed that we're poor. They have both said, at various times, that: "We have everything we need, and we have FUN!" How can I argue with that? ;)

At 10/06/2008 7:16 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

...And ground turkey and chicken is even more expensive! Weird.

At 10/07/2008 1:18 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

I know this feeling real well. We turned our furnace on about a week ago. We are on a budget plan though with our gas. But they wont put our electric on one for some reason. Oh well. At least we know what we are paying for gas each month. But it sounds like you have it all figured out. That is a good thing though...

At 10/07/2008 3:22 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

OK, perusing a flyer from one of our big chains, bone-in chicken breasts = $4.49/lb.

At 10/07/2008 6:25 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

WC, they wouldn't be selling much chicken around here at THAT price. That's insane!

Tweets, we're not on a budget plan for anything. With fuel oil at $4/gallon, I have to put money away year around in order to pay the winter's fuel bills.
They recently raised our electric rate 15%. Now they want to raise it another 25%, but the State Attorney General said no way. We'll see who wins that fight. :(

At 10/08/2008 8:11 AM, Blogger zydeco fish said...

I agree with you on that bailout. It stinks. I feel like a miser, because I still haven't turn on the furnace!

We have premium chickens in Canada :-)

At 10/09/2008 8:41 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

You are blessed, sweetie, but it makes me furious to see how much the mismanagement of the economy has cost you. Am with WC, the bailout is nonsense and helps the wrong folks. Hope things turn around fast and that the right people get elected. Enough is enough.

At 10/11/2008 9:20 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ZF, I've yet to find ANYONE I know who agrees with the bailout!

I don't know if your chickens have a superior flavor. I opted for steak, it was cheaper. ;)

Bridg, I try not to dwell on the hardships our economy has forced on us. If I did, I would soon become a bitter, hateful, shell of a human being. I HAVE to focus on the good aspects of our life to keep my sanity. ;)

I don't think ANY of our candidates will fix this mess. They're all bought and paid for. :(


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