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October 13, 2008

The Economy, So What?

J0433131_8 Every time I turn on the news, all I hear is the economy this, the economy that.  It's enough to make a person consider jumping out the nearest 10-story window.  So I do the only responsible thing.  I turn off the TV.  Ignorance is bliss, right?  Or something like that.

Seriously, though, there is NOTHING I can do about it.  I certainly can't control the ying-yangs on Wall Street or the spendthrifts in the White House.  And anyway, the economy is cyclical.  These things generally have a way of working themselves out.  Or so I like to tell myself.  Ignorance and denial -- two fine character traits.

Okay, so I'm not saying the situation isn't grim.  The truth is, I'm just not being affected by it. 

YET. 

The housing market here in Philadelphia has not bottomed out yet. My husband's job appears to be secure.  Gas prices are going down a bit.  We're young enough that our dwindling 401(k) has plenty of time to rebound.  And in the meantime, we're buying in at a great rate.  Yeah, we're trying to pay off any outstanding debt and save our pennies for a rainy day.  And all the while, we hope it's going to be just that -- a rainy day rather than an all-out monsoon.  Basically, I'm trying not to borrow trouble and take each day as it comes. 

I do sympathize with those who are feeling the economic crunch already.  I wish I had confidence that one of our presidential candidates can get us out from under this burden before it spirals too far out of control.  Unfortunately I haven't heard much from either that yields a great deal of comfort.  In fact, both of them seem to have ties to the whole debacle.  As one Time news article states:

Obama has ties to the men who pocketed fortunes while running Fannie Mae off a cliff. McCain's campaign manager was a high-priced adviser to, among others, the equally screwed-up Freddie Mac.

Grand.  Just what we want to hear, right?

So what are they actually going to DO if they get in office?  From everything I've read, both candidates plan to cut spending (although they have very different focuses of course) but funding the bailout is going to require sacrifice on the part of taxpayers, like it or not, and most of us will have to tighten our belts to get through this.

Even though we're not really feeling the crunch yet, we have already started to make changes to our household spending.  We have reduced our monthly phone bill (the land line) by cutting back on services and using the cell phone more.  I also went with a cheaper cell phone provider when my term was up last spring. I've been trying to make cheaper meals and shop from the clearance bin in the meat department at my local grocery store.  I plan my meals around what's on sale.  And I try not to buy unnecessary snacks.  My husband packs his lunch every day, as does my son.  The kids aren't doing extracurricular activities this year. 

We're trying to avoid cutting back on our cable TV.  We have talked about cutting out our gym membership as well, but I do use it and with cold weather approaching I know I won't exercise outside.  I'm having a hard time letting go of either of these guilty pleasures, but as I told my husband yesterday, I'll give up the gym before I give up cable. After all, a girl's gotta have priorities.

I get really anxious about the state of our economy if I think too much about it, so I try to shut out the negativity.  That's really all I can do, anyway.  Well, that and practice responsible spending habits.  As Melissa Schorr of MSNBC puts it:

Everything in life is cyclical — and that goes for financial markets also.

I think this is key for everyone to remember.  This too shall pass, and while we need to be cautious and responsible, panicking and worrying about things we cannot control will do no good.

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