What is your family’s State of the Union?

I don’t want to get political (and don’t want you guys to get political) but the State of the Union always seems like an appropriate time to evaluate how your family is doing in comparison to the rest of the nation. (Here is a preview story about the official State of the Union.)

Supposedly the economy is rebounding. We are officially, according to the government, out of the recession. But what are you seeing at home? Are you better off than you were a year ago? What about two years ago? Do you feel more positively about your money and have confidence you will have money in the future?  (Christmas spending seemed to indicate some confidence. Online spending was up.)

(A news story on how some people are spending now and some numbers on spending.)

I definitely think that certain segments of the economy get hit before others and then are on the front-end of the recovery. For example, we have a friend with a trucking company and then my dad who is engineer selling HVAC –types systems to large buildings. Our friends’ trucking business always seems to get hit first and is starting to recover by the time my dad’s company gets hit. Our friend’s trucking business seems to be doing well now. My dad’s business finally seems to be picking back up.

This is just what we have observed. Any economists out there I would love to hear your thoughts on how the recession moved through different industries and who was affected first and then last.

I think Michael and I were both on the back-end of the recession. I feel like we are worse off than we were two years ago despite increasing saving and reducing spending at the front-end when we saw friends hurting. (Also saving and not spending now.) I have definitely said things in the last two years that I didn’t say much before: “We can’t afford that. Mommy doesn’t have money for that. We can’t eat out. We can’t go to the beach.” (It kind of makes life easier just always saying no and they’ve definitely gotten on board with it. Their Christmas lists were so tiny and sweet. And Walsh didn’t want to get his hair cut to help the family save money. I told him I could buy him a hair cut.)

So where are you in the cycle? Are you completely out of the recession? Are you still in it? Are you just plain gun shy now? Or are you so tired of being good and are ready to spend? Will you continue your saving ways as things improve around you?

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motherjanegoose

January 25th, 2011
7:05 am

Our family is comfortable but we are thrifty and what we live on might not work for others. We know how to scale back and live economically. Our family could be hit just as easily as anyone else’s and we know that.

That being said, my work is down some because the local schools are very cautious to spend money on extras like me. Some schools have had to cancel all services not mandatory. We have several friends, in their late 40’s and 50’s where the man has been out of work for quite a while. He was the main breadwinner and it is sad to see them suffer. I pray things will turn around for them. No matter how thrifty we are, it would be difficult to live on my salary alone for 2 years…not something I would want to do. I feel sorry for those who are and hope things will improve for then soon.

TWG…look at Misty’s post near the end of the lice blog…it was too cute….I think after midnight. It appears to be very sincere.

James

January 25th, 2011
7:27 am

I never really stop and think about this very much – which, perhaps, might be why I am as thankful as I am. Our family (both parents working) has not had to expend an overt amount of energy with worry over the economy. Sure, like everyone else, we have had to spend more due to the increase in the costs of goods and services. But, at the same time, our salaries haev also increased as have our savings and we both received decent bonus checks. I can, however, easily remember a time when I lived “paycheck-to-paycheck” and this was back prior to gasoline costing $3 a gallon! I cannot imagine having to ever do that again! For those who have been affected by the economy, I’d simply say “hang in there” and, in the meantime, take whatever steps possible to spend less and save more!

motherjanegoose

January 25th, 2011
7:37 am

Bonus checks? We have never had those. My husband has been with his company over 20 years and has never even received a Christmas bonus. We laugh about this and I tell him I will take a bonus for myself, out of my business. The same with a company provided car….what? I guess I do have one since I provide it for myself.

I am with you on the $3 gas…back in the day where I walked a mile to school in the snow, it was 69 cents per gallon ;)

It does show that each of us has a different path. We make the best of it.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
8:12 am

i live in an area where jobs are usually scarce anyway, and in the winter many people are out of work even when times are good, especially men who are in the construction business. but now, i think we have one of the highest unemployent rates in the country. i know western carolina has the highest rate in this state. i have noticed off and on more job listings, then it will go down again. one thing i have noticed through all this-starting when i was laid off and looking for a job, the salaries for jobs has diminished drastically. a job you could get with a 2 year degree making fairly decent salary now requires a BA degree at a much reduced salary. i continually am looking for a new job so i see this all the time. a job i would have been very well qualified for 3 years ago i am not qualified for now. if they can get someone with a masters degree for less money, that what they get. we live bare bones and have since i was laid off. when i finally found a job it was at much less pay. like almost $10,000 a year less. so we have stayed bare bones. i am very lucky and blessed that my daughter prettty much pays her own way. her own insirance, all of her everyday expenses-i never have to give her money. she is 18 and has been doing this since she was 13-her grandfather bought her a car-but other than that she pays for everything, car repairs included. she feels bad that she cant help me out!!! imagine!! i tell her the best way she helps me is exactly what she is doing. going to school, working, and taking care of her personal needs. there are people here who are on the end of their much extended unemployment benefits and i cant imagine what they are going to do. there have been times when my hours were cut so drastically i have considered going to a food bank (i used to donate to these-now i consider using them!!!) but the food banks are having a hard time, so i stay away from them because there are a lot of people who are MUCH worse off than i am, so i leave it to them. the last 2 weeks at work i had 22 hours one week and 17 the next. and i am a full time employee. so times are rough. but some people have nothing. i am not to nothing. not yet. i am going back to college and hopefully that will get me into a more stable position. im working on that. i just read an article in the asheville citizen regarding budget cuts. its not pretty. its pretty ugly actually.

RJ

January 25th, 2011
8:13 am

As a result of my husband’s company losing large accounts I am now making more money than him. This is most definitely a first, but we’re managing. We both have cars over 10 years old. They’re still working and honestly I don’t know if we were in a better economy I’d buy another car because mine is old. I am concerned that it has hit the 200K mark, but it’s still driving strong. My husband used to receive small bonus checks and always received gift cards at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the first year that we’ve only gotten that Wal-mart card for Christmas. I look forward to it for groceries. We took a small family vacation last year to save money. This year will be a bit bigger but not the trip to Hawaii that I want. This year I started another retirement account. This economy has definitely made me look at money differently.

January 25th, 2011
8:22 am

It’s times like these I’m glad I studied a harder major in college.

I don’t have a problem finding a job, and after changing jobs I got a raise each time.

Life is good when you graduated with a degree in engineering, and not “literature.”

Hope everyone else pulls through, though. Kind of a depressing situation right now.

Best of luck to everyone! ^_^

Photius

January 25th, 2011
8:28 am

We are less of than two or three years ago. The Recession started in early 2008 and the nation is entering its fourth year of this Great Recession. Unemployment is at 9.5% and if you figure in all the people excluded from that figure such as part time workers and those who are underemployed (working full time for far less pay) then the true unemployment rate is probably around 18%. 15 million Americans out of work with no end in sight. So far for the last two years virtually no jobs have been added to the economy and for every job opening there are 5 applicants – there simply are not enough jobs to go around.

In order for the economy to get back to 2007 levels of employment we will have to grow at 4.5% of five years in a row; that ain’t gonna happen.

Gas is going to $4 a gallon by summer time – see how that impacts our oil consuming economy. Ben Bernanke is now in hot pursuit of Quantitative Easing 2 purchasing over $600 billion in T-Bills, literally playing God with the economy in hopes it will stimulate growth. This is very, very dangerous what the Fed is doing. If wrong, hyperinflation could result. Food prices are up, raw materials are up, beef is up, fuel is up – wages are non-existent. The Stock Market is doing well simply because of The Feds’ QE2 stimulus but yet no jobs are being created. The Fed has kept interest rates at zero for years yet this has done nothing to stimulate growth. This is not your father’s recession. In the United States over 50% of all corporate profits were generated via finance; America produces very little but we consume and finance everything. Unemployment is becoming structural rather than temporary. Translation: if you become unemployment you are not going back to work at what you were making for many, many years if you can even find a job at all. You should all be saving like crazy and all of you regardless if you are employed or out of work should be very, very afraid.

Capitalism if left unchecked will devour itself.

Techmom

January 25th, 2011
8:40 am

I think we are slightly worse off financially than we were a couple of years ago but mentally, we are happier. My husband got laid off a couple of years ago and after a few months without any luck locally, he took a job that kept him out of town Monday through Friday. This past summer he got a job back in Atlanta for a company that he actually likes working for though he probably makes 15% less in salary and there are no bonuses. He now has to drive back and forth every day as opposed to taking the XPress bus downtown which adds some pressure but as he says, it’s still better than working for the previous company that laid him off even with th extra pay and ease of location.

My company put a freeze on raises for a year so in two years I’ve gotten one measly raise which doesn’t keep up with the higher cost of living but hey, I still have a job!

We are definitely more frugal now. I use coupons like mad, we try not to eat out and I’ve cut back on just buying whatever I wanted because I wanted it. My husband hasn’t bought another vehicle in over 4 years (big step for him- my car is 8 years old!)

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
8:42 am

photius you are so right.

my degree is in computer tech and the markett is flooded. extremely! so now im going for criminal justice, since we know there will always be criminals to deal with. i wanted to minor in substance abuse or juvenile crime, but now even the colleges have cut back on classes and made entry requirements much tougher (not grade wise, but to enter into the bacherlors program at wcu now you have to have ONE YEAR WORK EXPERIENCE IN THAT FIELD!!! who ever heard of have to have work ecperience to get into a 4 year degree program when you already hold your 2 year degree??? i was accepted last year but could get finish with the 2 year faster where i was so i waited. now im out of that club and searching for other options. this ‘recession’ is not going to end. we are all just going to get used to it, and when things get a little better we will be happy. just ike gas. when it went to $4 a gall we were appalled. not its been 2.60ish and we were ok. as photius said things are bad. and i have a concern about the american dollar. thee are financial advisors who believe that our money will be worthless within the next 2 years. id be putting money in silver if i had any to put.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
8:59 am

The downturn didn’t hit our family like it did others. We’ve stayed the course and have continued to save for retirement. It could have turned out much different. We call ourselves a one income family, although my income comes into play, we don’t count on it. My wife is the primary bread winner and has been for a number of years. We had a scare back in the Spring of ‘09 when her company was in the midst of layoff’s and buyouts. We were very fortunate that things worked out for her – although no raises in the last 3 years, but hey she still had a job!

We do have increased debt do to the fact that she went back to school for her EMBA but it was something we planned for.

I believe the economy is starting to roll, although it’s in small increments. My wife’s company has lifted it’s hiring and raise freeze. She has just received a promotion and I have seen definite signs that the construction industry is starting to creep along. A lot of remodeling and fixing up is happening. The future is looking brighter.

Jeff

January 25th, 2011
9:03 am

I’m better off than I have been in years. I feel very blessed and try to wake up every day with an attitude of seeing what I DO have instead of what I don’t.

justmy2cents

January 25th, 2011
9:09 am

There has not been a huge impact on our family. Sure, I’ve taken furloughs and pay cuts, but I still make more in this position than my previous job. My husband’s job is pretty secure, although mine is never guaranteed school budget year to next. We’ve taken steps to make sure we will be ok if my position is cut this year. We’ve refinanced the house into an awesome rate, paid off all credit debt, and have a nice chunk stuffed away in savings.

I already know I am looking at a minimum of 5 furloughs for next school year. They’ve cut our department pretty lean, so we may be safe. The fact they are hiring to fill open positions right now is a good sign.

We still go on vacation twice a year, eat out dinnner a few nights a week too. We both drive new vehicles, so no worries about possible break downs and mechanical expenses. So we are fine, but still wary enough to be prepared for any obstacles down the road.

The rest of my family, on the other hand, is struggling. My siblings did not take advantage of HOPE here in GA, and have no degrees. They work minimum wage jobs, and struggle to provide for their families. Both are on government assistance of some form. My mother was laid off a few months ago, and she was the primary bread winner. Her severance package runs out soon, and she has no idea what they are going to do.

It is still scary times out there. It is a shame the mess this country has turned into thanks to our gov’t and lenders. Of course, people should not have been trying to live so high on the hog either.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
9:13 am

jeff i feel very blessed too. there are so many who have it worse than i do…including family members. i also look at reality. i have a job i do not like but i am very thankful i have it. but the economy is not getting better. we are still hearing news of new budget cuts constantly. worse budget cuts than we already have seen. @MJG-i have often thought of you when i hear and see different ‘extra’ programs being cut from schools. my local school has off and on cut out the art program, and has pernanantly cut out the music program. i just see so much of our money going to programs and people it shouldnt be going to. i get upset. even for people who still have a job or are just making it as i am (sometimes lol) programs that are being cut are not helping the job situation. so how can people say it is getting better. i know several people in different segments of the construction industry-and while it may be showing a slight improvement-they are getting paid a whole lot less for the same work they did before the great fall of the american empire. we still hear of banks being closed. wth. it isnt getting better.

JATL

January 25th, 2011
9:16 am

I definitely consider us to be VERY fortunate! We are better off than we were two years ago and better off than we were last year. In this economy, I’ve had the unprecedented opportunity and good fortune to have two jobs that both pay very well. I took time off to stay home when my first was born almost 5 years ago (how has it been so long?!?!). Last February, I was hired at my current job after looking for several months. The October before (’09) I had taken a part-time telecommuting job with a curriculum company, but the main project I was supposed to work on got canned, so I had done almost nothing for them. Of course the day I got this job, I went home to an overflowing inbox with project requests from the other job! They needed me 20-40 hours per week. Given the state of the economy then, I did NOT want to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I signed on for both. It’s been a hard year -although a financially blessed one. After pinching every penny and basically doing without quite a lot for 4 years, it’s been fantastic to have extra money to add to savings, use for vacation and get some things for the house.

I had always intended to go back to work when my youngest was anywhere from 3-5 depending on how we were doing. My husband has a good job and great benefits, and before my mother died I had a contract where I worked every spring and fall for a few months. This gave us some extra money and money for holidays, birthdays -that kind of extra. When she died though, I had to look into something full-time because using childcare for a few months here and there was either impossible or prohibitively expensive. My mother had been my free childcare, so it was a win-win -she loved it, I loved it, the kids loved it and it was FREE! I’m trying to find a happy balance now. I work WAY too much, and over the last few months I’ve almost had a nervous breakdown. I’ve been sick a lot, which I attribute to stress. I refuse to not spend time with my children, so that means I work into the wee hours after they’re in bed and average about 4 hours of sleep per night. BUT -this all tells me a lot about the economy. YES, I’ve been really lucky, but both of these are contract positions, and I’ve held tightly to both of them because I feel like either could end at any moment without a lot of warning, so if that happened, at least I would still have the other. I think in many ways that says a good bit about the economy and our trust in it. I’ve found more and more companies going to huge pools of contract labor. My main company is going to get themselves in trouble if they’re not careful, because they have all of us on contract, but we’re supposedly “permanent” -they’re just getting out of tax and benefit obligations at this point. It’s a start-up, so it’s shaky but a great situation right now (only 2 miles from my house). I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from the past few years -no one is safe. In only a very few jobs is there any type of job security any more. But, I’m going to ride this wave as long as possible, and if it ends, due to my now-current resume with even more experience, hopefully I’ll find something else. At least I got thrifty, paid off the debts and credit cards and learned to be very frugal before the bottom dropped out. It’s a lot less stressful knowing that if I did lose my income we wouldn’t be completely down the drain, and I now know how to pinch a penny until Abe screams!

justmy2cents

January 25th, 2011
9:19 am

LOL @ Abe screaming, but sad it has become necessary!!

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
9:24 am

It is still scary times out there. It is a shame the mess this country has turned into thanks to our gov’t and lenders. Of course, people should not have been trying to live so high on the hog either.

@justmy2cents – Agreed. I know everyone has to live their own lives, but we must remember to save for the future. According to our banks, we can support a mortgage 3 times as large as the one we have now. That’s not something we are interested in. One of our vehicles is 10 years old and the other is 14. We both have wanted a newer ride for quite some time now, but we just didn’t want auto payments! Everyone has different priorities – I want a roof over my head!

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
9:30 am

lol@ JATL—i also have learned to pinch til he screams lol… i have not been out to eat at a decent restaurant in ages…cant even remember the last time…i do miss it because it was one of the very few social things i ever did…but i have lived without it. i have a lot of stress and i know that too makes me sick more than usual. i am working on that. i used to be very good at not worrying about things i cant change-but after being jobless for 9 months-and now working for a company that tells you to your face that you are not important to them-i do worry-im just trying not to….trying to have the attitude that what happens, happens and i will survive and get through it.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
9:40 am

@deidre_NC

I’m sorry things are rough in your area of the country. This downturn has affected every one of us in different ways, depending on where we live and what line of work we are in. I just have to hope and pray that those that aren’t doing so well see the light at the end of the tunnel.

By the way, we love WC and have always wanted to move there… the only thing holding us back is the job situation. My wife’s company has a mill there but there are hardly ever any job openings because the area is so well thought of.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
9:51 am

well roswell jeff-my advice is not to move here. just visit. it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the country witholut a doubt! but even in good times the economy sucks. during the buliding binge the country went on times werent as bad as usual. but plants and factories are always shutting down. i mean, if you have income whether you depend on a job here or not by all means make the move. but if you will have to rely on getting a job here id think twice. seriously the only thing that the 2 counties i deal with have going for them is the fact that in the last 2 years they passed a drink by the glass law which enabled restaurants to serve alsochol (besides beer and wine) and that has brought life back here–a little. there is harrahs casino-which is about 2 hours from me ((maybe a little less) who is hiring because they built a huge new facility-but the factory-plant situation here has wrecked this area since NAFTA passed. it is just a very depressed area and really has been even in the best of times. lol but i love i here. im from atlanta and when i moved here i thought i had died and gone to heaven. obviously i still love it or i would be gone. my family begs me to move back to atlanta….my friend begs me to move to greensboro…i just so far havent been able to bring myself to do it.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
9:52 am

typo cops please excuse the typos…i can spell just cant type lol

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
9:54 am

oh…and i was in the tourist industry when i was laid off….before that a plant i was purchasing agent for went down….both of those industries have taken a huge hit!

JJ

January 25th, 2011
10:03 am

I’ve been very fortunate to still be employed at my company, 19 years now…….

I’ve always lived frugally. And I upped my 401(k) contribution last year. The cost of everything is going, but my paycheck isn’t. I haven’t had a raise in 5 years, but I’m still employed, and I’m thankful for that…..

I’ve never had credit cards, so there’s no debt there. Both cars were purchased with cash, no financing, no car payment. However, the insurance is outrageous with a teen aged driver with her own vehicle.

I will remain frugal….my parents were frugal. We had what we needed, and we had some luxuries also. We travelled A LOT!!!!!

Wayne

January 25th, 2011
10:15 am

Gas, at $2.60? I’ll take it! I bought it last night for $3.09.

Thankfully, I have a good job in IT/Healthcare, and I have my side business – computers. I’m pretty busy with both, and thankful for it. Being in healthcare has its risks though! State could say change reimbursement rates and that could change the job situation. We have a new hospital going up so we have positions open, something like 19 of them which is highly unusual.

Finally bought a newer vehicle because our old ones (’93 and ‘98) kept breaking down. Since we have to drive everywhere we decided to bite the bullet and get a newer model (’07). I didn’t want a car payment but have to get to work, and the kids have to get to school!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 25th, 2011
10:25 am

We were just looking last night at a beach trip with my family to Myrtle Beach — nothing fancy — just kids playing on the beach but Photius is making me worry about doing it. You guys are depressing me.

I’m working on a second, more cheerful topic now.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
10:26 am

well the gas at $2.50 was just an example of how we accepted that after it went to $4….now around here it is 3.09 to 3.25….and juwt going on up.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
10:27 am

@deidre_NC

Yes, we have decided that the only way we are going to be able to make it there is to be independently wealthy (not going to happen) or build our own business there. It’s just a dream of ours, but would love to come to that area, be able to start and sustain a business and employ others.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
10:28 am

@TWG – I thought some of the comments were actually pretty good!

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
10:29 am

JJ–so far i have kept my daughter’ss car in my name and on my insurance so its not atrocious. im sure that will be changing soon. im not sure how long you can keep it that way-does the kids age have anything to do with it? she also isnt considered a primary driver so that helps. if she gets one in her name it will be atrocious.

JJ

January 25th, 2011
10:30 am

TWG – take the kids, and GO to the beach. Don’t worry about gas prices and the recession. Give your kids some memories and GO!!!!!! As we say in my circle of girlfriends “RUN AWAY”!!!!

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
10:33 am

roswell jeff—whatever you do good luck to you….if yalll move here let me know where…we could probably meet for lunch or something. im in the cherokee/macon/swain county area. live in macon county.

deidre_NC

January 25th, 2011
10:36 am

ok off to school…then home hoping there isnt much snow over night…danged snow im so over it!!! ill check in later…this blog has my interest. have a blessed day all.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 25th, 2011
10:38 am

Jeff — they were all good — very on topic and very relevant — Just depressing!!!! I am having more optimism than Photius.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
10:43 am

Don’t let them get you down TWG. I’m not saying we need to ignore our current situation, but come on – vacations are important. Take it and if it makes you feel better, do it frugally! Like JJ said – it will be memories you will never forget!

Some of the best vacations we have ever had were on the cheap.

Anne

January 25th, 2011
10:53 am

I think those of us that survived or maintained throughout this recession are the very ones that are spending a bit more, but it really isn’t enough in my opinion. I believe this is all just an illusion and the media talking up the economy. Times are still bad and they won’t get better anytime soon.

I know people that were doing okay that are all of a sudden being hit now. Overall, the metro ATL real estate market has taken a severe beating and weather you own a home or not this will effect our overall economy for a long time.

Not to be political, but I do believe this is some sort of media ploy to show the slightest bit of economic gain and in turn help out the dismal approval ratings on the current administration.
Sorry, but I and many others are not buying what the media and polls are trying to sell!

JATL

January 25th, 2011
10:56 am

@TWG -GO to the beach with the kids. Stay in a motel with a kitchenette instead of a condo (if it’s actually cheaper -from what I’ve seen and found on VRBO, the condo owners realize everyone is hurting and they’re hurting too). Don’t eat out except for an ice cream treat or pizza one night. Or if you have kitchen access, go to a local market and buy fresh seafood and cook it there. Look at a number of different beaches -some are a lot more expensive to visit than others. If you can’t swing a week -go for 4 days. Also -have you considered camping? It’s great for some and not for others. We love it, but with the little ones the tent camping was getting old fast, so we did invest in a used pop-up camper last year off of Craiglist. My father went in on it too because he plans to use it in the spring for trout fishing adventures. We’ve taken it out once -and it’s fantastic! It makes camping with children much easier. Our summer vacation is going to be driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and looping around through the Outer Banks for a few days of beach time. Campgrounds are much, much cheaper than hotels and condos -but you do have to be willing to rough it a little (some campgrounds are lovely, clean and up to date -others, not so much!). If gas prices continue to hover around $3.05 here -it will be the biggest bulk of our expense. We were happy with our maiden voyage to report that it only seemed to affect our gas mileage by 1 or 2 miles per gallon. The guy I purchased it from told me that, but I thought he was blowing smoke! You can rent RVs and tents if you’re game. You can rent tents for next to nothing from REI. It’s important to have adventures -for yourself and your kids. I had personally rather know that I would be buying all of our needed clothing and shoes for next fall and winter from Goodwill than to not get away this summer. Even if gas is $5 a gallon -you can adjust in other ways.

Roswell Jeff

January 25th, 2011
11:11 am

JATL,

We’ve been looking at popups as well. We camped all of time when we were kids. That’s how we took our vacations. We had all sorts of various campers and tents. Those are some of the best memories as a kid. I’ll never forget that we would pull into the campground and the first thing Dad would do was to get our bikes out of the camper and off we would go. My sister would hang out near the outside of the women’s bathrooms so she could meet people – different times for sure but, good, good times.

JJ

January 25th, 2011
11:24 am

JATL is correct!!!! Theresa, there are SO many places to see and stay….start getting on email lists and there are great rates, promotions, etc. Vacations DO NOT need to be fancy and expensive. Remember, memories are what you are giving your kids…..

CC

January 25th, 2011
11:28 am

JATL, my boss did the same thing. We are now all “contract employees” yet work just as we did before when we were “permanent employees”. Lost all benefits as well as our tax matching & unemployment. I’m about to do our 1099’s for submittal today and wondering if the IRS is going to pick up on the fact that we went from w-2 to 1099’s and if it will even make a difference.

Wayne

January 25th, 2011
11:32 am

I know this is a bit off-topic, but I thought if you were a 1099′d, you couldn’t really be an ‘employee’ – you worked for yourself, had your own company, something like that. If you worked for a boss, where you had someone running your day to day work, you were an employee and couldn’t be a contractor.

Tiger?

Techmom

January 25th, 2011
11:32 am

Just got the re-enrollment info for my son’s school for next year. Tuition is going up another 4%- so much for that measly raise I did get!

You know the other thing that isn’t mentioned much in this blog so far is our house values. We own two houses; the one we’ve owned for 10 years is now worth less than not only what we bought it for but also what the builder originally sold it for to the previous owners. We have renters in the house who pay the mortgage so we are “only” saddled maintenance items as they come up but essentially we’re going to be landlords forever b/c we don’t see the market ever returning to the point where we can sell it for what we owe on it. Our current house value is about what we paid for it which doesn’t sound bad for us, but that’s only b/c it was a builder foreclosure that we bought from a bank at a steeply discounted price. So in the sense of our net worth, we are way worse off now than a couple of years ago.

shaggy

January 25th, 2011
11:44 am

Yes, I have to agree with Photius on many points. My biggest agreement is that we as a country don’t manufacture much, except great weapons systems…and even those are being stolen by the Chinese, Russians, etc… We started losing our manufacturing base directly after WWII, supposedly, (really, it was about huge profits as reward for cooperating with uncle sam during the war) in the interest of building allies (Japan & Germany) to oppose the USSR. We rebuilt their industries, gave them stuff to make, and are still buying it today, except China, the same China that just opened for business in the 70’s, is the wild card we are having a time dealing with. They, China, want what we have taken for granted, and they will work for it.
Also. the current generation that holds power, (the “me” generation aka, baby boomers) has failed miserably in raising productive offspring. Their kids are entitled up to the gills, dumb as a bunch of rocks, and more interested in celebrity culture than the terrorists that really want to kill us. That does not bode well for the future. Our kids don’t know math, science, or history, but they know what rapper recently went to jail or what Kim Kardassian is doing tonight. Sad stuff.
America is asleep at the wheel and no, the government teat is not the answer, never has been, never will be. We have to make more, better, cheaper stuff…using that legendary American ingenuity, if it still exists. Then, it would help to protect what is ours, instead of selling Americas soul for a few bucks.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 25th, 2011
11:46 am

New lighter topic up —-

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2011/01/25/sleeping-with-your-pets-cuddly-or-gross/

You guys have done a great job with a very mature, good discussion.

CC

January 25th, 2011
11:49 am

Wayne, that’s the way it should work but a lot of small companies have resorted to this to avoid payroll matching, workman’s comp and paid holidays. Our net profit for the year was up by 200k so in reality, the bossman is just paying more taxes for his savings and we all got the shaft! On top of all the losses, we didn’t even get our annual Christmas dinner this past year or a Merry Christmas for that matter. I just hope he sleeps well at night. 20+ years and look what I got…..

Anne

January 25th, 2011
11:53 am

I briefly mentioned the ATL housing market in my post. I don’t think what many realize is how much of our economy was built on being transient, people cannot afford to move now. People are being forced to make tough decisions regarding jobs and many employers will only look locally for hiring, only if they are hiring.

Techmom – We have friends that bought a foreclosure at a really good price about 2 years ago, in a really nice area in a good school district, and they don’t think their house is worth today what they paid for it. Values have gone way below prices 10 to 15 years ago, and we are talking pretty nice areas in metro Atlanta.

I also heard where the APS accreditation problems will damage the economy of our entire region. It is amazing the effects on the economy that many don’t take into account.

JJ

January 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

If you go to Zillow.com you can see what your house is worth. Mine is now worth $20,000 LESS than I paid for it 8 years ago, but I’m not upside down…..

JATL

January 25th, 2011
12:09 pm

@Wayne and CC -yep, Wayne -contractors are usually 1099. For your own tax purposes, you can incorporate yourself and have your paychecks paid to your “company.” However, you still show up to work and have a boss or whatever your contract stipulates. Companies can get in big trouble doing what mine, CC’s and a number of others are doing right now. The IRS can and does often get wind of it or notice it and with start-ups and small companies, the fines and taxes can put them under. By having us all on “contractor” status, they’re avoiding paying their share of payroll taxes, benefits of any sort, etc. I’m not crystal clear on all the finite points, but it’s a BIG no-no to the IRS! Right now this will be my first year of doing taxes from this company on a 1099, but I wonder when the IRS is going to notice some of the folks who have been here almost 3 years -and are still on 1099 status? Our old accountant and payroll manager was constantly telling them they HAD to start making people employees after a certain amount of time, but they have yet to listen. This has turned into a gold mine for litigation attorneys as well -and it only takes one p.o.’d ex-worker to turn them onto a company.

Warrior Woman

January 25th, 2011
12:10 pm

We are worse off in 2010 than we were in any year since 2006. Although my nominal compensation package is higher (i.e., the published salary and performance incentives for my position), cutbacks have reduced my actual salary by more than 20% before taxes. Similarly, furlough days have reduced my husband’s salary by around 12%. At the same time, we’re burdened with higher taxes, higher costs of living, etc.

I don’t think the economy is improving – there are still enormous foreclosure backlogs, high unemployment and the cost of living is going up further. Plus taxes and the cost of doing business are going to increase because of health care reform, regulatory reform, etc. Companies are reluctant to hire permanent employees under these conditions. @Anne, I agree with you on the treatment of any positive economic news. It is seriously overhyped.

Despite all this, I still feel enormously blessed. We have stable jobs that we enjoy to support our family, even if we’ve had to cut back. Everyone is healthy and happy, and the kids are smart and dedicated enough that merit scholarships will pay a chunk of college tuition even if HOPE is cut. I know other families that are suffering a lot more, and we’re still able to help a bit, whether directly or through charitable donations.

b

January 25th, 2011
12:12 pm

We are definitely worse off than we were two-three years ago. My husband’s industry as a whole is down; he lost his job in July but was lucky to find one in November. Lower pay but it is a job. My job has been iffy for the last three years. It pays well (we both earn about the same amount of $), but the uncertainty is wearing. School tuition is locked in (what we started with as a freshman is what we will pay all four years of high school) but it is still a large chunk of our budget. House is worth about $75K less than it was 3 years ago, although we still have quite a bit of equity. We have a college senior who is stressing out wondering what comes next. There are very few jobs and grad school is expensive, with no job at the end of that either. Our friends seem to be in the same boat. Hanging on but not seeing any real light at the end of the tunnel. Sad as we are all within about 10-15 years of retirement, or so we had hoped.

Anne

January 25th, 2011
12:18 pm

I have heard not to trust Zillow lately, that the market is decreasing far worse and the accuracy is way off. @JJ – I still wouldn’t sell though.