It’s on the news and everywhere else. We’re in the middle of a recession. No, we’re not in the middle of a recession, it’s just a slowdown. No, it’s more than a slow down, we’re facing some real problems. Depending on who you ask, Americans may be in for a hard time over the next few months, few years or however long it takes for our economy to straighten itself out.
It’s hard to be specific when some of the indicators of a recession just aren’t clear. Yes, I know the “legal” definition of a recession. That’s not the problem. The problem is, the information they use as indicators just doesn’t clearly represent the US economy at this point.
For example, anyone who has been to the grocery store recently can tell you that the price of groceries has gone up. A lot in some cases. My tea has only gone up about 10 or 15 cents. On the other hand, my hot cocoa has gone up almost 50 cents a box. Milk has gone up almost $1 a gallon. Let’s not even count gas for this, or cigarettes — though my husband smokes 2 packs a day. My health insurance went up, but my vision insurance didn’t. My copay for generic medications and my health insurance deductible has gone up. With the number of foreclosures and layoffs also going up, there’s a pretty depressing picture going around of what’s happening.
Then there’s those who like to place the blame. Some say it’s Bill Clinton’s fault. That the housing bubble started when he was president, and his policies brought on some of the problems. Others like to blame Bush for the problems. After all, he is the current president while these things are happening. The problem is, I don’t think it’s either of their faults.
Part of the problem is a matter of simple greed. Many were seeing the money they could make by giving out loans to those who had poor credit. Just charge a higher interest rate to cover the risk.
Part of the problem is that many people don’t know how to budget. Or they think they should be able to live at the same level as they did when they were growing up in their parents house, regardless of whether they have their own house payment and kids to support. Many just want what they want when they want it and don’t think about how it’s going to get paid for after it goes on the credit card. In our easy credit society, we are encouraged to buy now, pay later. There’s a whole industry that makes a living off the interest charged for this mentality. Some of them make pretty good money. Even Visa and Mastercard got in on the action. Then they released their stock to the public.
What happened to paying cash for everything? What happened to using things past when they break down?
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand wanting nice things. Heck, I go through that myself when I need to drive my car down to the city to go to the airport. My car is 10 years old and has over 200,000 miles on it. It’s still running well, even if the body is the worse for wear. I’d love a newer car, but it’s simply not in the cards right now. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with my current one. It’d be great to live in a bigger place, to have a bigger tv. I think of all of these things, and I understand them. But, I feel that if I can’t pay cash, I don’t want to do it right now.
A dear friend of mine laughed at me when I said that. I want to buy a house, something big enough for my family. But, I’d rather pay cash than have a 30 year loan out. Or even a 15 year loan. Yea, I know, it’s not feasible. It’s too bad, that’s how things used to be. Or people would do what my parents have done twice now. Buy the land, build the house as they can afford it. Of course it was cheaper to build houses back when people didn’t get loans for their houses. They could get their own wood. My parents had to buy a lot of lumber. They did end up with a mortgage, just for about half of what their house is worth. And the inspectors have all said that they can’t believe the house was made by a blind guy. Or even a legally blind guy.
I guess it’s all in how you look at things. Everything else aside, whether or not we’re going through a recession really doesn’t make a difference. Bush’s stimulus checks didn’t make a difference either. For many who have gotten themselves in trouble, even $1800 is a drop in the bucket compared to their real problem. We’re all just going to have to find a way to tighten our belts and live simply while we wait for the dollar to come back, the gas prices to go down (if they ever will) and the unemployment rate to drop.
I hear that container gardening is a cheap way to get food into the house.