Blogging About the Economy: Round Three

10.13.08

As I write this, it’s late at night and posts one and two have been deleted.

The task I was given is to blog the economy. Simple. I’ll tell y’all how I feel about the economy (furious) and how I don’t know what to tell my kids. I sat down to write said post, and I burst into tears. Twice. I deleted them both because they had the hideous combination of a sanctimonious tone coupled with a fantasy of what I’m experiencing.

I am not okay. I fight back nausea and tears. This is not okay. Our collective wallets are completely out of control, and the simple act of acknowledging that I have no control over any of this is almost too much to bear.

I was a complete news junkie. Every morning I wake up to KCRW (our NPR affiliate) at 6:45 so that at 6:50 I can make the bed and listen to the Marketplace Morning Report. A few months ago I realized I couldn’t listen to it anymore. As Scott Jagow would report on the declining dollar or the tumbling housing market, I’d get a knot in my stomach. Some mornings I’d actually lay in bed and feel myself go cold, othertimes I’d battle nausea or tears.

The thought of our entire country fighting a losing battle is competely overwhelming to me. As a married woman with no career of her own, I gave up my financial independence before I ever really had it. I’ve trusted that the decisions the two of us made and continue to make would sustain us. We’ve made every right decision, why then are we losing money? Why is my neighborhood in peril?

We are okay. “We” being the Gottlieb household. My parents aren’t as okay. My parents should be retiring, how will they do that when their portfolio takes a 25% hit? I cannot tell you the terror that comes along with that.

I have two banks, Washington Mutual and IndyMac. Could I make that up? Let me tell you about the day I walked into Wells Fargo to pay my mortgage (I’m too paranoid to put that check in the mail) and offered them a check that they refused to accept. Technically, we’re okay. Emotionally, I’m spent.

All along the shopping corridors there are For Lease signs. Families like mine aren’t eating out with impunity any longer. Pool services are long since cancelled and gardeners are on their way out. My friends are closing their small businesses, because they can’t even get a loan to hold them over. My DWP bill for August and September was just shy of $900. Guess what the bill was last year for the same time period? $600, and this year we used 20% less. The cost of my home’s power and water has doubled.

Months ago I clucked my tongue, feeling sorry for people who lived check to check. You know, the price of gasoline and all. I couldn’t know, I didn’t really understand that my words were so empty. I worry that many of us who previously lived well within our means are being marginalized and all of our planning was for naught.

As my bills increase and my spending simultaneously contracts I find myself feeling even more out of control. Sadly for industry, they were counting on households like mine to spend.

Even though I know that we are still saving, even though I understand the markets enough to know that with dollar cost averaging none of this will matter in 25 years, even though we are not “technically” marginalized

I am terrified.