Friday, February 6, 2009

Anxiety... Yeah I Got It

I spend a good portion of my day (okay all waking hours) thinking about, strategizing, and... well... stressing about our financial future.

I don't know about you... but... whenever I heard stories about The Great Depression it didn't sound like it was a whole lot of fun.

I'm doing my best to get a solid game plan up and running. Whether you are feeling it now or not... most likely you will be soon. I talk to people EVERY day who are either being laid off or know someone who is. Seriously... people... what if Mr F loses his job?! I don't want to get all paranoid but I also don't want to be eating powdered potatoes anytime soon.

I've been going over our spending and how it is allocated and that's what is scary. We are already down to: housing, utilities, TV service, gas, food & tuition. You'll notice there is no clothing, medical expenses... not to mention entertainment, etc.

The TV and (currently) tuition are our only *wants*. There is really only so much I can cut from our utilities and food budget. At a certain point those costs are what they need to be. The problem for us is that our mortgage (and property taxes) takes up nearly half of our take home pay. (And that's not because we got some crazy no-down-payment mortgage... no that's with over 20% down.)

You know when you read financial books and they say you should have a certain percentage of *needs* versus *wants* versus savings? Well it is currently impossible for us to do that. And I'm starting to feel like we are trapped. We CAN afford to stay in our house... but at the expense, I'm realizing, of having a rounded out life.

However, during these times, maybe that is to be expected. Maybe, right now, the idea of having a percentage for *wants* is off base.


northerngurl said...

I'm freaking out too, and so are most people I know. Watching the news makes me anxious and it is all consuming right now.

searchingfortruth said...

Times are really tough and i know exactly what you are talking about. its like i spend every day waiting for the bottom to drop. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. i hope that everything will work out soon. maybe something will come to light and you will figure out what will be best for you and the F family. try not to worry so much its not good for ya

searchingfortruth said...

Every one is feeling the crunch of the economy. It really you said its like you spend all your time worrying about what to do about money and some days it like i'm just waiting to the bottom to drop and then i don't know what will happen. I just pray that things will all work out in the end, and i will be praying for you and your family too. try not to worry too much

searchingfortruth said...

sorry about the double post just now figuring out how commenting works on here.

searchingfortruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

Yeah. It's getting kind of scary. My husband's best friend just got a 20% pay cut. Ouch!

We're doing ok right now, but if something happened to Fred's job, we would be screwed!! To me, that is the scariest thing about being a SAHM. Being totally dependent on one salary freaks me out. Especially in this economy.

I don't watch the news. freaks me out too much.

katieo said...

Oh, I get it. I wish I didn't actually, lol...
a couple of thoughts:

-what about looking into a condo or townhome? Just looking won't hurt, right?

-I KNOW it doesn't feel like it, but there are a ton of people who would kill to be in your financial situation (no CC debt, owning a home, still employed). Sorry, I know that doesn't really ease your financial worry, and doesn't take away the fact that it is really hard to make it work. For me though, it helps to remember (as OFTEN as possible) the things we've got going for us. Or else those sometimes starting falling too, haha...

-We're canceling our tv cable this month. I'm trying to be positive about it (one step closer to being a pioneer! woohoo! ;)

-It has taken me a long time to adjust my expected wants. Way before the economy went south. One of the positive things about it is I appreciate the smallest of pleasures/gifts so much more (things I used to just take for granted).

-Not to go super religious on you (but I AM so whatevs) but my faith in God is what keeps me from going crazy with worry. I believe He knows me and my family and takes care of us - especially in times like this. I've been a part of too many "coincidences" (aka miracles) to make me think otherwise. Of course, that's me. Some may think it naive, but for the majority of our financial struggles I have lived without fear.

-powdered potatoes aren't that bad. seriously.

Mrs Furious said...

LOL on the potato buds... because after I wrote that I was like "they aren't even bad" but I figured it was a good analogy of sorts for giving up food. I used to love them growing up. Of course, in reality, I haven't bought potatoes in over a month because they are more expensive than rice or pasta.

And yes to the focusing on what you have. I'm hoping once we get through this taxes/selling Mr F's car deal and get that squared away some of the anxiety will drop. I will look at town homes. That is a good idea... I actually hadn't included that in my search... and they are more likely to be well maintained. The weird thing here is that there aren't as many as there were in MI. Maybe because the terrain is so uneven?

Don't worry about the multiple comments.
Thanks for the prayers. I'm hoping that if I just stay the course the right things will start to line up for us... hopefully.

And I have a feeling with your career that it would be hard for you, in this economy, to get work if you needed it. Is that true?

Robin said...

Hmmm, have I told you my career? I don't remember doing it.

I was in retail management. I have no idea how that's going. I imagine it would be hard to get a job. This time of year is always bad for retail and the stores are saturated with employees. Leftover holiday hires. So there probably aren't any positions in sales. Who knows about management. Probably not. Then there's the whole fact that I have been out of the loop for 4 years.

So yeah. It would be hard for me to find a job. Yikes! Fortunately, Fred's company is doing pretty well. They are actually still hiring people. We're praying that it stays that way.

Mrs Furious said...

Why did I think you were an interior designer? I have no idea where I got that. I was thinking that is one of the first jobs that would suffer during an economic downturn.

Robin said...

Ah! I have a degree in interior design. I've never actually been an interior designer because I discovered during my internship that I hated it! Nice, huh? I enjoy doing it for myself and consulting with friends and family. Strangers? Ugh.

And I'm sure that industry is really suffering.

julie said...

Mrs F, I remember how much you used to like to show us your great (and inexpensive) fashion finds at Target. I miss that for you. You would be so adorable showing us your new bag or dress.

I concur with Robin. If Tom was to lose his job, we would be completely screwed. I know Suze Orman says you should have like 8 months of expenses saved, but we don't even have one. We are trying to refinance to save a couple hundred dollars a month for the mortgage. It kills me that we will extending out the mortgage back to 30 years since we already paid 7 years on it, but I figure I would rather have that extra money now. I can always put extra money to the principle if we are able.

I so hope you are able to sell the car and take care of Mr F's taxes. That would be a huge relief.

Katie, you have such a good attitude. Somehow we always make it through. I am so sorry that you have so much worry right now, Mrs F.

I can't even pay attention to the whole bailout with the banks. It makes me so mad when I hear about huge bonuses being paid out with it...more money that most people make in a year.

We have a very high cost of living here in the northeast. Plus, we live in a rural part of the state so 2 cars are a necessity. Well, I guess everything comes in question as a necessity if it has to. I miss the city:( I want to live in Vermont's version of a of both worlds..

Christy said...

You are making me have chest pains!

What about Mr F delivering pizzas or something??

Marie said...

Tuitions almost over..that should free up some money. And if the car pays the taxes..then thats off your plate. And even if Mr. F isn't getting raises/bonuses, at least he's not getting paycuts either (some companies are giving mandatory paycuts around here..FUN!). And soon it will be warm and summery..and free park playdates, walks outside, and sunshine is always a good thing!

Yeah..totally freaking out here too..but you can't let it overtake you (cause it will consume me, I've obsessed!). You do what you can, cut what you can, spend as little as you can, and know that you did all you can.

I can't say anything about the housing situation..where we live nothing is selling, and we would lose on our house right now even if we could sell it. Originally we were planning to live here for 5-7 years and then "upgrade", but forget that now!

Katieo--loving that "pioneer" comment! I've been looking at it with the "homesteading" helps (a bit!)!

Mrs Furious said...

Good news the teacher came over and they are definitely going to use us next year. That will help!

Oh you know I miss my Target... but the longer I stay out of there the easier it is.
Thankfully my mom gave Mr F & I both gift cards to the local dept store so we can buy clothes when we need them. But... I'm saving them. Kid is going through a crazy growth spurt and I might need to get her all new summer clothes!

People came over today and definitely made us feel good about our house/location. It might work out in the end if we just sit tight.

And YES I loved Katieo's pioneer comment.
I'm just telling myself everyday that this stuff is all stuff people had to do ALL the time... we're just used to so much convenience.

wootini said...

Sorry you are so stressed out, Mrs. F - it's really tough not to be in a constant state of panic right now. I keep coming back to one thing you said in the video - "How bad is it going to get?"... seriously, right now (knock wood) we are ok but without really knowing what we need to plan for makes every piece of dire economic news that much more stressful.

My neighbors and I have taken to half-jokingly discussing how much produce we could get from all the common areas on our street if we had to...

I am also stressing over business taxes - self employment sometimes seems hardly worth it. Like you and Mr. F, the past few years we have not been able to pay up front and have ended up paying all on April 15... yikes. I have a ballpark figure in mind but I need to run the numbers for this year and I'm too afraid to look!

Deb said...

I dig the RV idea. If anyone can make an RV stylish, it would be you.

Is it possible to think of your house as a "want"? We're in a similar boat with our mortgage (again, no crazy loan, massive 20% down payment), and whenever I get frustrated about the serious nature of our spending and lack of frivolity, I remind myself that part of the decision in buying this house was that we wanted it. (Unlike our last house that we hated.)

Nutmeg said...

Wow... the teacher thing is great news.

I hope it works out well... that will give you a little breathing room.

wootini said...

Ok, now you have me hooked on reading frugal blogs. : )

Here is an interesting idea:

This blogger also has a great (recent) post about interviewing his dad on lessons learned from the Great Depression.

Jennifer said...

What? There is a problem with the ecomony?

**Jennifer sticks her head back in the sand .. right where she likes it***

Mrs Furious said...

You know that is a really good idea. If I think of the house as part *want* it does make me feel better.

I'm loving that blog! It combines all of my weird obsessions in one place. I totally want to get into canning and dehydrating this summer.

And I cannot wait for this tax season to be over. This will be the last year of significant business income. Even if we end up living off of less... not ever having this type of huge tax burden looming over us will be a fair trade off!

Yes it is a huge relief. If Kid gets into the Charter school it will be a good amount to put into savings... if she returns to her current school it will pay 2/3rds of the tuition... which makes it doable for us.

I wish I could do the same.

Marilyn said...

It's great that you'll be taking care of the teacher's baby next fall, but what about doing day care now? You could even advertise for just after-school care and probably pick up some good, pretty easy money. Just a thought.

Kiki said...

Living with a finance manager has turned me into the kind of wife I never wanted to be...I have no idea what our bills are really like and with Ken constantly talking about the economy it tends to freak me out. My comfort comes much like Katieo, in my faith. My family has been very poor at times....yet we never went hungry and there was always a roof over our head. Granted the roof might not have been "our own" and the food was donated, but we were loved and cared for. That made a HUGE impression on me, I feel like remembering where I've been makes a big difference in how I view financial armeggedon. That and Ken is a genius with money.

That said, don't think for one minute that things at the Bee hive are status quo, we are on a hiatus from clothes shopping (a killer for me) and we use coupons for a lot of our food shopping. We are not cutting cable yet, we're not there yet...we are cautious though.

And Robin, I'm in retail, a GM, my company is always looking for great people...if I can help let me know. kikbee@yahoo dot com.

Heather said...

wootini -- that website is quirky and addictive! Awesome.

Kiki said...

Mrs F, I have question, what is the difference between public and charter schools. Also is a magnet school something different?

Can you choose your public/charter school for Kid or is she just "stuck" somewhere?

So glad you are going to be able to watch that baby, it'll be nice for your Baby too!

Mrs Furious said...

Well it's more complicated here than in other places. If you live in Asheville (the city) as we do all of the public schools are Magnet schools (think FAME but not anything like that). Each school is supposed to have a different focus (humanities, NASA, environmental) but in reality the curriculum is not really very different. They started this to diversify the 5 public schools and desegregate them. Mix the schools up from the different neighborhoods. Some of the schools are better than others and I'd wish they had worked harder to balance the schools educationally IMO. Anyway you have to apply in Feb and list your top 3 out of 5. If you get your application in early you should get one of them. When we moved in July we were too late to do that and only one school (the *bad*) one had space.

The Charter schools are also run by public/government funding. They have more flexibility to alter their focus but still must meet state criteria. There are 3 here... one is more Waldorf oriented, one is more Outward Bound oriented, and one is Arts oriented. They are very small and only have one class per grade. You can apply and get in on a lottery system.
We missed this opportunity because we moved to late last year. If a spot opens in the 1st grade then they will use the lottery to fill it. This is our #1 choice. It has a similar structure to her current school... is only 2 blocks away... and goes until the 8th grade (for free). Once you have one kid in your siblings get in.

Kiki said...

Mrs F, Whoa!!! That is a lot to consider and no wonder you considered homeschooling..."Fame, but way different", I thought high school was going to be like that when I was young, everyone breaking out in song in the lunchroom, interpretive dance in the halls... What a letdown when I acctually got there!!!

After 8th grade, what happens then? School systems are so different, I had no idea!

Bi0nicw0man said...

I know you aren't looking for suggestions or anything, but I have one anyway. Have you thought about trying to make some money of your own on the side? I'm sure you the babysitting gig.

The reason I ask is because one of your sidebar notes says that you can decorate cakes like a pro...if you made yourself a nice online portfolio you might be able to pick up a few orders for cakes, etc...and make a little profit??

Just a thought!

Mrs Furious said...

It's funny the things you don't think of yourself.
I'm going to check out the competition on that front and see if I'm up against anything.

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