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gunflint

Economy - Local Effect

43 posts in this topic

I've been watching a lot of coverage on the economy and the national and world wide effect that the economic down turn is having and will possibly have. What I haven't seen a lot of is coverage on is how is it affecting the average guy.(Us)

I thought it would be interesting and educational if we could localize how this down turn is affecting FMers. It would be nice if we could refrain from getting Bush or Obama, Republicans and Democrats etc. into the discussion. In plain english, how is it affecting you. I'll start.

We have decided to cut Christmas expenses by at least 50% I'm a little sad that we have to do this but I think Christmas expenses have been getting way out of hand for the last several years so maybe it isn't all bad.

As far as fishing goes, I was planning on buying my Son-in-Law's boat this spring and he was going to buy a new Alumicraft Navigator. These plans are now on hold as he works for the railroad and layoffs and rumors of more layoffs in the mining industry are a cause of great concern.

I am ordering a new reel soon that's on sale at Cabela's but I would normally be looking for a top end rod for said reel, but now I will probably end up with a Guide Series (buy one get one half price) deal from Gander.

I hope that the price of fuel stays down so I can fish a lot this summer. I'm glad that I have most of the equipment that I need.

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In the last two months, I had one commercial client and two wedding clients cancel bookings (and walk away from their non-refundable deposits) because in the current economic downswing they couldn't afford to follow through. I'm not inferring that. It's what they told me.

Instead of buying presents for all our kids and parents for Christmas this year, we've decided to draw names out of a hat and keep gifts limited to $10. Because, after all, it's the thought that counts in Christmas, not the dollars, right? wink

Luckily, the gas price drop has allowed me to continue to travel into the area around my home to search for excellent nature photographs. It's also made travel associated with existing contracts more affordable, thus increasing profits slightly. If gas was still up around $4/gallon with the rest of the economy where it is, we'd be hurting pretty bad.

And Ely as a community, while it has some other income generators, is predominantly a tourist economy. When the economy is bad, you get less tourism in general. The good news there is that even though communities like ours get fewer people coming in from Chicago and New York and California, people still want to vacation, so the Minnesotans and Wisconsinites who were traveling to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite are now staying in their home state but traveling still, so it tends to be pretty close to a wash for Minnesota tourist communities.

All that being said, we as a nation and a state and individuals will recover. We always have. This nation has a confidence and a drive and an optimism that befuddles a cynical world, but it doesn't befuddle us.

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Interesting post, Gunflint.

I have a view on this that definitely involves politics, albeit in a non-partisan manner.

Politicians have made the economy worse by screaming "Crisis!" from the mountaintops - Democrats, Republicans, Mormons, Wiccans, all of them.

Personally. My wife has gone back to school to get her BA & Masters, & I am in a busy time at work (Nov/Dec) when I need to use the home computer to work at night.

This obviously leads to us needing the computer at the same time. We planned to buy a laptop & a wireless network for the house about a month ago, both anticipating our work/school needs as well as the future needs of our two girls.

We never went through with it. All the shouting about the Great Depression, recession, job losses, etc. that emanated from the campaign trail & Washington alarmed us. Even though I hope (hope!) that our jobs are safe, we chose to postpone these purchases for now. Really for no reason - just a nebulous fear.

That fear was caused by politicians. Of all parties. I suspect there are a lot of folks out there like me & mine who curtailed spending, even though we didn't have to (yet), just out of a vague feeling of unease.

Kind of liked shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre with no A/C on a hot August night. If our leaders say we should be terrified often enough, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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most of our changes were spurred by the three and four dollar gas prices. that being said, even though it's in the mid-dollar range now, we're still conserving cash as though petroleum was still high. to that end, We've cut our christmas spending; also have been shopping clearance sales, going-out-of-business sales, other deep discount events since about, the middle of January. been buying a much higher percentage of generic brands. also, been buying second-hand for many things, and utilizing the freebie sections of various websites, FM, C-List, the various Freecycle sites, that sort. instead of buying a lighting solution for my boat, I'm building one out of stuff I have laying around. In july I sold my Dakota, and bought a 10 year old Outback. milage went from 13 to 31, and it'll still pull my boat just fine. Also, on the gas price issue, we've bought a supply of fixed-price fuel from First Fuel Banks, because personally I don't believe for an instant that the gas prices will stay low forever. Prior to the sale of the truck, I'd been driving my wife's Camry, (she works from home) and shorefishing almost exclusively. I'm hopefull that with fuel dropping, and with the Subie instead of the Dodge, I'll be able to afford pulling the boat around a little more next summer.

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First off I want to say that Mormans and Wiccans are not political groups Max, they are religions. Last time I said anything slightly religious or racial in tone I got sent to my room by the Mods.

Back on topic and keeping this completely non partisan. The economy drives the economy. When its good, its good, when it gets bad, it gets worse before it gets better. Gas prices are dropping wich has helped, hopefully all the speculation of the continued fall of gas prices holds true. I won;t be holding my breath for the "Gas for less than a dollar a gallon" predictions to come true though.

As for my own family, we have curtailed our spending to needs not wants. We purchased a Ford Focus for the wife to drive to school daily VS driving the expedition. 32 mpg beats 14. For Christmass we are concentrating on the kids, with the wife and I going with a simple gift to each other. Lastly, Waste Management is not getting anymore aluminum cans in the recycle bin. I am saving them to turn in myself. They can have the cardboard, glass and plastic.

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This economy mess has us trying very hard to curtail our spending for Xmas. Trying harder than normal to pad our savings accounts. We are seeing job shuffling and cutting at work and that definitely tends to give one an uneasy feeling. And of course the statements from the IRA and 403b accounts are outright depressing cry

I agree with Max that all the political grandstanding making things worse, and don't forget the big news machines trying to add more drama to the issue. Anything to grab a little publicity mad

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I'm in the same boat as many. My wife was laid off after 16 years with the company while our CEO has secured his own personal bonus plan in which he can gain as much as 300% of his salary. Disgusting.

Now with places like AT&T announcing they'r laying off 14,000 employees, I can see the telecomm industry taking another huge hit this year. Not sure if I'll be employed this summer with this news as they're a large part of our business.

With only one income in the house, our focus is on the kids this X-Mas.

I can't totally blame everything on the big oil companies. I think our own corporate executives are as much to blame with the outrageous incentive plans/disgusting bonuses. I don't see any CEO in a publicly traded company who is in their position for the long term benefit of the company, shareholders or the employees.

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I guess until it affects mine or my wife's employment, I totally ignore it.

I can't even stand to watch the "Doom and Gloom" news anymore. They actually seem happy to report this stuff.

I was thinking about this as I was waiting in line yesterday just to enter the parking ramp to pay $12 to park and then bumping shoulders all day at the ice show and talking with some of the vendors. There was no shortage of money being spent.

Is perception worse than reality?

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Nice question Gunflint.

Our sacrifices:

1. significantly reduced Christmas spending. (like you, I really don't think its a bad thing)

2. we recently joined the ranks of the uninsured. Currently shopping for a better plan.

3. Reduced costly leisurfe activity. Yesterday was the first day I have fished in 6 months or so.

4. less food on the table (though we are far from starving). No more ice cream!

5. My wife has quit he rjob because no money is made after daycare/gas is accounted for.

6. Got rid of the cell phone (someone always has one when you need it). Will be disconnecting the cable in a few weeks.

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One of the problems is that a down-turn or recession is self-feeding. With the economic situation as it is, people are tightening up theri wallets. This isn't just out of future uncertainty but is justified. At the same time, the fact that we tighten our wallets, feeds the problem. We spend less, the economy slows down, businesses lay off, there's fewer people working, they spend less, the potential for further degradation gets worse, we tighten our wallets some more, and we go round and round.

Eventually things hit bottom and there's only one way to go from there. In the mean time things can get pretty tough.

Bob

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A couple of years ago I heard a new story that basically said for the first time that Americans were spending more than we were making as a whole. It doesn't take too much of an economic genius too figure out that this wasn't sustainable. I don't remember anyone sounding the alarm. (or it wasn't reported heavily if someone was). Too many were spending money that they didn't have. Hopefully we are just going through a correction back to more sensable levels of spending. Too bad it happened so quick.

Our family cut the Christmas gifts a few years ago. Personally I would say it has been a great relief. A little less stress and a more enjoyable Christmas. Fishing instead of shopping. I cut back quite a bit on the fishing this summer when gas prices were high. I would of had to cut back on hunting if they hadn't dropped. I tried to carry lunch with me instead of eating out. There still seems to be alot of cars in restuarant parking lots when I go by. So, people haven't completly shut off their spending.

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Man, does this hit home. Last Monday I didn't give it too much thought. On Friday morning, I was called in for a 1-on-1 with my boss and he told me I'd been "surplused". I don't think I've heard another man say "sorry" so many times in 20 minutes.

After 20 years and 4 months with this very large company, I'm getting the axe in February '09. As an Account Manager, I'd done pretty well over the years and significantly grew sales revenue for this company. Earlier this year, 2 of my 5 accounts saw the economic writing on the wall early and started downsizing and cutting back. My business began to suffer to a point that I couldn't recover for the remainder of the year. Of the handful of my peers locally, my numbers were worst and whack. I have yet to hear what happened to my peers nationally. I know that others in my situation got smacked also.

The conversation that morning with my (stay-at-home-mom) wife was the hardest discussion I think I've ever had. What an emotional roller coaster this weekend has been. Wouldn't wish this on anyone.

We feel blessed that we've had the opportunity for her to stay home and we've lived well within our means for all those years. I'm good at what I do (did) and remain hopeful we'll be OK until I find something else. But, I sure didn't see this coming.

Our kids are our priority and we'll focus on making Christmas for them as normal as possible, but there will be less for sure. My wife and I have been saying plenty of prayers since Friday and we'll see what's in store for the next chapter of our lives.

One thing's for sure...my first portable shack is now on hold. (Sorry, CanvasCraft.) Looks like the "eyes" are going to be a little safer this winter.

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Sorry to hear the news Dellfin.

I sincerely hope things turn around for you and your family quickly.

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We've stopped listening to the news and started tipping more.

Frankly, the doom and gloom wasn't doing me any good, and waitresses need the money. Seriously. And we're not wealthy by any stretch. It's a choice. I tell you what, the world might still be a mess, but it sure seems a whole lot more fixable after you've slipped an extra buck under your coffee cup in the morning.

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Well Dellfin, I too got the notice that my employment is ending January 31, 2009 so I empathize with what you've gone through this past week. My wife is now looking for a job. It will be tough for her as she is an immigrant and english is rather hard for her although she does have a 4 year degree from her former country. Although severance and savings will keep the wolves away from the door for the next year or so I fully expect our little recession to rapidly progress to a depression and that our unemployment rate will go over 20%. I'm not planning on having any meaningfull work for 3 years or so. No worries though, if worse comes to worse my wife and kids will go back to my wife's former country (she has US citizenship) where she can earn a good living and I'll try to keep up something here. Although once the Corba runs out I'll be dead in a couple of months (there is no way I can get health insurance for me at any price and some of my pills are rather expensive). But at least an insurance company / drug company exec will be able to waste some bling on their dogs.

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Sorry to hear about the guys who have lost employment. Good things will come to those who put forth the effort. Thoughts and prayers from my family to yours.

From my standpoint, things have slowed in my industry (construction) significantly. I am working longer hours for less work, but so far, I have been able to keep my crew of 8 working. I know my company should be able to keep them working for at least the next month, but we will have to see what develops from there. It would kill me if we had to lay off good people anytime, but before Christmas would make it much worse.

I do not mind working harder for less, it is just part of playing the game. The guys who put out the effort now, will be rewarded in the future. I am of the firm belief that in times of economic slowdown, there is the most opportunity.

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Wildabeast,

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from getting traditional health insurance go and sign up for minnesota comprehensive insurance. (MCHA I think)

This is what my family had to do recently. I lost my group plan through my work and Myself and my wife and my son all qualified for this insurance due to restrictions that would have been placed on us by insurance companies. It doesn't cost any more than traditional insurance(maybe even a little less)and the coverage is not too bad. Not as good as a really rich group plan but not too bad.

We are also cutting back as much as possible. All x-mas presents will be for my son only. My wife and I don't really need anything anyway. I have always been frugal and liked to buy things used but now it is almost an obsession!

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You two (Dellfin and Wildabeast) must be incredibly good employees to have earned that kind of respect from your employers -- 6 to 10 weeks notice? Wow. The last time I got the old heave-ho he waited until the day I returned from Christmas vacation. That hurt.

I guess that's why I'd thank a guy for that much warning.

Then again, if I was Dellfin I would buy that icehouse and list April 1 as my potential start date on all my applications for employment. The month of March chasing Walleyes and Jumbo Perch on Devils Lake might be a fitting present for 20 full years of gainful employment.

Sometimes you have to say you've earned a thing, even when you might not be able to say you can afford it.

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Only difference for me is that i am back to driving as much as I did when gas was $1.XX range a few years back. I guess I dont get affect by anything else being single with no kids. If I loose my job though, everything will go away.......

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One reason an employer may hesitate to provide too much warning is the risk of sabbotage. Imagine you are an employer and you need to make cuts. Who will you cut? Those that are your top performers or those that are borderline? Those that are borderline are also the most likely ones that are least satisfied with their job as it is and now you're going to tell them that they are being cut. They may decide to take it out on the company before they leave.

Just a thought.

Bob

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...long rambling ahead... caution smile

I know I am good with my job at least until Jan 2009. And I am 99.9999% sure I will be able to keep working at least half time after that. My boss has downsized to just me and him and his wife part time , and a part time accountant. He had to cut two people several months ago. So I know nobody is safe, but I know I am on a project where my name specifically is in the contact with the customer, that I have to be retained smile and that contract is paying for me and then some. I know he needs me to do a good portion of his business. And he and I are both veterans of running the show in lean times, and it is actually times like this that give us good opportunity to try things out of the ordinary. So while I am feeling safe right now, I know from experience that things can change in a NY minute....

We made several larger than normal investments this year, some that will pay off and some that inherently won't (used sleds). So cash flow is down, by our own hands, but I am very frugal and have always have been a "save for the rainy day" type person. Well, it seems the rain is here in the big pisture, so hopefully I was smart enough. I always have contingency plans, and hope to never have to use them.

We drive less, still, and don't eat out much at all. We always have shopped for bargains, and still do. The grandkids are getting less $$ spent on them, but still they are getting nice stuff, and I am still putting $$ into the roth and 401k investments, as $$ put in now will pay off nicely by the time I retire. However, that would be the first thing to be reduced once something bad happens (layoff...) and my wife and I have been there plenty times, I am just not that afraid that I wouldn't be able to find a job, even in tough times.

Best thing a person can do is stay out of credit card debt, and have no car/vehicle payments. I have neither and that is what is helping us out right now.

I wish you folks getting laid off the best of luck. I do think that while it hurts, things usually work out for the better. I hope the hurting doesn't last too long for you.

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looneyducer- I like the way you think! I just might run that by my wife, using your logic, and see how it works. Thanks for the idea. A few walleye meals in the freezer would help supplement groceries too. I could argue that the new shack would provide an eventual return on investment.

Wildabeast, keep your chin up.

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The gas prices killed me this summer forcing me to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle, so I wound up adding a car payment to my already thin budget, plus insurance. At the time and for what I was paying for in gas per month to do my job, I felt I had no other option but to try and save money on fuel. Now gas prices are back down, and I am happy about that but still have a car payment to make, plus the additional insurance. I drive about 50000 miles a year for my job, I do get to expense mileage, but it hardly covered the cost of gas and defintely not tires, oil changes, etc.. The company I work for is not hiring new people to fill in for those that have quit etc., and is increasing responsibilites for those of us who remain by adding new territory for those of us who can handle it. This past spring Feb 2008 I refinanced my house taking out the equity to finish a remodel project. I now owe more on my house, then what it is worth, which I guess is ok because I don't plan to move, but does bother me thinking that my remodel project had added to the value of my home. My 401k lost about 40 percent, but I know that will recover in time..

To me the gas prices this summer and spring is what started all this downward spiral in our economy. It effected everything, like food prices and people just trying to get to work. I cover an area now in my job from the Twin cities, to Sidney Montana. I feel although things are a little rough right now, it will get better by next summer, and people will have made the financial adjustments they needed to. I feel very sad for those who have lost their jobs or have been given notice. Hopefully it is a stepping stone to something better for you guys. My wife has picked up a part time job, for atleast over the holidays to help get us into recovery mode and buy some presents for the kids. We will be fine.

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It was a terrible year for me I had to buy a new car so I'm spending more there then Gas just killed me (still reeling from that)work is cutting hrs to Keep guys working instead of layoffs so that's a 1/5 reduction in pay, some crews will be cut by 40% I heard today.

These are friends and hardworking good men and women, possibly even myself.

Times are getting worse.......

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