Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What The Money Crisis Means To The Average Joe

I find it a bit frightening that out of all of my co-workers, I was the only one who actually took time on Monday to see how congress voted on the Bail-Out Bill.

Surely I can't be the only one who is concerned about this!

I have a 401K tied up in Wachovia. And it deeply concerns me that CitiBank is wanting to absorb Wachovia. Just when did CitiBank get big and strong enough to absorb a bank as large as Wachovia? What's going on in the financial world?

The part I found most interesting is a quote I read saying that the folks trading at the stock market exchange were holding off to see how the vote went because many had plans to quickly dump the bad stocks in their portfolios so that the Government would purchase them and keep them afloat.

The key words being Bad Stocks. Meaning poorly earning companies that are publicly owned.
The dogs that slow down a portfolio from producing top dollars.

I have to scratch my head at this. Shouldn't a company that is not living up to its earning prospectus be expected to fold? Why keep doing CPR to a dead dog? Let it die and move on!

Didn't that used to be the American Way? Isn't America supposed to be a place where anyone is allowed the opportunity to try to achieve their dreams? And isn't America also the place where people who aren't properly prepared for success are allowed to fail, lick their wounds and then come up with an even better idea due to the things they learn after they have failed?

And it just appals me that there were so many riders tacked on to a bill of such magnitude of importance. Even though I know it is just standard operation for those proposing bills to congress to try to tack on little stipulations that have nothing to do with the initial bill... but on one with so much at stake - for them to tack on such things... well, I'm just glad congress voted this one down.

I know this bill will be re-worked and re-submitted. And it will be interesting to see what happens next. Congress doesn't reconvene until Thursday. Meanwhile, the stock exchange is still open for business. The sky is still blue. I still have my birthday.

So what does this mean to the average person? Why should my co-workers be paying attention?
Well, first off, our aises will be smaller. Everyone is going to have to pay higher taxes and because our employers are paying those higher taxes, they will be less willing to reward the little guy. Please note that this is regardless of what sort of bill gets passed, or if no bill gets passed. Times will be tight for the next 8 years at least.

Here at my house, times are already tight. We don't have a mortgage or a car loan to pay on. But our rent will likely go up. Or our landlady may finally decide it is time to sell the place. Are we prepared to make an offer in such an unstable financial market? But then again, maybe the market value of this house will FINALLY go down to meet the TRUE value of this house. And THEN it would actually be WORTH buying. As it stands, the price is inflated $30,000 over what it is truely worth. I look at the valu of the houses on my block and try to hold back tears. I cannot believe my neighbours would sink so much money into a house in this neighbourhood.
This is NOT a prime spot in my fair city!

There will be more company layoffs. More hiring freezes. Our college students will have a tough time finding jobs in their area of study. In that respect, at my house, we are fortunate there as well. With Hubby working in the service industry, and me working in a health care environment, I think we're fairly safe at the moment. Of course, that could change. At this point, it's all in the air waiting to land.

I'm most curious to see what my 3rd quarter statement for my 401K is going to say. I've never made a killing with it. It's just been a steady growing little nest egg. If it is lost, I don't think I'll cry. But I know others who have portfolios in that 401K who have been putting the maximum allowed amount into their 401K for years. THOSE people will be crying if it is lost. And I do feel for them, especially knowing that they are close to retirement and are really counting on that money.

Another thing I wonder about is, will we be allowed to open a Christmas Savings Account again next year? This year it was more than worth it. Our return will be double our initial investment.
What will the interest rate be next year? Will it be worth it?

How can you not be curious about such things? Wake up, People! The entire world is watching this unfold, and here on our own soil there is just so much ignorance happening! I just don't get it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Planning Ahead

So my sister called me last week all in a panic.
She's already worrying about Family Christmas.
"Should we rent a Hall? Where would we rent one if we do that?"

I calmly told her that I was under the impression that Family Christmas would be held at our house this year. And she pauses and says "Really". Not "REALLY?" as in "Oh my goodness! You'd actually take on this responsibility so we don't have to worry?" Or "REALLY" as in "Oh that is such a load off my mind! I was hoping you'd say that!"

It was more like "Really? But your house is such a mess!" But of course she didn't come out and say that. She would never say that. I know my House will never be as clean as hers is. Hell, it's not even ever as clean as I want it! But the point is, we have the space (kind of) and it will actually be so much easier to have everybody here rather than load up the van and head off somewhere else.

And, of course, this will allow Hubby the opportunity to cook for the masses. He loves doing that.
As long as everybody doesn't show up with a crock pot to plug in, we'll do just fine. Our Electrics in this house are a bit iffy. And... we can have Glorious EGGNOG!!!!!! Be still my heart!

Can we fit 20+ family members into our small abode?

Last year we held our First Annual Thanksmas Party at our house. We managed to fit 13 people in here comfortably, and we all had a great time! So what's 22 people? And not one our Thanksmas Guests said "My GAWD! This place is a MESS!" Right now, this house is 10 times cleaner than it was that night. And let me tell you, I did a bit of crisis cleaning the week before that party.

Since then, we've stripped and refinished our living room floor - which lead to painting the ceiling, and woodwork, and lead to having to wash all the walls, and remove all art work and scrub them all down before re-hanging.

And our dining room has also undergone total renovation. It's not perfect, but it looks good enough to make me really happy when I enter this room.

The only room that is in total chaos is our kitchen. But the world will have to forgive us for not sinking a lot of money into that room right now. We're too busy bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But speaking of Thanksmas, we WILL be holding yet another one this year. The date is still pending. It turns out the folks I work with are thinking of planning a Christmas Party either the first or second weekend of December. So I guess the date that DOESN'T fall on, will be our Second Annual Thanksmas Party.

As for Family Christmas, we're thinking the 27th of December. Hopefully by then, I'll have come up with some solutions to my awful kitchen and my darling sister won't run screaming in terror. We'll get through it. Isn't that what Lorazepam is made for? Mmmm. Lorazepam! Shiny!

Okay, So I Lied

I've become a bit obsessed lately with Blogs.
It started with me finding Home Improvement Blogs and Home Renovation Blogs. Then I started clicking on their links to see what blogs bloggers like to read.
I somehow stumbled onto The Blogess - and I SO want to MEET this gal! Too bad she's way down in Texas because I can totally see the two of us getting into all sorts of Thelma and Louiseish mayhem. Okay, more like LaVerne and Shirleyish Mayhem. The great thing is that she is a warped individual with the ability to articulate that warpedness into writing for all the world to read and appreciate. Yup! She is awesome!

And I've been thinking "Well, I do have a Blog Spot. I COULD start using it." But then, what would I talk about? Do I share with the world my frustrations in trying to keep my house clean? Because it's a daily battle for sure. I clean a spot, and 10 minutes later, some other family member feels they need to clutter it up.

Do I share our financial battle with the world? Um. No. That could get ugly.

Do I share our latest home improvement projects with the world? Sure! Why not? They're small scale compared to many of those out there, but we're making progress.

Do I share the trials and tribulations of my work days? Nah, it's best not to do that. I hear that employers now do searches and can use that against a person. However, at the moment, I must say that work is quite rewarding. I even received a STAR this week - which is quite an accomplishment. I feel good that I was recognised for the work I do above and beyond the standard job description. Now, I need to find that in my fellow coworkers and nominate them as well so that there is no contention amongst the troops!

The thing is, I don't want some average blog that gets ho hum reviews. I want a blog that people will want to read. One that will make them tune in each week just to see what I have to say.
But has it all been said before? Who knows! Probably!

Any way, I'm gonna try. If only to keep up my excellent writing skills. Look Out World, cuz Aunt Bren is going public! Muwaaaahaaaahaaaaa!