Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Portrait: Lewistown, Idaho

I have to say that personally for my husband (28) and I (27), life is good, we both have full time jobs. We have been together for 9 1/2 years married for 3 1/2 years and we do not have any children.

Fortunately we both have jobs that don’t seem to take much of the hit in bad times, why, well my husband is in the beer and wine distribution business and they like to say “when times are good people drink and when times are bad people drink” and possibly more so for the latter. I am a Legal Assistant and there is always work to be done in my field even in bad times when the economy may take a hit these issues do not just go away. So we are gainfully employed, we own a large home that we bought in 2005 after selling our first home for a profit.

We have always seemed to live paycheck to paycheck because typically the more you make the more you spend while living this “American Dream” and we have not made any drastic changes since the economy started faltering, we pretty do what we want and buy what we want, altough we recenetly have been choosing to stay home more instead of going out and spending money excessively. We definitely could cut costs if necessary, we have cable TV with DVR and high speed internet, are insuring three vehicles and there are only two of us. We have a house that is bigger & nicer than either of us grew up in so I do feel grateful that we are able to pay our bills, we still eat out often and overspend recreationally, and we could save more money if it was necessary to do so.

That is not to say that I haven’t seen or felt the tough times, our $288.00 power bill for December was scary and I couldn’t believe that I was actually happy to only pay $225.00 for January, I was afraid it would be over $300.00 so $225.00 was a relief, the increase of the amount has nothing to do with the house it is usually not so expensive to heat, it was the heating price increase that made a big impact. Gas prices dropped dramatically this winter from around $4.65 a gallon to $1.37 a gallon, however that has not lasted long as we are already back to $2.00 a gallon and that makes me wonder how long it will be before they are out of control again.

I’ve definitely noticed the changes also from small specialty shops closing all around us, the increase in cost of consumer products, and the changes small businesses and even larger corporations are making to cut expenses. My brother is out of work and still looking, considering taking a job out of town keeping him away from his wife and children and his wife’s hours have been cut as well, they are both very willing and able bodies who are definitely seeing the effects of a sour job market. My Dad who is mentally disabled and on a fixed income is struggling and unfortunately probably always will be, my Mom passed away in summer 2007 at the young age of 58 and that meant losing her disability income as well, he was able to get his interest lowered on his credit card and is renting out the second bedroom to help make ends meet. Some friends are looking for second jobs to help pay the rent and Idaho’s employment rate for December 2008 was 6.4%, in December of 2007 it was just 2.7%, we are now at 6.6% and the jobs in the local newspaper are few and far between.

Here I am at 27 still thinking and over thinking the thought of having children. As a child my "American Dream" consisted of a great marriage, white picket fence and three children, the older I get and the more responsibilities I have the more I wonder whether or not we should have children. When I think of becoming pregnant the fears take over and all I can think of are the medical expenses, cost for daycare for 40 hours a week, the extra food, the extra clothes, the extra stress on myself, my marriage and our money and an unstable economy does not help to ease my fears on one of the biggest decisions I will ever make in my life.

In the mean time we will keep on working hard and keeping a positive mind set. I voted for President Obama and certainly felt a great sense of hope for a brighter future on Inauguration Day and I look forward to the possibility of better things to come now that we have a new leader to get us through these times!

Lewiston, Idaho