Thursday, February 19, 2009

Portrait: West Springfield, Massachusetts

West Springfield, Massachusetts

As the financial news gets wore every day, I look around and KNOW we are lucky. My husband holds a management position for a local company; a book bindery. In a tough economy like this, the bindery does not usually LOSE business, it may even do better-When school districts can't afford to throw out old battered textbooks and buy new ones, the have their old books rebound.

I worked part time after our 18 month old son was born, and since I worked from home, he stayed home with me. However, when he entered the toddler stage, it was time to leave my job and focus on him full time, and I quit in mid-January. I can't even convey the nervousness I feel at the thought of going down to one income in an economy such as this.....But we are car is paid off, we have lived in our house for 2 years and have a normal 30 year mortgage, not some crazy ARM that will screw us.....Still, living on one income is of course tighter than living on two.

And still I see how it is effecting everything around me.......My Father in Law lost over $100K in his 401K, my parents lost over $40K......retirement in the near future is now out of the question for my in laws or my parents, and they are all at or within 2 years of retirement age. My sister is about to be engaged, but workis slowing down for my Dad, so no one knows where the money to have a wedding will come from.

The Springfield Mayor announced they will be laying off 89 city workers immediately. Every time I am at the mall, I notice a new vacant store space that has just gone out of business.

Though my husband's job is secure and financially we seem to be okay, I am still scared. I am always looking for ways to save a few dollars. I take my calculator with me to the grocery store to make sure I stay within budget. I make my own laundry soap and dishwasher detergent. We eat out less, and when we do, we might go some place like Costco, where a Hot Dog is $1.50 (with soda) and a slice of pizza is $2.

I, like many others, try to just remind myself that: A) The most important thing is my family, and if we are pulling our belts in tighter just to be safe and cannot buy all the things we'd like to, well then, a person is not a summation of the things they own. B) we are very lucky not be dealing with a potential foreclosure, layoff, or loss of health benefits.

There have been hard times before and there will be hard times again-I have to have faith that everyone cutting back and learning to live within their means will eventually have a positive effect. Perhaps we will stop being a nation of spoiled consumers who equate material goods with happiness? Once can only hope.

West Springfield, Massachusetts