As usual, the comments attached to the poll are more interesting than the poll results. There’s some interesting tidbits of information in these comments, along with some good advice.
I’ve sorted the comments from happiest to not-so-happy, and I think it’s noteworthy that while there’s concern, there’s also more sunlight than clouds in the comments, and a general level-headed, take-things-in-stride attitude, which is more positive than perhaps the typical news account these days.
Part I: Life Is Good!
Come To Alberta!
[Can] Literally, [Alberta] owns slightly less oil than the House of Saud and as a citizen I get a cut. Buy another Hummer, your last one eliminated my health care premiums. A monkey with a welding torch can make six figures up here in the oil patch. The worse the “problems” get, the lower my taxes go, and the higher my quarterly bonus gets. The only “problem” is that housing prices are completely insane here. I’m paying $220,000 for a new 875 square foot, two bedroom condo. Anything a family could live in is at least $400k.
Unemployment is virtually nonexistent. I have literally worked with retarded drug addicts that didn’t speak English who made $20+ an hour, and had zero chance
of being fired no matter how badly they screwed up. Fast food places
are importing people from third world countries just to keep the doors open. You can forget about a 2 am drive thru run because no one in their right mind would agree to work the grave yard shift at
McDonald’s. Anyone with half a brain, and/or a strong back is making
$100k+ within 5-10 years of entering the work force.
I Am On A Mission From God!
(Can) My goal in life is to have an amazing computer. I’m not going to let the economy, polar bears or high cellphone prices get in the way.
Pedalling To Prosperity
(USA) I am not as affected by much of this economic downturn because I don’t
drive unless I’m going on a trip out of town. I’ve been biking to work
for the last 3 years now, and the annual savings in gas money have
skyrocketed! I highly recommend this for anyone that can do it. I
always have the best parking spot; I don’t have to wait in long lines of
traffic getting out of the parking lot after work, and it only adds 5
minutes to my 2.5-mile commute. Like many people I live in a seasonal
climate where you can’t really bike across snow and ice, but riding to
work on nice days alone can cut your gas bill in half.
Get A Little Closer, Part I
(USA)The one good thing about gas prices going so high, is that I now realize I can afford to live in a nicer house by moving closer to work. A simple 15 mile relocation will end up saving me and the wife over $200 a month in gas. This money is going to go straight to the purchase of a nicer house in a nicer area. Personally I’d much rather pay that $200 a month to my mortgage instead of the Big Oil companies. It’s all about making lemons out of lemonade.
Get A Little Closer, Part II
(USA)I work for the City I live in. I do a lot of home visits as part of my job but I rarely use my personal car as they have city cars available for us to use and I try to use them as often as possible. I usually rack up between 600-900 miles a month in the city car (which I don’t have to pay gas for). Currently we only get reimbursed at 51.5 cents a mile if we use our own personal car (which has gone up from 44.5 cents since I’ve been hired in 2006). I only drive about 100-200 miles a month in my own personal car, which is just basically to the store for supplies or errands.
I pay all my bills online save rent, which I get a money order from the post office which is across the street (same as my job). I got an apartment near my job because I didn’t see a point in a commute when I drive a lot for my job as it is ;). Another plus benefit I have now is that I don’t pay anything really in gas a month. Additionally I have all I need at my place for working out (bought a full sized home gym for 100). I basically don’t need to go out for much at all. The only thing I am really worried about is a potential zombie apocalypse ;).
With the fuel price problems I worry that may raise ammo prices, as well as computer parts because lots of computer components are made from plastics. I don’t think it will lead to a cut back at my job although they have been trying to keep costs down. Otherwise I keep shopping used (bought another Q6600 for $135 with heatsink 🙂 ) because I plan on building 3 more quad core machines to help my SETI crunching stats (Currently around 33,000 place in the world standings out of 1.6 million). I do more than my share of work at my job but I only plan on staying there at most until November 2011, which would allow me to be eligible for retirement benefits. My sister and her husband told me I could stay with them in California so that may be an option (I’ll be 30 then and have lots of options 🙂 ).
In the meantime I will prepare my first triple monitor setup and possibly add a 4th touchscreen monitor on a monitor arm near my futon as an advanced overkill remote control :D.
(US)I’m the supervisor for a computer repair in a big name retail store. (I’m sure you can guess, but I’m not going to say). People are spending just as much today as they have 6 months to a year ago. People are upgrading graphics cards, adding memory, buying second/third computers, etc. People may or may not have the money to do these things, and that is none of my business…but people will always spend the money that they don’t have, no matter how poor the situation gets.
Indians Getting Pricier
(US)So far though it really hasn’t affected me. Oddly it has had a positive effect in a way. I’m a software
engineer in Silicon Valley, and well, the US doesn’t actually produce a lot of those (people just don’t want to major in it for one reason or another according to one of my friends who works for the UCLA engineering department). But because the dollar’s value is falling and there is still a scarce number of software engineers, I’ve noticed that as outsourced workers in say India are not paid in dollars, they are getting more expensive by the day. So engineers in Silicon Valley are actually getting huge raises.
Getting Out of School And Into Money
(USA) I’m honestly doing better financially than I ever have before. I recently received a raise at work and am working significantly more hours, which has basically doubled my income from a year ago. I’m currently finishing my last year of college and have recently received almost enough grant and scholarship money to completely cover the rest of my anticipated school expenses, of which I’ve been paying 100% out of pocket. I usually make one or two significant upgrades to my computer per year, but this year I’m planning on building a completely new desktop rig, as well as purchasing a laptop.
My only concern is the significant chunk of my income going toward gasoline. I drive a 15 year old pickup which gets 18 MPG, with the cheapest gas around at $4.31. I’ve been casually shopping for a small, cheap car to supplement my truck for a few years but with my level of driving it still would not be economical as the insurance costs would offset most fuel savings.
Earn First, Burn Later
(USA) I try to live below my means and the adjustment to the new economic situation hasn’t had a real impact on me. It’s there and I can see it, but it hasn’t put me out. I always try to be smart about what I buy and I can spend 6 months or more before I pull the trigger. I try to buy at the sweet spot where something isn’t much more than what I need, but won’t leave me with regrets about not getting more.
Oh…and I never use credit. I put cash aside for what I want and wait till I have enough. That way I do not worry too much about things getting worse.
Look For The Silver Lining
(USA) I’m somewhat enjoying them. I am by no means rich, a mere graduate student stipend (~20k/year) for income, but significantly fewer people travel on the roads now during holidays it seems. It makes long drives that used to be very tiring not so bad when there are fewer people around. As for everything else like food prices, I am completely unfazed by them. The potentially biggest gain for me is that some nice trucks and v8 sports cars are getting cheap used. They just need to stay that way until I graduate so I can get one 🙂 To be clear, I see this as something like the 70s price hike with some cheap muscle cars. The rest of the gains are that the stock market seems to have taken a significant dive making it an ever better time to invest into retirement. The gains I should see from this downturn over the long term should be good. It only affects me negatively if it prevents me from acquiring a job in 2 to 3 years.
Gas May Be Expensive, But Cars Are Cheap!
(USA)One thing the slow economy and high fuel costs have done for me is get
me an awesome deal on my new car. Sometimes a bad economy can make for
good economics :).
I Still Make More Than They Take
(Belg) I always got paid a lot more than I consume ( not that I’m rich, but I
just don’t consume a lot). With the new situation : – high oil- , electricity-, gas-prices
high food prices, . . . I still get paid more than I consume, so there is no need to
change my way of living, and because I don’t see big problems in the future, I don’t think I
have to be extra careful.
I Learned My Lesson Well
(USA) I’m lucky in that I’ve learned from mistakes in the past and have set about to make sure I’m never in financial trouble again. I’m 100% debt free and own my home free and clear. In 2004 I had a bad feeling the debt financed joy ride this country has been on for so many years would come to a screeching halt in the not too distant future so I diversified my investments to better preserve the meager wealth I have in the event of a meltdown.
One of my more important realizations happened 3 or 4 years ago when I became aware of the fact that oil is a finite resource and the point at which the ever growing worldwide demand would meet the available (flat) production was not far away. At that point I purchased a Prius (even though I could drive about anything I want). Some of my friends thought I was nuts and even got a good laugh out of it. They aren’t laughing anymore. I love the Prius and the average of over 56+ mpg it has given me over the life of the car.
I was going to build a new PC last winter but decided to wait. Indecision on my part, not economically influenced. My current Northwood is getting a bit long in the tooth but still works OK under XP. Honestly, if it weren’t for photo editing I would probably stay with the Northwood but it is pretty slow and some of the apps I use fully support SMP so it is time to upgrade. I’ll probably go for a complete new build next fall/winter with a dual or quad processor.
I Got While The Getting Was Good
(Aus)I have to say that I already have a really nice setup at home so not feeling an urge to splurge, which helps. I also have personal circumstances weighing in with my parents basically becoming dependants, so my answers may be skewed somewhat.
The Opposite of Oil
(UK)Truth is I have been tempted to spend a bit more
lately not because eI expect thing to become more
expensive in the near future, but because the current
prices have dropped a lot in the past couple of years.
High end graphics card seem to be more affordable,
memory costs next to nothing and although AMD is not
very competitive CPU prices are still low. I would
also say that Desktops/Laptops for non-enthusiasts are
at a record low.
Obviously I expect the situation to change because of
the crisis, but not by much. Maybe if I see prices
sky-rocketing I might consider an upgrade. The big
difference comes in graphics cards since a 3-4 year
old top spec CPU with a modern GPU can handle anything
you throw at it with ease (maybe except Vista).
We really have to see, times are changing and I might
reconsider my stance sooner than expected.
Fair To Middling
A Little Pain, But My Bad
(Aus)I’m hurting a little, but no big deal. A lot of it is my own doing, allowing my credit card debt get a bit
high just as the economy slows, which in my field of work (freight
delivery) means less overtime, less money for me.
Kids Cost Too Much
(USA) We’ve been hearing about a “recession” in this country for a few years now, especially around the creeping cost
of fuels, and decreasing value of housing, but I wondered what all the hubbub was all about and never “felt” it until this year. Last year I knew that my wife and I were having a baby and that “computer money” was going to be rare to come by so I splurged and put together a real screamer. Looking back I am glad I did when I did because there is no way I would build a new one right now, and I’d be pretty unhappy with what I had hobbling through games like Crysis. As for “feeling it” – the reason why I say that I’ve started to feel it this year is because of two things: 1) It now costs me around $60 to fill up my peppy sedan’s gas tank (when I can actually find the 93 octane it requires due to some modifications I’ve made to it) where I was used to spending $40 on fill ups. 50% more money spent on gas is a real eye-opener when you think “I could buy a just-released video game for the same cash as what I spend filling my gas tank”. I understand that other people have it far worse than me (my brother-in-law drives a GMC pickup and pay $200 a week on fill ups) – but that’s where I realized how bad it hurt. I’ve considered removing some performance modifications and adjusting its tune so that I can drive on 91 octane again and save a few bucks… 2) My wife and I bought our house 2 years ago for a fair price, with it appraising slightly higher and landing a decent rate on our mortgage & equity loan to accomplish 100% financing. We’re able to make the bills just fine but now that we’ve had a child and are paying for day care (both of us have to work) we decided to try and refinance since we’ve heard the prime is at an all-time low. Our first application was denied in a round-about way because not only did we not have much equity, which we expected might only raise refinancing fees, but the value of our house has dropped “too much” for the bank to want to finance it again. That sucks, as we’d likto have a 2nd child in a couple years but there’s no way we’re going to get job raises equal to the amount of payingfor a 2nd child in day care. And when you think about money blocking you from having children it feels pretty sad. Now, would the prime drop as much as it has if the economy weren’t so bad? Maybe not – so maybe we’d be in the same place: no option to refinance because it wouldn’t be worth the cost due to the rates not being much lower. So I’m not sure if this is fully blamable on the economy or just our poor planning.
On the bright side – I work as a software engineer and feel pretty good about my job stability. It seems as though the “dot-com bust’s effect has reduced the number of computer science college graduates, which has resulted in more jobs being available, which has resulted in better job longevity as well as hiring pay. My wife is also a “ten-year’d” teacher so we’re safe there too.
Not Worried Yet, But. . .
(UK)In the bigger context, the only fear I have is if the economy takes a
BIG turn for the worse, going into deep global recession. I work in a
technology field, which is quite sensitive to economic wobbles. As long
as I have my job, I’ll keep spending as I feel like.
The Heartland Is Still Healthy
(US)Dual income family <100k/yr - w/ mortgage & student loans BUT no other debt. Private school for the kids. We pay cash (don't use credit) for what we buy... we save to buy cars (once we've put ~200k miles on them) & then pay cash for the replacement. We don't do "excessive" consumption as a rule - we buy what we need, of the best possible quality, so it'll last. We don't buy our kids frivolous stuff, but they have the basics - plus their own books, art supplies, TV, DVD player, VCR & computer.
House values have gone up – our area hasn’t seen “The Mortgage Crisis” or the bursting “Housing Bubble”. Banks made sketchy loans to unqualified people or people over-extended themselves on their primary. House ‘flippers’ are going to really get the shaft in many areas.
Yeah, gas prices suck but my driving habits are like before the increase(s).
I’ve noticed that most of the people bitching about gas/food/whatever price increases are still spending money on luxuries (booze, smokes, cell phones for everyone -even the kids-, movies, rims, bling, etc.)
I think that there’s more media driven drama about the economy than there really is. The “high cost-of-living” cities are feeling’ the bite, but most of small town America is doing okay.
A Long Overdue Correction, Part I
(US)I think this country and its people have overspent for TOO long – the correction could take a while. Last time we had a negative savings rate was before the great depression.
A Long Overdue Correction, Part II
*I would consider myself a world traveler and because of that I have paid $10/gallon for gas and had a $15 McDonalds combo meal. I see these all of these economic changes in America as something that has been a long time coming. How long could we expect to make more money on average than the rest of the world yet have a lower cost of living at the same time? I am no masochist so I don’t welcome the added expenses but I do welcome the change in efficiency and ideals that comes from hard times. If oil doesn’t get expensive, we will never develop better fuels or use better methods of transportation.
What all of this comes down to is that the excess that has driven our whole way of life is gone and we have to be smart. This could mean a golden age of hacking and tinkering. Before, we overclocked for fun and to save cash because we could, now we will do these things as a lifestyle.
Worried Or Worse
In The Eye of the Storm
(USA) I live in Michigan, where the economy and housing market have been hit particularly hard. I could not sell my home right now for what I owe on it. My wife and I both have auto industry related jobs – she works for an engineering house that does work for one of the Big 3 and I work for a company that is in the automotive services / aftermarket segment. So we’re both more than a little concerned about our prospects for long-term employment.
Because of mounting energy bills and a desire to pay down debt, I can’t see myself buying any computer equipment or even any software for at least the next six months to a year. My video card is a couple generations old now and well beyond the point I’d like to upgrade, but I will continue to hold out until things stabilize or start to improve.
Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop
(Port) And it seems to be getting worse each day – this was the first weekend
we couldn’t go out on family excursions (we are just beginning to
practice geocaching) and last Friday we heard of about 30 people getting
laid off from our company – we’re all afraid we’ll be the next few. My
wife’s unemployed and I fear for the future…
Time for A New Career
(Malaysia) I’m a freelance audio engineer and getting a good income has always
been a problem here in Malaysia. There are many contributing factors
(lack of a union, bad clients, undercutting, favoritism, payment
delays, etc) and the worsening economic situation is not helping at
all. I have since sold my car and moved to public transport, which
does help ease the burden. I have also decided to move away from my
current field of work and look for something else. It may be too late
to start, but at this point, it’s better than nothing.
(USA) I work in construction, so as you can imagine things are really slow, though remodel work is helping a lot, I’m not making the type of money that I have in the last 2 years. we have decided to downsize our home so that cost of living could get better but we are a little afraid things will get worse.
The company my wife works for lost a big account and they are getting ready to lay off some people, though they did move her to another part of the company.
Cutting Back, In Detail
(USA) . . . my income is taking a beating. I’m in an industry where the high fuel prices are *seriously*
cutting into my employer’s profits. Since we are paid on bonuses as well as
wages, this has cut our pay back significantly. I cannot name company info, but I will mention that profits are down [a lot mostly due to the high price of fuels].
Then there’s the utility bills at home…… and food prices in the stores. Everything is going up, up, and up….. wages are not.
Cut expenses at home…… Cancelling some forms of insurance I have. Getting rid of “credit protection” on my card.
Turned off little used gaming subscription. Allowed magazine subs to lapse. Downgraded my Broadband to a lower tier (Yep!)
Turning off my Dish Network. (Ugh) and downgrading my Netflix.
To help with utility bills, I’m taking a lot of energy conservation
Disconnected the 2nd refrigerator. Hardly was using it. Using fans more, and setting A/C a little higher. Installed a
programmable thermostat; and I’ve got most lights now on CFL bulbs.
More significantly, I now power off everything when not in use. I went around the house…. I had all these “power brick
transformer” type devices plugged in that I rarely use….. Examples: Extra cordless phone handsets… Answering machine….
Cell chargers….. Battery charger….. Caller ID boxes…. Cordless tool chargers (several!) as well as various game consoles
etc….. all those bricks waste power even when the device is not in use. I unplugged ’em all.
Now I hard power off my PC when not in use. I shut it down, and then flip the switch on the surge suppressor, so it actually
cuts the power off completely from the PC and the components (Printer, Router, Modem, USB speakers, monitor, etc etc)
All that stuff, even in sleep mode, still wastes power. I even hard power off my entertainment center now….
(all those components, even when “off” are still drawing power waiting for you to hit the “On” button on the remote….)
The sad thing is…. despite these cutbacks….. my savings account balance is shrinking. And the stock market tanking
is making my 401k decline in value month after month. As for computer gear? Well there’s not going to be any upgrading
for me anytime soon. And I’m not going to buying any software or games or programs, either. 🙁
I’ve made all the easy cuts. Next comes the hard ones….. (IE car insurance(s), 401k plan contributions, etc)
Anyway, thanks for your attention.
Need I Say Any More?
(USA)Filed chapter 7 bankruptcy recently
The Last Word: Almost Poetic
If I was living alone, rather then with my girlfriend
I would be hurting more than a little.
Also, I would be forced to
find a girl to live with, I suppose.
I may have to move to another country someday
Or go into the wild.
I am having a hard time
justifying . . . anything that’s not on sale.
Still waiting for the 28″ lcd to drop 50 bucks.
I have made some much needed recent upgrades.
And they are gonna have to get me by for some time to come.
With an occasional purchase here and there
My economy stimulus check
went to make a payment to my credit card debt.
Which soon will be paid off.
Thanks again to all who answered the call!