Nesting for the Poor House

I’m not even going to remind people where the world has been in the last week. It’s just too depressing. However, I knew things were bad when Mr. Demonic came in from work last night and told me HE was depressed.

Mr. Demonic is never depressed about anything. If he has a fault at all (well, I guess he has a few) it is that he tends to look on the cheery and positive side. Me, I’m a cynic. My kids had trouble in school. I had a feeling they were learning disabled. He thought they would grow out of it. We buy a business in Funkytown. I think we’re going to be stuck in a morass of corruption in a poor area of town. He sees a business opportunity.

In fact, he’s extremely optimistic when it comes to business. It could be because he’s had an uncanny knack for success. On the other hand, I’m always looking for Plan B because I’m not sure when the bottom is going to fall out. I grew up poor and started out my adult life that way. I know what it is to have nothing.

Perhaps I’m a Gloomy Gus, or it could be cynicism honed from years of let down.

So when he came in and started kicking himself over not selling our portfolio earlier (or at least paring it down), I was alarmed. It’s my job to be the Weather Girl and proclaim when skies are sunny or not, not his. I found myself in the weird position of telling him not to panic. Talk about role reversals.

Ever since the kids went to college, we’ve been nesting for the poor house. I’ve said this elsewhere, but my husband is a very smart man. He foresaw all of this financial mayhem long ago. I think he first started telling me about it just after the turn of the century. I thought he was nuts. Back in the Dot Com days, we were millionaires on paper, but when it turned sour and we were middle class again on paper, he started doing research and found it was going to get worse. Still, we’ve managed to live a fairly comfortable, yet frugal life.

We don’t go out to eat a lot. Part of it is that I’m a really good cook and I can barely stomach fast food. I can do restaurant food, but I’m fussy. If I can make it at home, it’s probably better. Plus, it’s so much cheaper.

We don’t have outrageous spending habits either. We both pay our charges in full at the end of the month, although I’m not sure how long that’s going to last given the current situation. We never took out a home equity, sub-prime loan to splurge on additions or remodeling, instead waiting until we had the cash to do it. We own a lot of worthless property, but only have two mortgages, thank the Lord. I’m the master of getting stuff for 50% off or more, especially if it comes to clothes.

When the babies were born, we started saving for college. Both the kids have college funds, although this week they’re probably not worth much. My son, Mr. D. Jr., is a spendthrift like his dad. He’s lived in one of the most expensive cities in the world for the last three and a half years, and for the most part all we foot is the rent money. He knows where to find adequate Chinese food for less than $5 including drink, and can make it last for two days. Now the other one, she’s another case. The hard reality of penny pinching is about to bite her in the rear end.

I’ve been eBaying. I told my close friend who used to clean my house every two weeks to only come every six. (I feel badly for her too. She’s a new grandma, and a lot of her clients are scaling back. She needs the money.) I mowed my own lawn this year, as well as the gardening. I grow my own fruits and vegetables. I learned how to can the vegetables and soup for use later. I’ll probably drive my car until it falls apart. I know we’ll have to live here because the house isn’t worth anything anymore. And I know I’ll probably have to work until I die, which will unfortunately be until I’m 110.

In another way, I know I’m lucky. I have a great family, and lots of good friends, both in the flesh and online. I have my health. I have some minor talents and things I can do that give me pleasure. I give back when I can, but it’s getting tighter and harder to do so.

We can’t put the world back together. I’m not sure what the government is doing will help at all. All I know is that I have to keep my own house in order, and not spend more than I make and take care not to waste a thing.

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15 Responses

  1. Now it’s your turn to balance Mr. Demonic out. 🙂

  2. I’m one that has always worried about money, even when there was nothing to worry about. Now I have so much more to worry about but interestingly, I am not so worried. At least not for myself. I haven’t got much to lose.

  3. Hubby had a bad moment too, but I reminded him that we should be okay, since we already know how to live on nothing.

  4. BTW If more people had the spending attitude you do we would have a better more stable economy.

  5. More people including the people in government who spend stuff. . .

  6. One of the perks of poverty: not having to watch your portfolio crash!

    I’m completely neurotic about money, so I worry about everyone else’s, too. I’m glad you’re doing okay!

    I start a new job on Monday, and there’s 401(k) paperwork. I’m not sure I should even sign up right now.

  7. Jackie, now is the perfect time to start a 401k. You’ll be buying stocks cheap and watching them go up. Unless the whole system implodes.

  8. Yes, Jacks, you’re young too, so it’s not like you’re going to need it in 10 years like I will. (Unless I keep working. Or if what KM said happens.)

  9. Yep, I feel ya. The only debt I have is my house, but even that seems like too much. My parents lost half of their retirement account last week, because my father refused to listen to my mom when she wanted to convert to T-bills earlier this year.

    Oddly, one of the things I worry about most is not being able to afford my housekeeper … not because I don’t know how to clean (although that’s not how I want to expend my limited physical energy) but because I know she needs the money … she has a developmentally disabled adult child living with her at home, and she scrimped and pinched and worked her ass off to put her daughter through college. I think I’d rather start skipping meals than tell her I have to let her go.

  10. I have a significant but decreasing pile of debt, due to a) my own youthful stupidity and b) three years of mental health problems and a mother coming to live with me just after I quit my job to paint for a year… I just try not to worry about it, and remember that I’ll have paid it all off in another 2 years.

    The current economic climate means that we’re all going back to the way that human beings have lived for most of the 140,000 years we’ve been around – i.e. with finances which make sense rather than all this invisible ‘leveraged debt’ and ‘futures options’ and other nonsense. If we want something, we either grow it or make it ourselves, or trade it for something we grew or made ourselves, or we save up and buy it, using the money from the things we grew or made ourselves. The suits in the banks will hopefully be the first ones to starve in a ditch 😉

    Pink Floyd, as usual, had it right: “Money, its a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash”…

  11. David – sorry to hear about your parents’ retirement account nosediving.

  12. Pink Floyd… those words brought back some memories, Truce.

  13. What everybody else said.

  14. Outstanding writing: will come back again,,

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