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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is the recession getting a do-over?

by Lili Mounce

Two things in the news this week that grabbed my attention. One, the passing of Ray Bradbury. This both surprised and saddened me.  Surprised, because I didn't even realize he was still living (that's how un-current I am -- hey, I've been raising a family for the last 25 years). But saddened, because his novel, The Illustrated Man, was the first adult book I ever read (without prompting from teachers).

I was in the 8th grade.  My mom and I were in the drugstore.  And there was a stand of paperback best sellers.  The title and cover grabbed my attention, so I picked a copy up.  My mom about jumped out of her shoes to buy this for me, as I'd been a non-reader, for the most part. We took it home and I devoured it in one weekend.  Later, when I was in high school, Ray Bradbury came to speak at our school.  An English teacher, there, had a connection with him, and he was invited to speak at an assembly.  That was memorable for me. Hearing of his passing saddened me yesterday, a reminder that my youth is so many days behind me.  I went to my bookshelf to see if I still had that copy of The Illustrated Man, and sure enough, 40 years later, I still have it.

The other item in the news is perhaps more relevant to this blog.  Warren Buffet spoke at the Economic Club of Washington, on June 5.  And when Warren Buffet speaks, people listen. Mr. Buffet says that we will not likely slip back into a recession.  But he also adds, that what happens overseas could be a game changer for our economy.

So, if Mr. Buffet says the odds of a recession reboot are low, then it must be true, right? Tell that to the people who've been on unemployment for the expanded allotment and have just now been dumped off, with no real job prospects.  Tell that to the person, who following the governments advice to get retraining, did just that, and now can't find work in either their old or new fields. Tell that to the family that never in their life used a food bank, and now are there every week just so they can eat. Tell that to my wallet, every time I pull a couple of twenties out for gas, just to take my kids to school each week.

Whether it's a recession, or just a "sluggish economy" (a phase used by the government to make it not sound so bad -- have you ever seen a slug move across the ground?), everyday people are being squeezed.  Squeezed at the gas pump, squeezed at the grocery store, squeezed every time they have to fill a prescription. Plain and simple, the squeeze hurts.

People of all income groups are paying higher prices, while seeing their earnings still reduced.  It's just that the higher income people don't "feel it" as much, as their basic need for food and shelter is still affordable. In the stock market tumble of 2000, I asked my dad about his losses in the market.  He just said "it's all on paper, kid".  When you have a lot, you can say that it's just all on paper. But when your paper is much smaller, it hurts.

How do I know so many people are financially hurting? Just google "frugal  living  blog". So many results will pop up, it'll blow your mind. People blog about what's current in their lives. And "having to be" frugal is what's current for so many.

So, what's a person (or family) to do? Well, the modern technology of the internet is both an alarm and a help.  It's alarming to find so many people needing to write about how they pinch their pennies.  But they're a resourceful lot.  They blog about so many different ways to spend less. And this appears to be a big help to so many. If you're feeling the squeeze, (and you likely are, or you wouldn't be here at my site), try some of their ideas. Take comfort knowing that so many others are also stretching to make ends meet.  Don't give up. Keep plodding along reducing debt, tiny bit, by tiny bit, and building a savings cushion, small amounts at a time.  A frugal lifestyle really will work. It takes time, but I can testify that it will work.  Frugal living has worked for my husband and me.

I began my own blog just a few weeks ago, and have been astounded that other people would appreciate what I have to say about saving money. I'll continue on, sharing what I've done over the years, in hopes that it'll help someone, somewhere to get through this "sluggish economy". Recession, "sluggish economy", whatever you want to call it, it's hurting you, I know it, and I'm here to help.


  1. Sometimes I wonder if our government's mindset of our nation's financial crisis is "It's all on paper".

    I don't watch a lot of tv, but I have occasionally caught ABC's "Made in the USA" segments (on World News Tonight) and I think they are on to something. It's hard in many areas to find American-made products (especially in clothing) but I am trying to make more of a conscious effort to "go American" and especially "go local". It may not be all that helpful since we frugalistas don't purchase a lot to begin with!

  2. Hi Kris,
    The government puts out the weekly numbers in their reports, but those numbers don't tell the whole story. Each political party uses the numbers to their advantage. I don't feel that listening to the latest reports is all that helpful. Talking with real people about their everyday lives seems to give me a better feel for how our economy is doing.

    As for Made in the USA (I love that segment on ABC News, too), you're right about the difficulty finding Made in the USA clothing, there's not much selection is there, in that department? I tried very hard at Christmas to find the Made in the USA label.

    The "go local" I especially appreciate for food. It's likely fresher, I think it tastes better, it uses less fuel to transport, you can find more organic stuff grown locally, and it's usually less expensive.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. I really enjoy your blog, Lili! You've got a lot of creative ideas (heck, I'm still in awe of your prowess with rhubarb).

    1. Thanks, Pamela! I take that as very high praise, coming from you. I've very much enjoyed your commentary style on your blog. It's one of the first things I click to in the morning. As for the rhubarb, well, when you've got a lot of it, (and some years it seems like it's the only thing to do well), you have to figure out what to do with it. Next, I'm thinking of knitting a sweater with the strings from the rhubarb. Macrame belt, perhaps?

  4. There's been a lot about the death of Ray Bradbury in the UK newspapers this last weekend but I heard it first on your blog! Thanks for keeping me up-to-date! He sounds a good writer for the simple liver with his 'nostalgia for a simpler, old-fashioned way of life' and I like that his preferred mode of transport was a bicycle! I read Dandelion Wine years ago but think I'll have to put it on my list to re-read and The Illustrated Man sounds good too! (As for the recession...I've given up listening to the media and the government...the positive stance of us frugal bloggers is much more inspiring!)

    1. Glad I could be the newsboy! I was always impressed by Ray Bradbury's personal choices as well. I haven't read Dandelion Wine. I'll look for it at my library. And you're right about ignoring the media's and government's take on the recession. What's going on with people can be found out by talking with and reading about the people themselves. I love hearing the positive stories, like people who blog very publicly about digging their way out of debt -- very inspiring!


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