Saturday, November 8, 2008

Outsmarting the economy


It's everywhere you go to read what's happening in the U.S. - the economy and its downward spiral. It's happened before and will happen again, but what matters is it's happening now.

Friday, the federal government reported that the nation's unemployment rate increased to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent in October as another 240,000 jobs were cut, stark proof the economy is almost certainly in a recession.

A bank with more than $395 billion in consumer loans also announced on Friday it expects consumer loan defaults to increase in the remaining months of 2008.

The automotive industry continues to write red ink in its financial reports.

General Motors Corporation (GM) and Ford Motor Company both reported substantial third quarter losses. GM warned that it could run out of cash in 2009 if the U.S. economic slump continues and it doesn't get government aid, while Ford told its investors it would take aggressive actions to further cut costs as it faces a severe slump in demand.

Chrysler reportedly is running out of cash and talks of a possible break-up if it can't clinch a merger with GM or get government funding needed to ride out the economic crisis.

The stock market continues to take a bath with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down from a 52-week high of 13,850.92 on December 11, 2007 to a 52-week low of 7,773.71 about one month ago on October 10, 2008, a decline of 44 percent. Everyone talks about how much less their 401(k) plan is worth and whether they will be able to retire.

Closer to my home, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday proposed a temporary 1.5-cent sales tax increase and new levies on everything from sporting events to alcohol, as well as deep cuts in education and social services, to help close an estimated $24.2 billion state budget deficit through June 2010.

While the sliding economy has yet to directly hit my pocketbook, I'd be a fool to think it couldn't happen or fail to have an action plan to survive its blow.One good thing about being a middle-age man is that I have the perspective of history, and personal experiences of times past when the economy was in the tank. I have lessons learned about how I responded to an economic slump and the rising cost of living.

What those lessons taught me is to live a spartan life in good times and bad, and live below my means by spending less money than I make. It's a proven way to have a head start in the race to survive an economic downturn.

But if I am living a spartan life, is it possible to make more cuts if necessary if the trickle down effect of a depressed economy is greater than my spartan spread can absorb?The answer is an absolute yes - I can certainly tighten my economic belt another notch or two if needed, and I believe so can most everyone else if we think outside our comfort zone.

Because when the going gets tough, our instinct of survival will kick in and we'll all do fine outsmarting the economy.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

3 comments:

Charles Long said...

Good common sense. Thanks.

pierini said...

Charles, the sad irony of things is that there are probably people who have lost their homes to foreclosure but still have cable TV service and their daily cup of Starbucks.

Have a great weekend!

Charles Long said...

Yes, and their cigarettes and their beer and their subscription to Playboy, etc.