We’ve done everything we reasonably can to lower our cost of living – which these days seems to be the only realistic way to counterbalance inflation and declining or stagnant (or tenuous) incomes.
We moved to a less expensive area eight years ago – and paid less for the house we bought than we got for the house we sold. We own older, paid-for-in-cash vehicles, so no car payment. We do not have kids, so no expensive – and mandatory – “health care” costs associated with that. Or the extra food, clothing and so on. We eat cheap. We wear old clothes. We’ve been able to dramatically reduce our electric bill by living in an area where we only need to use the AC in the house a few days out of the year. And can heat with wood (free) that I cut/split myself.
And despite all this, we’re far from feeling secure, financially.
We still don’t have much money in the bank – and have no real choice other than to work (both of us) in order to bring in enough money to keep up with the ever-upticking price of basic commodities (food, gas) as well as to feed the always-hungry maw of Leviathan. Our property taxes have increased about 30 percent over the past eight years. Gas is double what it was eight years ago (in terms of the Fed Funny Money you need to buy a gallon of it). Food prices are also up about 30 percent. But our incomes (the amount of Fed Funny Money we bring in) haven’t increased by 30 percent. In fact, our income is down in real terms, because we’re not receiving 30 percent more Fed Funny Money. In effect, we’ve suffered a 30 percent pay cut – and that’s all else being equal. Which it isn’t. Publishing (my line of work) has become like the music business: You work a lot more for less money each year. An article I used to sell for $1,800 to a magazine now brings in $800 (if I am lucky). My wife hasn’t had a pay raise of any consequence in several years.
Where am I headed with all this? Here’s where:
We couldn’t afford to buy a new car. Sure, we could get a loan on one. But the idea of signing up for a five-year payment plan in this economy seems about as smart as going ice skating on a pond that just skinned over last night.
Who, then, is buying new cars? The two-thirds (plus) people out there who do have mortgages – and car payments. And kids on top of that? How is this possible?
Let alone sustainable?
Who is buying new homes? Allegedly, the market is “recovering.” I’m not buying it. Because I don’t see who is buying them. Maybe it is the TSA goons and other government “workers” – perhaps the only “industry” where there is “growth.” (No surprise that the DC area is one of the few areas in the country where the housing market is demonstrably recovering some ground. The “work force” consists almost entirely of people collecting a government check. And for government, it’s boom times.
But what about the rest of us – out here in fly-over country?
It seems to me that we’re balancing on the razor’s edge – and it won’t take much to push us off the wrong side. Which of course is either side. We are facing either indirect confiscation of our wealth (and so, our independence) via inflation or direct dependence and penury as a result of anything more than mere existence becoming exorbitantly expensive.
There must be some kind of way out of here, said Jimi. But I don’t know about that. It seems to me the most we can do is get ready – to the extent we can – and hope for the best.
But plan for the worst.
Throw it in the Woods?