11/15/2011 8:28 PM ET|
Are you better off than 5 years ago?
Plenty has happened since 2006. MSN Money took to Facebook to ask readers if things are better or worse for them now, and to find out how they're managing in these tough times. Here are some of their comments.
Heather D.: Five years ago: Had a job and an income. Today: No job, no income.
Christina S.: Well, 5 years ago we were still working on paying down debt. We had school loans, car payments, and a nasty credit card bill (or two, or three). But we had a plan. Today, we're debt free but the house. And we had a kid in there!
Kimberly K.: 5 years ago we were living like things would continue to get better. Today, we are taking care of the debt and living like things will stay the same or get worse. Feels better this way.
Bridgette G.: My husband bought a house just before the crash of the housing market and before we met. Now we can't sell because we are upside down and my husband has lost 2 jobs in the last 5 years due to downsizing. He is now in school to hopefully get a more stable job.
Mary Lynn D.: 5 yrs ago, had savings and working on paying things off- now, lucky I have a job, but savings all gone trying to keep up and hoping I can keep paying mortgage, 2nd job- costs me more than I earn from it ... sinking with no real hope of things getting better.
Jason B.: 5yrs ago: large debts, no savings, just started a new job after being unemployed 6 months. Now: no debts, 1 yr of emergency savings, have funded my 401k & IRA heavily and hoping to take a real vacation in 2012.
Ann M.: I keep getting my hours cut each month. Last month I worked only 24 hours for the whole month of October this month Nov. I got 36. I am hanging on by a thread. I've been working almost 6 years at this place for almost 6 years. Recession has hit me hard. I am still living recession every day. Living pay check to pay check. Taking from Paul to feed Peter is a hell of a life to live I don't wish anyone to live like I do. I see no hope I the near future. Not w/ this recession going strong. God help us all.
Kurt W.: Five years ago, my wife had a company car; got a bonus that amounted to 30% of her salary (because the Portland Cement industry was booming); and had two people working under her; while I was making $56k. Today, company car was revoked (so she took an effective pay cut to buy a new one); her two people were laid off (one RIGHT after he'd been promoted to semi-independent status); her company is switching to "Consumer-Based Healthcare" this winter (so another effective pay cut of about $6k) and I make $28k (if I'm lucky). The one thing that IS better is that our mortgage rate is lower as we refinanced two years ago and may, again, real soon...
Lisa D.: i make twice the money after going to college and being in the army, but ihe prices on everything from food to housing to gas have all gone up so i am still in the same position as 5 years ago. still can't afford an apartment, still can't afford health insurance, still can't afford a new car. still living with relatives.
Nancy W.: Ive always been a stay at home mom. Husband retired from police department at 48 because we always lived within our means. We lived modestly and put all the kids thru private school. We are now quite comfortable at 55/56 yrs. old. slow and steady, knowing who we are and not feeling a need to keep up with nor impress anyone. just purchased an island home at the beach. Good things come to those who work hard, save and have some patience.
Glenda M.: 5 years ago I had 20k in debt, couldnt save a much but still spent on travel, dining, etc. now I have paid off all my debt, 2yrs of emergency funds available, quit my 7 yr old job and got a new job, get paid 35% more than I did 5 yrs ago. So financially I am better off, only real change is my spending..I spend with the " I don't know if I will be the next one laid off tomorrow and have no job" mentality. A mentality I didn't have 5 yrs ago and didn't need to consider when booking a flight, going out to dinner, or purchasing an item.
Tino O.: Spending way less, saving way more. And keeping better track of where it's all going.
Annette W.: Currently in transition, relocated for husband's job change after job loss. We are one income right now - chose to downsize house and sold new car. Love the decreased stress.
Cole B.: Funnily enough. I actually have more now than I did 5 years ago. I, like many, lost my job, repo'd a car, defaulted on loans 5 yrs ago. It was a wake up call for me. I was living beyond my means, and I wasn't saving a dime. I became very reactive. Over the years, I have rebuilt. Am buying my first home. Have worked my way up thru a new company. Funded my 401k. And have money in the bank. Only recently have I returned to making the income I had 5 yrs ago. It took a downturn for me to realize that nothing feels better than security and financial safty. I drive a Honda instead of a Cadillac. But I'm happy.
Sharon B.: Got a masters degree, had to move for my husbands job, renting the house we owned in Vegas at a $600 a month loss, I had to close my small business of managing non profits because of the move, and I am making $25k less. Expenses are up so we are just surviving. Can't find a job utilizing my MBA.
Carlo T.: I live even more within my means..... and fear losing my job more!!
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
It's a tricky thing to say things were better 40 years ago.
Back then, the middle class lived in small houses. They might have 2 bathrooms. No fancy kitchen. Few electronics, and only the telephone had recurring monthly costs. And 1 car, maybe 2.
So we can whine about companies such as WalMart, but look at what the middle class has now. Big houses. Multiple cars. Hundreds of dollars a month in entertainment like cable, cell phones, internet. So many items that we have to rent storage building for all our stuff.
In fact, I saw a study that people on welfare now have access to about as much as the middle class had in the 1950's.
A family of 4 can get $800 a month in food stamps (is it a surprise that the "poor" are obese?). Plus free education, free healthcare, free housing, and even spending money!
It's time we look at all the stuff around us and ask if it is a luxury or a necessity.
It's time to ask if we are handing out too much. I don't want starving kids, but there are lots of able bodied people getting handouts. That money comes right out of our economy. It costs us all more in taxes. It makes us less competitive with the world. When we support 1/3 of Americans, not only do that 1/3 contribute nothing, the other 2/3 is out what the support costs.
Okay, because I am TIRED of hearing everyone cry about the President. Own your own mistakes you YOU WILL BE BETTER OFF!!!!!
The simple fact is the President, this one, the last one or 30 before that, did not make you life one bit better or one bit worse. It is your own doing. The President did not make you not save money, the President did not make you spend every penny you earned, the President did not make you stick you head in the sand.
I am just as guilty, but what is the difference for me is I have owned it. I watched my sports car towed away by the bank, I stood before the man at the bankruptcy hearing. Why? Because I WAS AN IDIOT. No one came over and made me do it, I did it to my self. It was more fun owning the $80,000 car than the $25,000 car I could better afford, it was more fun buying the nicest TV than the less expensive one, it was more fun spending my money than saving it. I bought into all the BS because it was better to thing money would continue to fall from the sky than to really look at was going to happen and save. My elderly parents told me to save but I DID NOT LISTEN.
Do you know why previous generations were better off? They did not spend money they did not have. They bought houses within their means, they bought things they could afford.
The only thing that got us out of the Depression was everyone working. Full employment. People planted victory gardens if they didn't have paying jobs.
We need our retired people to watch the kids of our working families and each other. People on Welfare need to report in to local Gov't to work in order to get their benefits. They can clean streets, sort recycling, anything just as long as they don't get paid for doing nothing anymore.
Our social safety net isn't designed for people to live on. You use it in an emergency, then get off it so the next person can use it.
People around the world are OUTWORKING us. There is no magic solution to competing with that. It just takes hard work. We can't let the greatest nation in the history of the world go down without a fight.
I am a stay at home dad (at 50 years old). We are able to do this by living on one income, though we had two. We don't believe in credit card debt, so we pay our bills in full each month. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it ! We travel and enjoy just about everything we want.
We have savings, fund 401k, college fund for our child, investment properties....and we contribute at least 10% to our church as well as charities that we in which we believe.
We're lucky ? No.
"I have learned to be content wherever I find myself....."
Oh, and because I do believe in keeping up with current events........
Do you know that the net worth of the members Congress has increased by 25% since 2008 ????
'Nuff said !!!!
It took 2 years of squeezing every penny, but Today I am debt free but the house. I have 10 months of expenses sitting in the bank. I am making double payments on the house and heavily funding retirement. I am putting away money to pay cash for my next car.
I understand that you have to have a way to earn income, but once you do, quit giving the financial industry all your money. Get out of debt and stay there! Put some money in savings. Take charge of your life. 3 years ago people told me i was crazy and that people NEED credit to buy cars. I disagree. The financial industry had gotten rich on making everyone think that we NEED them for everything. Its actually the opposite.
Things started going downhill fast about 2 1/2 – 3 years ago. The unemployment rate surged from 7.7% in January 2009 to over 10% and it has been elevated ever since. The unemployment rate has average 9.4% since Obama has been in office even though he inherited a 7.7% unemployment rate.
We’ve lost over three million jobs since January 2009, 2.5 million of those losses have come after the political payoff called a stimulus package was passed.
Health insurance premiums are soaring and folks are losing insurance because companies can no longer afford to provide it.
The way it looks right now things are only going to get worse. This will not change until the economy creates jobs and right now that is not happening.
I make less. My husband makes less. We pay more for health insurance. Our house is worth half what we paid for it 5 years ago and we can't refinance because we're so far under water (and we can't use the Obama refinancing plan because the mortgage isn't Freddie/Fannie). Gas is more expensive. Groceries are more expensive. We no longer take vacations, we dropped cable and we don't shop for many unnecessary items. We just work and hope we still have jobs at the end of the day.
This is the life when you have an advanced degree.
In really thinking about it, I may not be better off from a material aspect, but I am better off.
Five years ago I owned a company which my shares had a value of over 3 Million. That company crashed with the Real Estate market and so did the money. I have since opened another business and make MUCH less money (perhaps one day I will make the same amount) but I employ 30 people (Who would not likely have jobs if not for our company) and I like to think my company makes their lives better.
I learned a TON from the crash, about business, about myself and about people. Being rich seems less important but being smart with the money I have seems more important. Gone are the days of expensive cars and eating out every night and now are the days of owning a inexpensive truck and eating home most nights. Gone are a ton of people I thought were "Friends".
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