Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tales From the Trenches

Time out for a reality check. Yes, I'm optimistic about this president. Yes, I believe he will do all he can in tough times. And yes, I have my doubts that things are going to get better for most of us anytime soon.

I am anxiously watching every bit of news pertaining to banks' willingness to renegotiate mortgages with people who are hanging on to their homes by their teeth. I am one of them. So far, my bank can't do anything for me - I haven't missed a payment, I have a decent interest rate. No one could predict that the economy would tank and money we budgeted for has not materialized.

I am sorely tempted to stop paying. My daily stress would drop instantly, I'd have money for other bills (and no, I don't have tremendous debt besides the mortgage - that's the one that's killing me), and my bank would perhaps be willing to work with me if I was in default. Of course, I could also lose my home and everything I've invested in it. Catch 22.

I know a retired person who has lost his life savings - a substantial sum. He paid off his home, and now is looking at a reverse mortgage so he could have money for necessary expenses. He doesn't want to do it - he wanted to leave his family a home when he is gone.

I know a man who would sell a car to get some ready cash - no one will buy it. No one CAN buy it.

I know a man whose finances are in good order - but he's scared to death that his many years of service at one company makes him a target for a cost-cutting layoff. He makes more than others with less experience.

I know a family that's quietly paid the taxes on a less fortunate relative's home for years. And now they're wondering how long they'll continue to do it. What happens when those relatives have to move? Where will they go?

These are troubling times. There are thousands of other stories - millions of them. And there are going to be more. It's not an American depression - it's a global depression. And it's hard to see how long it will last and what will start to pull us out of it.

The only thing I'm certain of is that we will have to all be pulling together.

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