it's the economy, stupid

It seems I'm stuck at the computer now. Anya is suffering from a cold and fell asleep on my lap, which means if I put her down she'll snort and fuss, and since Daniel is also napping (a rarity these days, but her complaining woke him up at 5:30 this morning), I think I finally have the opportunity for a blog post.

We have a meeting this Friday with our financial planner. Yeah, I know. I feel like a fraud every time we see this guy. It feels too grown up for me, since I have never had a job that got me a decent amount of income or respect. I mean, I'm not the one earning the money with which we have to plan. I hate sitting in meetings talking about income when I am not responsible for contributing to ours.But after Anya was born, we realized we had 16 years until Daniel starts college, so we figured we better start saving for that. Then when we met this dude for the first time, he made us get life insurance and talked about retirement investments blah blah blah. It makes my head spin, all of it. If there's one subject I can't wrap my head around, it's finance and economics.

Unfortunately, it seems that's the case for, oh, all the bigwigs in charge of everyone's money and mortgages because the way things are going, every major bank is going to fail in the next year or so. I think there are few people on this planet who truly understand how the economy works (free market zealots don't count) and fewer who have an inkling how to fix it. Hence the pickle we're in.

I don't even really know what this meeting is about. I just know that it's at 11 in the morning and thank goodness our sitter (whom Daniel loves and Anya screams at) can come or we'd have two bored, squirmy children in that little room. The thing about financial planners is that they all feed you the same line: invest as much as you can and wait several years and you'll be fine. The stock market will always bounce back eventually. That's been true for a while, and I suppose we could assume that will be true for us a few decades from now. Like I said, I don't really understand this stuff. But the way things are going, Stu and I are beginning to think we're better off investing in a plot of land on which we can grow food and raise chickens so that we can sustain ourselves when the rest of the free-market world falls to pieces around us.

I know that sounds radical. And we're SO not ready to be homesteaders. I shudder to think what would happen if I were suddenly responsible for all of our vegetables; I've got a couple of healthy-looking chard plants out back, and a rogue vine growing out of the compost pile yielded a squash the size of my big toe, but other than a few basil plants about to keel over, that's my harvest for the season. Not that I tried that hard. Obviously.

Maybe this economic crisis will blow over. Maybe Barack Obama can help set things straight after his inauguration in a few months (I remain eternally hopeful). Or maybe the world's been headed this direction for a good long time and it's just now that everything is crashing down around us. I don't know. But I think we should be prepared either way.


Pam said…
re: "Stu and I are beginning to think we're better off investing in a plot of that we can sustain ourselves when the rest of the free-market world falls to pieces around us... I know that sounds radical."

That does NOT sound radical. It sounds smart. Very, very smart.
Steph said…
Hey, if it comes to that, you know our family has land. I keep meaning to respond to Stu's e-mail about this. If we end up having to form a back-to-the-land commune outside of Moundridge, KS, well, I suppose there are worst ways to cope with economic crisis.

Just let me get through grad school first. God, please.
Strangeite said…
Now is the perfect time for you to be investing in the stock market. You are young and have many years until retirement. The market has lost over 15% of its value within the last two weeks and almost 30% of its value since January 1. So each $1 you invest today has a much greater chance of turning a larger profit years down the road. Research your investments and don't rely solely on the advise of your financial planner. It is possible to minimize your losses in this mess, it just requires discipline and study. Last quarter was the very first time our investments didn't return a profit.

As for the complete collapse of the western economy, I don't think it is likely, but I do think it is possible. That is why I invest in the market, but also invest in a basement full of non-perishable food items bought when they are on sale. Have the conversation with like-minded individuals about pooling resources. Obviously we want to hope for the best, but make sure you have thought about and planned for the worst. My friends have made fun of me for years, thinking that I am a paranoid kook (which I probably am) but they don't mock as much in the last six months.

BTW, I will probably be the canary in the coal mine if everything starts to go to hell. I handle commercial real estate loan transactions for large national banks in the seven digit and up range. I will be one of the first to line up at the unemployment office. The banking executives I talk to are worried and things are VERY weird; but, it has not completely shut down. Yet.

Oh well, I have rambled enough, it is just this post hit several of my buttons.
Strangeite said…
Oh yeah. I wrote about the imploding of the economy back in July and steps you can take to help cushion the shock.

If you are interested, here is the link.
Mrs. Allroro said…
Oh, Suze, you make me laugh. Big toe. Ha ha.
Suze said…
Mrs. Alloro, I don't even think the squash was as big as my big toe. Maybe just my thumb :)
The only good thing about the economy right now is that I bought gas yesterday for $2.89/gallon - and the prices here are continuing to fall. Everything else sucks!
Becca said…
I know Roy has an excellent point about this being to best time invest. I keep trying to remember that, despite the fact that my retirement account has lost 22% of its value in the last month.

I'll keep telling myself that when I increase my investment amount.

And I don't think you're offbase about buying land. My DH was saying the other day that we should get our passports in order, get bottled water, non-perishable food, and camping gear. Scary thought, but not necessarily crazy.
Mrs. Allroro said…
I was worried about my dad, whose 401 K (or 401 ok as my husband calls it) is his entire retirement. I asked him last night if he was anxious, and he said, no, he still owns the same number of shares and is still putting the same amount in every month and is buying that stock a lot cheaper now. He's just hoping the stock goes back up in the next four years. It has decreased in value by a third. I said that would make me take all my money out. He said heck no, because it's still in there, he's not losing by keeping it there--he'd be losing by taking it out. I'd say he's looking on the bright side. I'm glad to know it.

And Suze, I hope your thumb is only bigger than your big toe in length and not in circumference. Well, I think my big toes might be bigger around most people's. Are yours skinny big toes?

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