Friday, January 13, 2012

Are We Ready to Step Up?



Something has been weighing heavy on my heart. Last week something happened that just shook me. It started with my two older girls. We always try to eat dinner together meaning if you are in the house at dinner time you eat dinner at the table. Our time to all come together and share. Well, what the girls began to share has really made me think. In the space of four days, the girls told four different stories of families and friends they know who have had to move in with others or face homelessness or to prevent someone they know from losing the roof over their head. Inability to cover one's mortgage and renting out rooms to another family, a friend moving in with an uncle who no longer can afford his rent, a girl having to share a room with a family member and her baby after they lost their home. I don't want to be too specific but I am sure you get the idea.

I hear of the economy supposedly starting to rebound but it is surely not happening fast enough. I personally believe we are seeing families face what many of us have not seen in our lifetime. I know my grandparents faced situations very similar in the depression because I heard the stories. I have also read the unemployment rate is much higher than reported. Those no longer looking or under employed are not represented. How about those that take a new job but no longer make what they were making before. My own brother is facing this situation. It is simply devastating. I worry for him and for other family members affected by this recession.

It is more than just doing without little things like less dinners out, maybe you don't take a vacation. It is now whether you can keep a roof over your head, your utilities on and just put enough food on the table. I have some of my own family members facing tough decisions like this. I have received several e-mails through my blog of others facing situations similar or having to help someone. I don't remember a time like this that I can recall. Everything is so expensive. It is so costly to maintain just a vehicle, let alone a home and care of a family. When wages are dropping and inflation is rising it is a recipe for disaster.

So what I am trying to ask here is are we all ready to accept a change in the way we live? Multiple families having to share a home, helping others get enough to eat? I am dealing with these questions for myself. What can I do to help? How much can I help? Have I helped enough? I hope this is temporary and I apologize if I sound depressing but while we all show our lovely homes and little pretties I just felt the need to share this burden on my heart. Do you feel the same about the way our lives may be changing? Have you seen what I am seeing here. Maybe it is just our part of the country. I will be back to my normal posts next time but for now I felt compelled to share. Thanks for listening. Please let me know what you think.

31 comments:

Debby said...

I so agree. When realtors say the market is improving and things are selling......I wonder how many more are homeless. It does really bother me. I know many tht are struggling. Our income was cut by 60% about 8 years ago. Then now it is still what it was 8 years ago. We struggle. I have friends that even struggle more. Actually almost all our friends are having a rough time. We are all getting close to retirement and very worried.

Cozy Little House said...

I'm glad you brought up this important topic. At a time when some are engrossed in what color to paint a piece of furniture, others are grappling with a roof over their head. My daughter is a realtor, and hasn't sold a house in months. Which puts her family in financial difficulties. And it says houses are just not moving. There is an adorable house just across the way from me. And yet it sits empty, completely remodeled, $140,000. Hard to imagine that it hasn't been sold. Every time I pass it, I feel sorry for its empty walls and all the people that need a home.
Brenda

Kim said...

It's definitely scary. I'm not ashamed to admit that there have been times when we weren't sure if our water or our electric was going to get shut off. We don't live outside of our means, but there are certainly things that we could live without that we don't. So much of it is just living responsibly. These times make it so easy to pay extra for conveniences, most of which we don't even need. It's a new year and that makes it a good time for all of us to look in the mirror and make a change. Thanks for the wake-up call Elaine.
xoxo,
Kim

Lori Lynn said...

I was in that spot about a year ago. With the help of relatives and, believe it or not, kind blog friends, we averted the worse disaster, kept our lights on and food on the table. It was the worst time of my life, and I felt utterly hopeless. Things are better now...just barely. So I know EXACTLY of which you speak.

Lori Lynn

Sandy said...

My husband was out of work for 10 months, and I thought we would lose it all....but by the grace of God we didn't. I am thankful every day for this roof over my head and the food in my fridge. We are down to one car, and I thnk God for it...one is better then none. The USA is in trouble and if we don't start at the top in Washington and make some MAJOR chancges, we are all going to suffer untold problems. It is very hard to stop this kkind of problem once it gets going.....I try really hard to not watch the news or paper...I just can't dela with all of the negativity.....I help who I can when I can....and if we all could do that, it would start to seem better, I am sure....
Thanks for this post, as bad and sad as it is, it is our reality in America right now. We all need to get our heads out of the sand!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Yes, I see it all around us. We have several neighbors that have lost their homes and forced to move in with family. I am sure there are many more that are also about to lose their homes and worry about the utilities. I am determined to try and cut back as much as possible this year and make sure we have a stronger footing under us. Retirement and fixed incomes don't allow for a lot of ups and downs. We just need to help everyone we can, when we can. Hugs, Marty

Vintage Gal said...

I see this happening time and again. Unfortunately, Mr. Vintage and I received Chessie under those terrible circumstances. You see, Chessie's parents lost their home, lost their jobs and could not keep chessie and that is how we found him at the Humane Society. We have friends who are going through troubles and we invite them for dinner as much as we can. We aren't in great shape right now and most houses around here are selling way below market value of about 3 years ago. We are putting our house on the market as we want to down size and be a little more comfortable in our retirement years. Besides, we don't need a 4 bedroom house.
I think we all help any way that we can, donate to Salvation Army, homeless shelters etc.,
It is very sad but very true. We can also help by sending up prayers

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life said...

I think for a lot of us it takes so much just to cover the basics. Of course we could turn off our cable but boy we are home all the time trying not to go out so thankfully we can still have some of the little pleasures.

Tracy said...

Sadly, it is the way things are in our current economic climate. We struggle, that's why my husband deployed....so we could get caught up and hopefully pay off a few of our debts.

Gen said...

Thanks for sharing your heart! I have also been feeling really sad for a fellow blogger who just lost their lovely cottage home. I felt so sad for them. My daughter and husband in NY struggle financially, but are doing okay. We try to be frugal and go without things to be able to send them extra blessings each month. They are so appreciative! It is a joy to be able to that!

Kris said...

Elaine, it is a very scary time for sure! We have had close friends of ours go through this, and even lose their home. It is devastating, and scary to say the least. I think just about everyone knows someone who has been really hurt by this hard economy. I find myself asking the same questions you are. How to help? How much to help? It is tough!! It is good you shared this.
Hugs,
Kris

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

I think your post is spot on. The regime wants things to get this bad. I am not trying to be cute of funny when I say this, but one of the pillars of communism is government ownership of property and people renting from the government. It is happening. Right now. In this country.

Either we can vote leaders into office (especially in the Senate...they are the ones in charge of the budget) who will institute change (not hope and change that has bankrupted our country) or we will all lose or way of life, our standard of living, and our free market system. It is serious, and it is affecting us all to one degree or another.

There are three families on my street facing foreclosure. Three out of about 24 - 25 homes.

Thanks for your post. It does seem a little crass to write about vacations and remodeling a room in my home when so many people are losing their homes. I was going to write a long post about our recent vacation, but I have decided not to do it now.

You have a tender heart, and I appreciate you so much. I think your daughters have learned from your example. I know they are hurting for these families.

Betsy said...

I'm glad you wrote about this, Elaine. It is a real problem for so many people these days. My husband was out of work for 4 months several years ago, and I will never, ever take what we have for granted again. Times are just different, and it's hard to ever feel completely secure. Like you, I wonder how I can do more for others who are still struggling. It's good for all of us to think about these things.

Susan B said...

Your post is right. This is a problem for so many. My brother has worried for the past year about losing his job, but thankfully has been able to keep it every time a cut has been made. It is scary for so many peole, and I'm not sure when things will start to turn around. It is a reality that we don't like to think about.

Olive Cooper said...

We have less foreclosures here near our yellow house as the large medical community helps keep employment more steady but there are pockets of need everywhere. We are part of a local church that is very hands on here and has adopted two neighborhoods. We tutor kids and teach English lessons and do much more and are in no way pushy about faith. We believe the local church is the hand of God in our world. Because I worked for the Department of Corrections I have seen every terrible scenario of loss possible I think. Loss of life, loss of marriages, loss of children, loss of freedom, loss of sanity, and after a while you nearly have to become numb to it or you cannot do your job. The world has always had this much hurt in it, America is just catching up to the suffering I am afraid.

acorn hollow said...

I think that the family farm was helpful in the early depression. I know my grandparents provided for a lot of the family at that time. As far as what you can do to help if you can donate to a food pantry my daughter is doing super couponing to donate to that. I am not sure there is much else short of paying their rent.
it is a very hard time. Make your vote count
Cathy

Carey's Farmhouse Kitchen said...

No, I think you are right. We are seeing more of this. We are blessed here at my house but my husband had to look for a long time for his job. He's a Veteran, with a duel major Degree and couldn't find anything. He began teaching part-time and then did construction. It really upset me that after 22 years of service he was putting in 12 hour days and getting ten dollars an hour to keep us going. I am working too. He did what he had to do. I blame this on our gov't partly. The worst part is I'm not sure the damage can be reversed. We all need to pray that things change. I think that is all we can do and take care of our families. Give when we can and are able to.

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

Elaine,
Thanks for this post. I, too, am so concerned about our country. My husband lost his job about 4 years ago. We had to make some drastic changes in our lives. We sold our very nice home, sold the Mercedes and the Volvo, bought some used cars, and moved to our little cottage. But out of this turmoil, our lives have been blessed so much. We live very simply and are happier than ever. My heart bleeds for those who are facing foreclosure and are experiencing hard times. We were lucky, but so many are not. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention so that we can help those who are not as fortunate as ourselves.

Michelle said...

We just went thru a lay off here. My husband just found out it won't affect him this week. At my job, we are waiting to see if our doors will be closed or stay open.

Tania @ Out Back said...

Looks like worrying times ahead for many...The need to get back to simple living is more prevalent than ever. Australia may be better off than other countries, but not immune. I have heard of many job layoffs and there are big companies looking at closing down, if the government cant bail them out, meaning losses of thousands of jobs :(

There are lots of mines opening up all over Australia so hopefully there will be new jobs created...

We are not in any debt and my husband's job is secure at this stage, but you never know what is around that next corner.

Ginger Zuck said...

Elaine, thanks for posting your feelings about this and for your daughters who are honest and feelings to share this info with you. Most young folks wouldn't. I see and hear about it everyday and my heart breaks. That is one reason I don't want to be frivlous any longer. I don't do much, but I still feel guilty.

Buttercup said...

I don't think you're being depressing, just being real. I have been very lucky with my job, but we've gone through -- and are still going through -- very tough times at work. Lay offs in the last few years and no raises and none to come for years. Four years ago was very different.

Kathy K. said...

O p.lease, write about your vacation. Those of us in dire finacial straits look to other's blog to cheer us up and give us hope. looking at other's homes and pretties help us to face the threats in our own lives.

Debbie said...

I saw that you had an update to this, but since I've been out of town and am so behind, I hadn't read this one yet. So, I skipped here first.

I don't think YOU'RE depressing, but I do think that IT is. I agree with you completely about the supposed rebound. On top of the statistics you mentioned, the new "rebound" numbers also include unpaid internships. As a stay home mom with a husband in sales, I have always kept a finger on the pulse of the economy. We saw this coming long before many others did. I remember my father (who died over ten years ago) warning of a housing bubble that simply HAD to burst because it was so inflated. He was always astute about financial matters, and he was about that too. He preached "live within your means" like a financial gospel. In 2008, my husband's job was eliminated and we rode that first wave of unemployment. We know the reality. We were grateful not to have a ton of debt.

It made us stronger.

I wouldn't have picked it, but it did.

I shudder for a nation who still, after years of this recession, just doesn't seem to "get it". When money is gone, it's gone.

One good thing, though, is that your daughters know of families doing what families are supposed to do. They are pulling together and taking care of each other. IMO, that's the missing link for so many. They don't want to take care of their own.

curlyrose49 said...

I think this is a real problem we have had to face. I know my son is the only working person in his family of 4 at home. His wife has 4 children 2 are out of the home but he still worries about them. He takes on extra jobs to help with their income but I worry about how he can keep up! My husband and I retired without really saving for the future thinking we would always be young! I hate to see the hardships our children have -are going thru but I hope that they will make it and that we can go on. I worry everyday when I hear that people are left Homeless and have no place to turn! There must be something that can be done. We also have a big problem with Homeless Veterans,not right!

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life said...

I agree our Veterans should never know homelessness.

Ms. Redo said...

My family is very fortunate to have no debt. Even so, we have struggled this past year (because of horrific medical bills) to pay bills at times. That's why I decided 2012 was going to be the year of "Serious Saving" for us.

Because of blogging, I have learned something I never knew in 58 years: you can stay at home, not spend money, and still have a beautiful home that you decorate joyfully. Through blogging I've learned to make beautiful things through sewing, crafting, re-arranging, "shopping the house," and (unbelievable for me) cooking from scratch. Before blogging, I thought that I had to go to stores and buy new things constantly ... now blogging, I am finding so much joy at home, spending nearly no money, and sharing the beauty we create (on a dime as one blogger says:) with one another. Meanwhile, I am (again unbelievable for me) finding great joy is line drying our clothes, hand washing our dishes, and keeping the thermostat on 63 (if you stay upstairs with all bedroom/office doors closed, it's quite comfortable).

I am focusing on learning more about cooking from scratch and meatless meals. Instead of seeing this as a burden, I am finding great joy in it ... because I have blogging friends who are doing the same and making a game of it.

One part of our serious saving is so that we not only have enough to pay our own bills but so that we can also help others. There are opportunities everywhere to do that, one no longer has to look far.

I believe our problems are way deeper than Washington, that perhaps Washington is merely a reflection of what each of us had become before this "depression" began. Now, it's up to us as individuals to help one another. And yes, vote in some new blood, if there is anyone out there who can get it right. As someone above stated, I now stay away from the news because it's too frightening. I can only deal with what's going on here within a 30-mile radius of our home.

Thanks for sharing, Elaine, and opening up this important subject that concerns all of us.

Hugs ~ Mary

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

A great thought provoking post. I was in a grocery store yesterday and saw a lot of workers walking out the door. Come to find out, they are closing the doors for business and I witnessed first hand all of those employees being laid off. There was such a sadness in the air. It was so different seeing it as opposed to watching it on the news. Real people, real crisis. I pray we have better days ahead.

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Well said. My husband is on the verge of losing his family business and my heart just goes out to him. I keep wondering what is he going to do? he knows nothing else. We will be ok thank God, but it makes me understand all to well how you could lose your home. It has added a burden and a horrible feeling in my gut that I am not use to. I just try to appreciate the small things and be ever so grateful for what I have and not worry about what I don't have.
thanks...

Susanne said...

It is hard to comment on a post like this without stepping on some toes. I realize that there are those people who fit into this category of homeless and jobless by no fault of their own. We live in a troubled time of uncertain futures. There is always a flip side to every coin, there are also 3 sides to a story as well, your side, their side and then of course the truth (I have been reminded of that by my oldest daughter who is a social worker). But what I am getting at is that when jobs move to another country because of corporate greed there is something we CAN DO about it and that is to NOT BUY THE PRODUCTS THEY SEND BACK TO US TO SELL IN OUR STORES. Another point is that so many people out there had to live in houses they could not afford anyways (and banks enabled them to do that because of their greed)and I know that for a fact because in a nearby community there is a sun-division of gorgeous homes that people appear to be living in but the houses are virtually empty because they can't afford to furnish them, yet they can't be without their fancy parties (which they cannot afford any more than the man in the moon), so they RENT furniture for the occasion and then return it once the party is over. Now does that make any sense at all? They go on vacations they can't afford 2 or times more a year, another thing that makes no sense to me. And that is just the visible stuff they do, evidently their homes did not mean enough to them to cut out trying to keep up with the Jones's. We all know families like that. Others struggle to feed, clothe and keep a roof over their heads while others spend money they don't have to keep up appearances. I can remember in 1974 my husband was laid off from his job. I was a homemaker and didn't work. To cut down on expenses we shut off our entire upstairs of our home to cut the heat bill. We stopped buying all the things that were unnecessary like i.e. pop, we drank Kool-Aid, there were many more cuts. We scrimped and there was nothing to save. We have been married 41+ years and have taken maybe 3 actual pack your bag vacations. I still have clothes in my closet from over 30 years ago. later we bought a acre of land and built a basement and lived in that almost 8 years. I went to nursing school when I was 32 yrs. old because I knew if I wanted to move out of the basement we lived in I would only get my house if I had a job. We built our own home with the help of a carpenter who came a couple of times a week to help with what we couldn't do ourselves. I learned to drive nails and hang insulation, paint and wallpaper walls. And maybe the biggest point I want to make is that we were married by a Justice of the Peace and there was no $20,000+ wedding, yet our marriage has survived. We put 2 kids though college on a laborer's paycheck and my part-time nursing wages. Both kids took 5 years. We paid our bills and had a 20 year mortgage because to build our house we had to borrow money. We are retired now, but before my husband retired he made sure the house and vehicles were all paid for. There was no large debt to worry over. We don't live in a huge fancy house, we have 3 bedrooms, with an eat-in kitchen, living room and one bathroom and we manage to be happy. For the past 35 years we have planted a garden and I can and freeze the veggies, that helps cut down on grocery bills, and besides I know what went into that canning jar, and there have never been any recalls. We have our troubles like everyone and a little over a year ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer. My heart does go out to those people who are struggling. I wish I had a magic wand and could wave it so their troubles go away, but t takes a lot for me to feel bad for those who lived above their means and who our tax dollars support.

❁Velma ~Down Our Country Road❁ said...

Hi Elaine,
Yes, times are hard for many. My son and son-in-law both are self employed and are having difficult times trying to find work. My son especially. He and his wife (she is self employed as well) have gone through all of their savings and are taking from their retirement. He is now looking for a'regular' job for the security of a paycheck and for the health insurance.
At Christmas, instead of giving them gifts, we sent them home with meat. Several grocery bags full of meat. They were thrilled beyond belief as it is much more expensive where they live. Thankfully, no one has had to sell a home and move in with mom and dad yet. We continually pray for them that they get through these tough times.

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