Thursday, November 20, 2008

Putting it all in perspective

Being the first class worrier that I am (seriously, I am the best), the recent economic downturn has a little stressed. Our portfolio has lost a buttload over the past year, most of it occurring since August. The drop in oil prices has me worried about the economy of the state -- and more importantly, concerned about the stability of my husband's job. I keep thinking that this is not the time to be going on a pricey vacation to New Zealand. We should be staying at home, saving money. But the tickets are already paid for, and hey, we might as well go now before the rest of our money vanishes into the ether that surrounds the U.S. stock market.

Then I started talking to my coworker. He and another recent hire are GS-5s, which means they make about $35K per year, before taxes. The second guy is struggling to support his family of three on his meager salary (depending on where you live, $35K may not seem like a extremely low salary. But here in AK, the cost of living is pretty high). I made a comment about living at the poverty level, and then I looked at the poverty statistics. $35K isn't even close to the poverty line, not even here in AK where the poverty line is higher. Our poverty line is $22,000 for a family of 3. It just blew me away.

Here I was, bemoaning losing more in the stock market than this guy makes in a year. Crying (not literally) about how we might have to survive on my salary alone, boo hoo, while people are making less than half of what I make and still not below the poverty line.

I am so freaking spoiled, and I don't even know it. Which is the definition of spoiled, I guess. I'm going to start thinking of ways to donate time/money to charity this Christmas, and be a little more grateful for what I've got.


Anonymous said...

like the McCain advisor said, the USA is a country of whiners, and I agree. we're the richest country in the world but rich people still complain about not being able to "get by". we're spoiled rotten, and there's going to be a time when our luck/money runs out. hopefully it's not now :)


L said...

Yeah, to put it even more in perspective, my coworker would be living high on the hog in many many countries around the U.S.

I guess the good thing about deflation (or disflation, let's hope its the latter) is that it will make the cost-of-living up here a little more reasonable.

Hope your portfolio isn't taking too big a hit. :)