Monday, December 08, 2008

Dusting off blog, tapping microphone ...

Hi all. Anyone still here?

Kind of funny that a financial crisis has left me with less to say here on my personal-finance blog ... because I spent so many hours at work dealing with facets of it that I forget to step back and think about its personal-finance ramifications. (Its smallbiz ramifications, I got that covered ... )

Since I'm a writer by trade, which is one step above theatre on the Professional Instability ladder, it took about three nanoseconds after the crisis hit in September for me to start seeing its ripple effects play out in my circle of friends. Literally about half have been laid off -- and one got fired for an innocuous online comment. It's nasty out there, and since this all started, my own personal mantra has been, "Wow. It's amazing we're still both drawing good paychecks ..."

Yes, the gods do laugh and smite when you say or think things along those lines. Just as unemployment rocketed toward record numbers last week, my spouse quit his job. Welcome to life on one paycheck. (... in a gradual sense. He's not actually stopping work till the end of February.)

Life On One Paycheck has always been one of my personal nightmares, right up there with nasty diseases, devastating natural disasters and the Cowboys winning the Superbowl. So, I was not wholly thrilled with this turn of events.

On the flip side, I understand and support his reasons for quitting -- and I almost put him in the same situation about two years ago, when an issue at work arose that had me close to walking out on the spot. I remember calling him up at his office and saying, "I hate to do this, but if this doesn't get resolved I need to leave. Like, today." He was most excellent about assuring me that if I did need to go, we'd be fine (fortunately, my office resolved the issue and I got to stay employed). So, I am drawing deep breaths, running the numbers, and figuring out how to make things work on one paycheck while David starts looking for a new gig.

We're actually really lucky, as these things go. We can afford, on just my salary, to cover our rent and monthly bills, and still have a bit of wiggle room. We're not in the situation we would have been in 10 years ago of "eek! economic Armageddon! sell plasma!"

.... which makes us way luckier than most. If we're smart, this'll be a useful test. If we can get by on one paycheck, why the hell aren't we? Do I or do I not want to afford an apartment downpayment before, say, retirement?

We have two months to get ready before the paychecks actually stop coming. I suspect planning for this will motivate me to write more.