Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Real Downer

In advance, I want to apologize for this post.  I am, by nature, a pessimist and this is more of a 'downer' post than I really want it to be.  But, this blog is my way to vent and journal, so, you are warned.

Before and just after every election--presidential, mostly--I find myself fearing for this country.  It doesn't matter who is elected, it always is the fear of the unknown--even if the guy is RE-elected.  This last election scared me more than most--and it seems as if my fears were NOT unfounded.  But, this ISN'T a gripe session about Barack--even though I dislike him even more than I did before he was elected POTUS.  This is a gripe session and I have no idea WHO to aim it at--everyone in power seems to be at fault these days and with the crop of 'wannabes' that are trying to get into office next year, I am not optimistic that things will be any better in the next few years.  For the most part, before this last presidential election, we were able to live our lives--and this is personally, not necessarily as a nation--pretty much in a 'business as usual' manner, no matter WHO was POTUS.  Things have certainly changed in the last couple of years.

So, personally, the big changes in OUR lives are health care and retirement.  With the state of the economy, K's retirement account is nowhere near what it was a few years ago--and this is with him adding to it with every paycheck.  He has always talked about working for a few more years, but there always was the possibility of him just saying 'the hell with it' and coming home one day and say he's done.  No, we wouldn't probably be able to live quite in the manner we have become accustomed to, but we would have done okay.  Because of the way things are, he will HAVE to work at LEAST two more years, like it or not.

Right now, I haven't seen any huge changes in our health care, but we also haven't needed anything more than routine doctor visits or medications.  However, it certainly seems as if there ARE big-time changes for those who have retired from the company.  And that will be a (possible) disaster for me.  I really don't think that my Enbrel will/would be covered under retirement benefits--and that scares me so much.  Before the Enbrel, my psoriasis covered MUCH more than 10% of my body--I had it on my back, trunk, knees, elbows, scalp, fingernails, buttocks--and now I am ALMOST symptom-free.  (Actually, I have some problems with my fingernails and a couple of smallish spots on my elbows and knees--and that's it.)  After going off of a biologic medication, many people experience a resurgence of their psoriasis that is MUCH worse than anything they experienced prior to using the meds.  Of course, this doesn't mean that EVERYONE has this happen, but I worry, nonetheless.

Another major worry I have for K and me is housing.  Before this economic downturn, we had every intention to build a new house.  As of right now, we can't see any way that could be possible.  This leaves us with an old, old house with major problems--problems that we will NOT be able to deal with as we get older.  So, we have to have things fixed--new siding, new windows, new roof, electrical, plumbing, etc.  And those are just the things that HAVE to get done--we would LIKE to do something about the basement, but THAT is not an all-year problem, so it is way down the list of things needed.  As we get older, a garage would be nice to have, but we've been without one THIS long, so we have to set priorities.  Right now, we're just happy to have a roof over our heads--for as long as that roof STAYS over our heads and doesn't fall down.  ;)

And all of my concerns for K and me pale in comparison to how I'm feeling about the future for our girls and their families.

The Youngest and her husband both work.  They don't work at the lowest paying jobs, but they certainly aren't even in the middle-middle class, either.  At the best, they are in the lower-middle class, but I don't know if they are doing that well.  And they are barely keeping up, much less getting ahead.  Every time things look like they are getting better, something else happens.  Right now, they are facing the probability of having to get a new vehicle.  In all actuality, they should be looking for a SECOND vehicle--they both work and their work sites are in completely different directions--as it would be much easier for each to have their own.  But, that won't happen any time soon.  They want to adopt a child, but THAT is equivalent to BUYING a baby and the money just isn't there.  Both of them still have student loans to finish paying off, so they can't really think about trying to get a house or new place to live.  (Frankly, I think they are overpaying for the place they are living right now, but that is just an opinion.)  Still, they MIGHT be staying even, or not falling back too much.  At least, I hope so.

And so, we get to The Oldest and her family.  I know a lot of people don't have much sympathy for her and her husband--after all, they did nothing to permanently prevent having 7 kids--but the size of their family is a moot point.  They have to take care of the family, no matter HOW big or small it is.  And they just are not making it.  Up to a couple of months ago, things weren't SO bad for them.  Okay, they weren't making much--if any--progress toward getting ahead, but they aren't even breaking even these days.  And I can't see any possible way for them to cut costs any further than they already have.  She makes all of her own laundry detergent and cleaning products that she can.  She never buys 'brand-name' ANYTHING and makes everything she can from scratch.  They have no cable and just went to 'basic phone' with their landline.  Other than underwear and socks, I don't know the last time she bought any brand new article of clothing for any of the kids--unless it cost less than $5 on sale.  While I admire her ingenuity, it can't be easy to do all she does while trying to raise 7 kids AND homeschool at the same time.  Plus, she does a couple of part-time jobs to bring in a little extra money--just so they can have the NECESSITIES, NOT the WANTS.  And I worry.

My first thought for people who are under-employed is 'just go somewhere that jobs ARE available'--and I know a lot of people feel this way.  This would be a solution for someone who is single--after all, there would be a lot of travel involved and that means money to travel to job interviews and looking at places to live, etc.  NOT something that is readily available for either family.  To go somewhere else for a job, they would have to have one GUARANTEED for them.  AND moving expenses would be a great bonus.  Neither family can just up and move on a whim--there is no money for them to do so.  At this point, our girls are 'stuck' where they are.

At this point in time, K and I are discussing what we can do for the girls.  The only solution we can come up with is to send them money.  As K said, "It's either THAT or have them move into our house."--and that isn't a solution at all.  But, this also means that his retirement is probably further off than even HE imagines it is.  While I want to feel sorry for myself, I do have to be thankful that we have enough where we are able to help the girls--little as it is.  {sigh}


leazwell said...

It's a horror what is going on and it doesn't have to be this way.I cannot conceive the moronic state of mind of the people who run this country. I don't see a bright light or even a dim one on the horizon signaling any person capable of making positive changes here. God help us.

ordinaryjanet said...

I admire your daughter for doing what she can to economize, and I'm sure things will turn out OK in the end. It might be hard to watch, though. I have to believe things will get better in spite of what I read on the Internet and newspaper.

meleah rebeccah said...

I know things are really scary right now. And I feel rather powerless. However, I have to hold onto some kind of hope [even if I am being delusional] that things in this country WILL get better. I mean, they just have to.

I can TOTALLY relate to you worrying about the medications you need. My new "prescription" plan [Medicare Part D] did NOT cover my Epi-Pens. And that set me back MUCHO dollars.

cmk said...

Even though I AM a horrible pessimist, there usually is a small place in the recesses of my heart that believes things are not quite as bad as they seem. I'm finding it very hard to find that spot these days. Although, I'm not quite as depressed as I was when I wrote this.

We all hope that our children will be better off then we are--and will even accept them doing just as well as we do. Right now, both of our girls are at the place where K and I were when we first were married--the first months when we were in the Navy, poor as poor can be--and I don't know when they will move forward. While we will do all that we can for them, I just never expected to face the possibility of helping support 11 more people at this stage of our lives. {sigh}

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