I’m the only one in my family in a financial pickle…weird

As we head into a depression, I spent the weekend pondering the financial state of my mother, brother and sisters to see how all of this is affecting them and could affect them in the near future. The good news: I’m in the weakest position. The bad news: I’m in the weakest position. Here’s how each of us is set to weather this storm…

She works in a high school library and, since going bankrupt 5 years ago, has been doing a great job of living within and even a little below her means. Although she’s at the top of the pay scale, she had made herself “recession-proof” over the years by doing the most important and unpleasant (funny how those go hand-in-hand) pieces of other people’s jobs and is 100% sure that the first to go will be her co-worker who does an hour of work a day and qualified for retirement 10 years ago. Her rent hasn’t increased since she moved in 9 years ago and probably won’t, she picks up extra money from doing the books for my old chiropractor and supervising the SATs a few times a year, her health is good and she has great benefits — yup, she’s pretty well taken care of.

Brother “Six Figures”
He’s being groomed to become the CEO of a small pharmaceutical company in about 5 years – they don’t do R&D, but they support the R&D of the biggies. There’ve been no rumblings of financial problems in the company, and he’s high up enough to be included in such discussions. He’s got a good credit score, only a car lease for debt, sucks at saving, and is on the verge of buying his first home. The only hitch I see in all this is if pharmaceutical companies stop developing new drugs. I suspect the likelihood of that is fairly low, but not completely out of the question depending on how bad things get.

Sister “Bridezilla”
She just graduated on Saturday with a BS in Nursing, and will be sitting the RN licensing exam in about 8 weeks. In the meantime, she’s picking up shifts at a restaurant she has worked at on and off for 10 years and is doing just fine with that – she lives in Aspen, and the height of the ski season is upon them. As a playground of the rich and famous, you’d think it would take a hit, but apparently not yet. Perhaps that strata of society is in denial, or perhaps they’re cutting out more expensive destinations, I don’t know, but she just needs it to get through a few months. Her concerns over the local job market are pretty minor overall – she’ll be able to get a job, just maybe not in the setting she’s had her heart set on for years. Bridezilla’s fiance is employed as an electrician, I think by the municipality, and seems pretty stable. They live in a fixed-price, fixed-appreciation home (like rent control, but he owns) and will be trying to upgrade to a larger place more suitable for a family. He practices an unusual kind of frugality, which is sometimes better labelled “cheapskate”…I’ll know more after I meet him next week. Conclusion: Bridezilla will be just fine, and should anything happen, she’s got a husband-to-be as a hedge.

Sister “Starfish”
I’m not entirely happy that she left her job in a doctor’s office 6 weeks ago, but since her weight and alcohol consumption are down, it was a good move on a non-financial level. She is also picking up waitressing shifts at the same restaurant where Bridezilla works and will be taking a couple of nursing pre-requisites at the local community college come January. She lives with her bartender boyfriend whose only bad quality is his lack of ambition (he’s otherwise a terrific guy), and they’re in a rent-controlled apartment. As long as the Aspen economy doesn’t tank by more than 30%, they’ll be fine.

Me, The KTM
I’ve already been hit, hard and swift. My income is down 40% and getting worse, hence the move either to a cheaper apartment or a cheaper country in about 15 weeks. Why is this “good news”? Because if one of us has to bear the initial brunt of the economic storm, I’m in the best position. I’m single with no prospects, I love travelling/living abroad, I have some savings, and I have never really felt like I fit in very well in this city or even this country (but I haven’t been to every state, so I’m open-minded on that). Six Figure’s first suggestion was to move to DC, because it’s a more stable client base – the federal government will change colors (that’s a red/blue comment, not a black/white one!), but it won’t shrink. Hm, maybe my brother is more astute than I thought. Bridezilla gave me a pep talk about how I was smart, creative and extraordinarily resilient, then mentioned I could move out to Colorado and teach English to immigrants through a connection of hers…not sure if that’s a real option, but I’m open to it. Mom just doesn’t want me moving abroad for years again, which isn’t something I can promise. Starfish, well, I haven’t talked about any of this with her, so I’m looking forward to her input over Christmas. She’s had an “old soul” wisdom since toddlerhood, I kid you not.


3 Responses

  1. That is kind of cute that you gave everyone a little nickname. Starfish is a cute nickname …!

    I am so happy your family is bearing the storm all right. They seem like they have their heads screwed on really straight 🙂

  2. I call her Starfish because she regenerates removed body parts – specifically moles and breasts. Okay, so the breasts were only reduced, but dear god they came with a vengeance immediately. She loves the nickname 🙂

    The thing is, I’m the one with her head screwed on the straightest. And while that hasn’t kept me out of PF danger, it means I’m the one best suited to battling the financial flames. Oh listen to me, getting all melodramatic about money.

  3. You are a strong and resilient woman and I know you’ll weather this storm wherever you may be. With respect to your prior post, I know it’s difficult to accept help from family members. But you’re so conscientious, I know you won’t let the generosity drag on unnecessarily. Also, since you’ve been so generous with your family, I think it’s only fair that it’s
    your turn to receive help. One thing you should note is that people offer to help because they sincerely care. You’re not the only one benefitting. 😀

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