Monday, August 25, 2008

Are you better off?

CnnMoney asks: Are You Better Off?

While I won’t be uploading an iReport, here are my answers:

Employment: Are you still employed and is your job relatively secure? If you've lost your job, will it be hard for you to land another?

I have a stable job, which I am not likely to be laid off from. More than a stable job, it’s also one that I really, really enjoy, so I’m very lucky. If I *were* to be laid off, I have several months’ of expenses saved to cover the job search, and I would probably qualify for unemployment benefits.

Income: Is your take-home paying going as far as it used to? Have your hours at work been cut? If you switched jobs, were you forced to take a lower-paying one because you couldn't find anything else?

My income…well, my income is going as far as ever, I think. I supplement my income with side jobs (mystery shopping, performing, focus groups) but I think if push came to shove, I could easily live below my main day job income. I imagine I will get another raise when my next review comes up, but I’m not expecting it to be as big as the last one. I have not taken on as many responsibilities as I did last year, and I know my company is on a hiring freeze and I assume that translates to less money for raises as well.

Housing: If you bought before 2001, consider whether your house is worth more or less now. It may not command the sky-high prices that it did during the bubble, but is it worth less than when you bought it (taking inflation into account)?

Well, I don’t own. And I have no expectation of doing so for a long time, thanks to New York’s economy. However, I do rent my own place, which is a major goal I’ve had for a long time. I am beholden to no one and it’s wonderful. I hope that my rent will not skyrocket when the lease comes up for renewal, but that’s a possibility (my apartment is not rent-stabilized). If it goes up more than $50 a month or so, I might have to move again.

Net worth: Have you managed to sock away more money in your 401(k) or bank account? Are your investments worth more? Do you have more equity in your home after years of mortgage payments?

My net worth has been declining, due to retirement accounts losing value and my taking on debt for the first time. I feel that these student loans are worth it, however, and I will be able to pay them back quickly thanks to tuition reimbursement from my job.

Debt: Are you deeper in debt than you were seven years ago? Do you owe more on your credit cards and have less equity in your home?

Aside from the student loans, I have no consumer debt. I use a credit card but pay it off in full each month.

Consumer sentiment: How are you feeling about your personal financial situation? Are you concerned about the economy? Have you made any changes in your spending or saving because of these sentiments?

I haven’t made changes in my spending or saving, not really. I’ve always been frugal. I’ve always preferred to take my lunch to work or save up to buy something big. I feel that the rest of the economy is catching up to the way I’ve been living for a long time. I don’t feel it’s all doom and gloom—I think the economy is correcting itself and it’s been a long time coming. I hope people learn something from it and learn to stay within their means a little more. I hope it’s a reminder to me that if I stay frugal and save, I can take advantage of a downturn the next time it comes up—maybe I’ll have enough saved to buy some real estate or something.

What about you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm much worse off...but it's because I went back to school! :)


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