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Old 03-02-2009, 08:33 AM   #61
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We've had at least that backlog of projects looking for a contractor. The nice thing about a recession is that we finally have contractors available again!
Yes, that's true. If I felt my long-term employment situation were more secure, I'd be all over these projects. Some contractors are desperate enough for work that they'd cut you a significant price break and start work tomorrow.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:41 AM   #62
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We've had at least that backlog of projects looking for a contractor. The nice thing about a recession is that we finally have contractors available again!

Our cash flow now is better than it was in 2000-2002, so our cash stash can stretch a lot further than we expected...
Conversely, my bro-in-law the contractor is so busy he can't keep up.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:25 PM   #63
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Friends called saying they would be passing through town and why don't we meet them for dinner. We did. Lots of fun at the time. But later DW and I both brought up the fact that the approximate $80 we spent was as much as our normal grocery bill for a week

We made this calculation when husband retired and our income dropped by 35%. We stopped going out to eat, period. We cook for friends at our home. It's harder to carry off on the spur of the moment, but not impossible.

At far less than it would cost the 2 of us at a restaurant, we can provide ourselves and 2 friends the kind of dinner, dessert, coffee, and alcoholic beverages we could get at a restaurant (frankly, the dessert will be better than a restaurant 'cause I'm just a competent cook--but desserts are my hobby ). No tipping; no parking problems; peace and quiet for conversation; kids (if any) can play in the finished basement.

If my and husband's Martha Stewart genes are tired, we just offer snacks, dessert, coffee, and drinks. We have a stash of fancy liqueurs for these occasions...makes people feel special. The liqueur stash was expensive to buy but the bottles last for years, and we serve in fancy little glasses we picked up at flea markets.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:37 PM   #64
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Amethyst.....

Yeah, we're more than aware of the large cost delta between dining out and eating at home. The point of my post was that this economy and the subsequent drop in the value of our investments has changed our attitude towards any (not just dining out) discretionary/spontaneous/frivilous expenditure negative. The $80 would have been fairly inconsequential to us pre-meltdown. We don't spend much on dining out for either convenience or entertainment. But if we did, there used to be no worry or concern as the impact on the discretionary spending budget would have been close to nil. Now....... discretionary purchases usually result in a case of buyers remorse.


Dining out, plays, live music, sitting down at the pub having a pint and gossiping with the boys, vacations, breakaway weekends and on and on. It's hard for us to still enjoy these things even though, thanks to a very conservative start to RE, they're not really completely out of reach financially yet.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:44 PM   #65
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we also do not eat out anymore - for Valentine's Day this year, dh2b bought and cooked us 2 beautiful Delmonico steaks, plus shrimp I already had in the freezer.
We had a decadent dinner we won't forget for quite a while.
The only eating out we do is my weekly chinese lunch buffet for $7 incl tax, or if I'm craving KFC or pizza.
It is a very different situation, sacraficing usual fun spending for the bigger picture of meeting expenses. Sigh.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:52 PM   #66
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I definatly feel poorer that I did when I retired in 2007, because I am. Now I'm thinking of packing my lunch and snacks when I go golfing. I'll still spend some money there, cart girls and waitress have to earn a living also, just not as much. I just try and tell myself that I still have it better than most.

My previous large cushion is just about gone. There is not much room for any large unexpected expenses. We are going on a cruise in March, but after that we are not planning on going anywhere that we can't drive to in a day.
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:51 PM   #67
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Amethyst..... Yeah, we're more than aware.... Now....... discretionary purchases usually result in a case of buyers remorse.

And I should've seen that was your point, instead of going all Ms. Advice Columnist and bragging about what great desserts I make? OK, point taken.

Anyway, when our income dropped, we cut where we could. Cutting costs, without losing the "perception" of living large, always seems mean more planning and effort = less spontaneity. Crummy equation.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:31 PM   #68
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Cutting costs, without losing the "perception" of living large, always seems mean more planning and effort = less spontaneity. Crummy equation.
Well put. And pretty well describes a fair portion of why DW and I feel "poorer" today.

We have always enjoyed spontaneous activities and, within reason, have been able to afford them without the expenditures materially impacting our progress to FIRE or, after FIRE, living as retirees. A last minute dinner date with friends, hitting the Hot Tix booth in downtown Chicago and catching a play or musical that same evening, deciding at the last minute to catch some live music, heading "Up Nort" for a long weekend of fishing...... etc. We were blessed that we could do that kind thing from time to time and not have it be a significant part of our overall retirement budget. We miss it!

BTW, not whining here. We realize lots of folks are being forced into making real sacrifices, not just cutting out discretionary fun. But, so far, this is what is making us feel "poor." If this is as bad as it gets, we'll be fine!
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:20 PM   #69
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My neighbor just got wheeled out of his house on a stretcher. We've always been friendly but not super close. Nice people, handsome younger couple - 40, tops. Ends up he's o.k. (we were all worried it was a stroke) but had a bad reaction to his new medication as he is borderline diabetic. His wife came over to talk to us and explain she thought it was that he had drank too much beer the night before at first. Ends up he was laid off some time ago and has had no luck finding work, and is getting pretty down. Her BIL was laid off in November and hasn't found anything, and now she was informed her company Taylor Made has announced another RIF ("Reduction in Force") and she doesn't know what's going to happen to her. I already have an empty house behind me, I'd hate to lose these neighbors. This is the part that really sucks. They lived pretty frugally from what I can tell, bought the smallest house in the development since they didn't plan on having kids. No toys, fancy cars, etc. To watch people who did not get stupid with the bubble get hurt by it's affects so tangibly is a strain.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:34 AM   #70
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My wife and I both come from humble origins (read poverty), so we've always lived a simple life. However, I've recently become a little concerned over our losses and have decided we'll need to tighten up on our budgeting even more. Unfortunately, it may be tough to cut-back even more since we we're already in a cut-backed budget!

I guess mostly we miss the comfort a cash buffer provides. On the other hand, we actually think it's kind of fun to live the frugal life. My wife can always find a job typing a million words per minute (or almost) and I can fix anything in the house. We got no debt, but we got our health.

Nope, I guess we don't feel poorer after all!!

Steve
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