Small cutbacks have turned into lifestyle changes…and some people are complaining as this downturn hurts. While Nightly Business Report asked stock experts just six months ago if we were in a recession, and all said “no”, finally the flood gate of dirty secrets was let out of the bag and Americans, who knew things weren’t right, are discovering it doesn’t go away overnight. Americans are experiencing cuts a lot deeper today than just a few months back, and the likes of Jason Jepson of Huntington Beach, Calif., who quit buying power bars at his health club, are admitting to the pain they feel in this difficult transition into “less”…which isn’t more.
The HB resident moved from a $1,200 apartment to a $700 room in a house as money concerns increased.
Also in Huntington Beach, a family of four (two adults & two kids) in the Hope View School tract lost their home and are waiting till evicted to find figure out where they’ll go. Working in the mortgage biz, they have yet to find jobs to pay rent and keep a roof over the children.
Just blocks away on Edwards Hill, several investors have been rocked by the Bernie Madoff scandal. Just living from month to month is tough now.
Over in South Huntington Beach near the new Trader Joe’s one person we know has shelved a 20-year career as a job placement professional and is trying to rep a food product for commissions that don’t come easy.
Then there’s the lady who lost her job at a legal firm and is shredding documents for a friend in an office, earning bits & pieces till she lands a full time job to pay the mortgage.
One couple wants to divorce but they can’t afford it now. He’s unemployed (lost his job) and she freelances.
Another did divorce and with the cash, he is carrying his business to keep it afloat.
Then there’s the family that found the husband left without notice. With no job and a disabled child, the wife is still looking for ways to survive and is thinking of moving in with her parents till something comes along.
This is the reality that the faces Surf City today. While some residents still are gainfully employed and unimpacted, anyone who tries to sell a house will learn that values aren’t the same as they once were. If you bought on the upslope, then you may lose your shirt. If you are retiring right now and were counting on a 401K, then you may have just seen your retirement plans fade.
A nation of optimistic buyers has become a nation of pessimists who are cutting back on window shopping as spending becomes a necessity for food, utilities and the basics. Hunkered down and hanging on to even pennies, when you’re in a crisis mode, you lock down.
The ways that people cope with spending are innovative, but mostly practical. For instance, a manager at a Von’s store was seen shopping with his wife at 99¢ Store, buying produce. Travelers and conference planners have come up with some great ideas to repackage their travel. “We’re holding off our conference till the fall,” said one technology firm planning a conference to Huntington Beach. Translated, the company didn’t have enough attendees signed up to break even on the trip, thus the delay in holding it. For those who think they can spend money on hotels, they are spending less and staying shorter amounts. Never have there been so many one night hotel stays as this year. In Huntington Beach, the City Treasurer, Shari Friedenrich reported at the recent council meeting that Hotel Occupancy Tax was down 15%. While that amount seems modest, one of the city’s largest sources of income is impacted by the downturn. And just in case you are not touched by all this, remember that no job is secured, unless you own an oil well in town. There aren’t many who do, but they seem to be holding strong.