Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wow, sorry for the lull....

Quite honestly I haven't had a lot to write about lately (man, that makes me sound boring) but life is just same ol', same ol'. The dogs are good, the weather is unusually warm and work is holding steady with the level of craziness that goes on. I get a "vacation" in about 6 weeks....however this vacation consists of a week long lab safety conference, BUT it's the only time I've taken more than 2 days off work in a row in 2 years so I'm thankful to at least be out of this building, it's completely paid for, I don't have to use my PTO since it is "work" time, the conference is in downtown Charleston (read: near the beach) and I'm going with a friend of mine (who also happens to be my lab assistant) since DH is understandably saving his vacation time for the end of year.

I'm still debating the school thing...as in, what to get my Masters in. As some of you remember I opted to drop out (ugh, I hate that wording) of my counseling masters for personal reasons and simply for the fact once I got into it, I didn't like it. There is an OT Masters available where I work now, which seems like a good option...however I really need to get cracking on getting my GRE's done because if I do the OT thing I will need to get all of my stuff in before Sept. or Oct. to be competitive for the entering class of Fall 2009. I really want to get out of what I'm doing now because although the pay is decent (I guess) there is no where to go from here in the company. I've maxed out because my job is the only job like this in the entire college. Isn't it funny how years ago all you needed was that "piece of paper" hanging on the wall to make a good living for your family, and now, to REALLY get anywhere (at least around here) you need one or two or three pieces of paper saying you are qualified for something?

Plus in today's economy (and no I don't think it is getting better) people are bearly getting by! I was watching Fox.news today and heard a story about generational change. THIS generation of adults are one of the first generations who think America will NOT be better for their children. As someone with a child on the way...I have to agree, and that makes me so incredibly sad. With the sky-rocketing price of gas and food and just, well, everything. I wonder how I will provide a good home for my child....I of course will sacrifice everything I can to make it so, but I still worry. If you would have asked me a year ago if I was worried about the financial aspect of my future family I would have said I was comfortable with it....there was an ample amount of "extra" income after bills and budgeting....today however, it is most certainly not as much. It just amazes me that in the last six months DH and I have done nothing different (as far as purchases, vacations, etc), but yet now with the exact same bills AND a small raise (3%) for both DH and I....there is less money left over. I also read an article yesterday about the correlation between high debt stress (as in the present state for MOST people) and your health. Here are the stats:
  • 27 percent had ulcers or digestive tract problems, compared with 8 percent of those with low levels of debt stress.
  • 44 percent had migraines or other headaches, compared with 15 percent.
  • 29 percent suffered severe anxiety, compared with 4 percent.
  • 23 percent had severe depression, compared with 4 percent.
  • 6 percent reported heart attacks, double the rate for those with low debt stress.
  • More than half, 51 percent, had muscle tension, including pain in the lower back. That compared with 31 percent of those with low levels of debt stress.
You can read the full article here.

Oi-vey.....so, for today I will open a forum for debate:

~One, in general (obviously there are exceptions here) do you think in today's society you have to have AT LEAST one post-secondary degree to be "successful"?
~Two, what are your thoughts on this generational change? Do you agree or not?
~Three, has the economy affected your household and family? If so, how, and are you affected by debt stress? How do you "deal"?


K @ ourboxofrain said...

Good questions, ones that I think are on a lot of people's minds these days.

1. In part, it depends on your definition of success, as well as where you live. In some parts of the country (well, much of the country), the cost of living is manageable, and jobs that one can qualify for with a single piece of paper pay enough and offer enough stability to afford a decent house, a decent car, and some ability to save for retirement. Where I am, though, not so much. You end up needing luck/general fortuitousness or additional degrees. And even that is no guarantee of success, regardless of how you measure it.

2. I have that fear re our children's generation not being better off than we are, but my father always had the same fear for my brother and I too. I think the fear has become more widespread, but I wonder what statistics would have shown 3 years ago, 5 years ago, ten years ago.

3. It's not so much the economy for me as it is the reality of how much our life is going to change soon. We have no consumer debt right now -- just a manageable mortgage and my student loans -- but we need to get a new car, and we need to fence in our yard, and we keep having to buy stuff. This scares the crap out of me. And I also fear for my brother and Ps sister, each of whom is less well equipped to handle the downturn in the economy.

Sorry my answers are so long.

KatieM said...

Long answers are good! I'm really curious to see how people respond to this, because as you say, these are questions (well at least the last two) that seem to be on a lot of people's minds lately.

Jen said...

1. Like K, I think this depends on how you define success. For me, it did require getting a master's degree because in a white collar world it is just much harder to achieve the level of responsibility that I wanted without it. But if you define it simply by money, then I think it is less important. My DH, as an example, makes the same amount of money as I do, and he never even went to college but instead got into a lucrative construction career through an apprenticeship. And because he doesn't see having responsibility as a prerequisite to success, he's perfectly content.

2. I do worry about our children not being better off than us. I'm very concerned about the cost of social security and especial Medicare. I fear that people have leaned too much on government support in the past several decades rather than taking responsibility for themselves and their financial futures.

3. For the most part, the current economic situation has not impacted us too much. For one thing, Seattle's economy has not been as hard hit as others in the country (knock on wood). Also, we've been in our house long enough that we can afford to lose a little equity without taking a huge hit on our net worth. Over the past several years, I've worked on paying down debt so that we could live on one income if absolutely necessary as construction jobs are more subject to economic fluctuations, and I think that will be helping us in the long run.

Jen said...

Oh and definitely get the GRE out of the way if you think you'll be going back to school in a couple of years. I had to take mine with only a month to prepare, and it really wasn't too bad. It's pretty basic stuff that just requires some higher level cognitive skills. So if you get a book and get used to how they do the test, you'll be fine.

Cate said...

1. I tend to think so, however, my brothers have proved to be successful without the degree, but they are full time military.

2. I agree. I worry daily about how things will be for Lex. Is he going to have to struggle or will things be about the same.

3. Other than the prices of things we need going up we've been very lucky. I just graduated and found a well paying job in my field the day before graduation and my husband is in a field that only expands (internet). Things get tight but that is more our money managing skills than anything.

La La said...

Ohhhh, the GRE...::shudders:::...

I studied for that stupid test for months, my score never went up one BIT on the practice tests, and then when the test date finally came I totally chickened out and didn't even go. I ended up just applying for the one program I was interested in that didn't require it. How lame am I?

For question #1 = I tend to agree, yes. Obviously, I am working my butt off to get into/finish my MA because unless I do I will never make more money than I do right now (a VERY scary thought).

For the other two questions I don't really have much to offer at this time. The economy is not effecting Hubby and I at the moment because we are both on temoporary disability. I'll let you know in a few months when the babies arrive and we both go back to work - I'm sure we will be hurting then!

Carrie said...

1. No, I don't think you have to have a degree to be successful - you have to be a hardworker and willing to put yourself out there. A friend of mine - who was always pushing everyone she knew to go to college and insinutating that you'd never amount to anything if you didn't - went and after she graduated ended up working a crap job making $7 an hour for years and years. Yet neither my husband nor I ever went to college and we made three digits last year.

2. I think the biggest issue right now is the fact that people don't really know how to manage their money and a lot of people think they have to have the biggest and best of everything and/or blow their money on useless junk.

3. We worked our butts off last year to be able to pay off all of our debt so all we have is our mortgage. We try to pay cash for everything and don't go overboard eating out, shopping and buying the latest gadgets. Gas prices suck, but because of planning ahead, it's not really affecting us... just making us angry that we're spending money we could be investing.