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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Welcome to Economic Crunch

Hi, I'm Polly Poorhouse. You probably know me. You may be my boss, my cubicle mate, my kid's teacher, my neighbor, or my babysitter. Or maybe we sat next to each other on an airplane, on a speaker's panel, or in church choir. You may have bought something from my husband's store, or chatted with me at the dog park. Maybe we've met in an online forum or at an arts or library event. Did we go to grad school, college, or high school together? Maybe you have been in one of the graduate classes I've taught.

But you probably don't know some of my secrets. Like I'm one of more than 700,000 Americans who received a foreclosure notice in the 2nd quarter of this year (or so says RealtyTrac). Like I have a close relative that is homeless. (They are harder to count, but there appear to be close to 700,000 as well according to the 2007 Annual Homeless Assessment Report conducted by National Alliance to End Homelessness).

How did this happen to middle class, intelligent, well-educated people?

Well, we obviously screwed up. I got laid off--three times. My business failed, leaving me sadled with unpaid debt and unpaid taxes. My husband lost his job. My relative has an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Yes, we are part of Phil Gramm's ("nation of whiners") people who dug ourselves into holes and are having tough time grabbing on to those sliding rocks to get out.

We have told a few loving friends and family members of our situation, but not our neighbors, colleagues, or casual acquaintances.

We are lucky in many ways. Despite the financial stress, my husband and I have turned to each other for comfort and support rather than away from each other in anger. Our wonderful children are adjusting to life without piano lessons, new clothes and school supplies, and toys. We have each found new jobs, although combined they do not pay enough for us to erase our debt in the short term. We will be OK. But the journey is a bear. Just when we think we have dodged one bullet, another zooms towards us.

This blog will document our journey back to economic stability. I'm not looking for advice. But I know we are not alone. Maybe our story can help you.

With frugal fondness,

Polly Poorhouse

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