Saturday, April 11, 2009


The last year has been a shocking mess. I can only equate the feelings engendered by events to the insecurity felt after 9/11. I've seen good friends and colleagues who were retired or nearing retirement get financially wiped out. I've heard of folks being relieved that their office was in a one-story building, in case they felt like jumping out the window. I've seen even the most seasoned professional financial minds cracking under the strain. Everything my husband and I have worked so hard for is suddenly under attack, and now the success that used to be a source of great pride is something to hide.

For all the so-called financial experts who think they know what caused this recession and all its woes, let me add this simple fact that few seem to acknowledge. The price of gasoline is what precipitated the collapse. Most families, no matter what their income, have been living beyond their means. They were mortgaged beyond the hilt, they had car payments, they had credit card payments, they took vacations to exotic places every year...every last dime and then some was allocated.

When gasoline prices doubled and tripled, priorities suddenly changed. Not those about where to go on vacation, but where to spend what was left of their money after paying for the gas to get to their jobs! So many of us live at least a half hour drive from our work, and the extra cost of driving to and from work every day was costing every single family, no matter how much money they made, at least an extra $400.00 to $500.00 a month. That was money not going somewhere else. So...since you had to make the choice to get to work number one, everything else was subordinate. Mortgage payments; credit cards; etc.. Very soon, foreclosures and bankruptcies started to happen, and the dominoes just kept tumbling.

But now it's Spring! The sun is starting to shine again. This is a season of rebirth and growth. And we are in much better shape psychologically for all of it. Why? Because we've learned something. We've learned fully what the phrase "What goes up must come down" really means. It's something our parents knew in the bone because they had gone through the Great Depression.

So, out with debt; In with budgeting. Out with credit cards; in with cash. Out with the latest in fashion; in with taking better care of the clothes and shoes you have and making them last. Out with new cars every three years; in with paying off the ones you have. Out with restaurants every other night; in with fixing a good dinner at home. Out with the old, in with the new...and it feels great! My Daddy would be proud!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Emporer's New Clothes

I'm sure we've all seen the gushing and fawning going on about Michelle Obama's fashion. If it seems a trifle forced, I believe that you are getting it.

The fashion writers have had an eight year pause in their coverage, and as much as they want it, they just can't quite re-create Camelot. Michelle is no Jackie, but it doesn't stop the press from trying to make her in Jackie's image. But the clear-eyed truth is that Michelle Obama is like most of the rest of us when it comes to fashion. Sometimes she gets it; but a lot of the time (black widow spider dress comes to mind) she misses by a mile.

Although the press raved about her inaugural garb, to me she looked like she'd been sprayed with a can of Redi-Whip. When she met Sarcosy's wife, she looked like she was wearing her granny's drapery. But the adoring press acted like the awestruck courtiers in the story, "The Emporer's New Clothes", wherein a tailor sold the silly monarch a suit of new clothes which were absolutely non-existent. The emporer believed the flattery, and the people enabled that belief by repeating it. It took one little child saying "but he's naked!" to bring the truth to light.