It's bad everywhere, I realize that. But it keeps getting worse. Here in Florida, state unemployment is the highest since 1983, and the Unemployment Benefits office is besieged by calls. Their volume is so high, it's making the news.
Everywhere you go, every discussion turns to the economy.
My best friend, Pov, just lost his job.
I still have my two jobs, but the new one may not last long because the owner, Claire, is out of cash and can't even make the current payroll.
The two luxury yacht salesmen I know have lost their jobs. This is truly a bad sign, because (in general) wealthy people keep spending no matter what.
In the thrift stores, signs are posted begging for donations. No one is donating right now because everyone is hanging on to what they've got, putting off replacing whatever it might be.
I recently went to Synovus Bank to cash a check. While I was there, the teller leaned over and confided to me that they had all just had a pay cut but it was better than losing their jobs altogether. I didn't know this woman - she's a total stranger who apparently is on the edge.
I was in the store the other day and a pleasant-looking older woman accosted me, begging me to pass on her personal information if I knew of any jobs out there. "I'll do anything," she emphasized. "Scrub toilets, whatever it takes. I'm desperate." She was a former cosmetics counter manager for a major department store.
This is what networking has come to. We no longer want to find a better job: Any job will do.
You hear shills on the radio encouraging you to invest in gold. Sure! I'll just take that extra several thousand dollars I've got stuffed in my mattress and I'll buy a couple of coins.
Obviously buying gold isn't the answer, but it's unaffordability is only one reason. Here's another:
Gold is not a common currency, so you'll have to eventually convert it into cash anyway. And if cash is worthless at that point, you can't even do that. All you will be able to do is trade it.
At that point, good luck finding someone who is willing to trade for a solid gold coin. You might find the occasional person who will, but they will be very subjective in evaluating what that gold coin is worth to them personally. They will know that it's not an easily tradeable commodity and that will actually devalue your "investment".
If we're returning to the economy of the early 80s, we need to look to the solutions they had in the early 80s. Barter became the solution to many problems, and it probably will again.
What was bartered? Services and items. Couches that at one time would have ended up in thrift stores were bartered for computer services. Haircuts were bartered for home-cooked meals or babysitting services.
There were two types of bartering groups:
1. The kind that directly exchanged services and goods.
2. The kind that converted all services and goods into "Barter Bucks" that could be spent at will among other members of the group.
My ex-husband and I belonged to both types of groups. The second was a much superior idea, but it only works when a large number of people have banded together. This would work, for instance, with Craig's List participants, but Craig's List would have to see a need for this and create it.
It's time to get out some of the old ideas and dust them off once more. It's time to get creative.