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April 2009 Archives

  • Your 100 Days

    If you peeked at the news today, you probably have a good idea about what’s happened in Washington D.C. over the past 100 days, but what about outside the Beltway? A few days ago we asked members of the network how their past 100 days went.


    None of the current administration’s policy changes have changed in my life in the last 100 days. I bought my house too early to enjoy the tax credit, I make too much money for my daughter to take advantage of student financial aid, I don’t make enough money to see my taxes raised, and despite all of the rhetoric about “Bringing home the troops” I still face the possibility of deployment to the Middle East.

    Dean Cox from Oak Harbor, WA,

    I celebrated Obama’s inauguration, experienced my mother’s death, got a new job. The inauguration was inspiring, if only because of the vast hordes of people on the D.C. mall. The death was rather traumatic and sad, though my mother was 84 and really ready to go, and the job is a welcome relief, especially in these times when it is so hard for many unemployed people to find new ones.

    Anne, Brookline, MA

    My life has changed for the worse. I do appreciate all of the things that the Obama administration is trying to do, but much of it does not seem to be ‘strong’ enough. I have been trying to refinance my home since last year. They actually told me to “call back after I’ve missed a payment”!! Amazingly, my community (the New Orleans area) is one of the very few which is weathering this recession.

    Darlene, Covington LA

    I expect my work life to get a little more complicated and busy since I do information security risk analysis (in government health care and transportation) and especially in some of the new health care initiatives, there’s apt to be more compliance regulation. We’re seeing glimmers of hope especially with Green Energy construction projects. Sounds like a number of jobs here.

    Jerral Sapienza, Eugene, OR

    I am very concerned with the encroachment of the government on our companies. I am especially disappointed that the “root cause” of the collapse of the mortgage industry can easily be traced to the government, and politically influential organizations, putting pressure on banks to make loans that had no sound business justification to support them. I am now very worried about the effect of inflation on my fixed income pension.

    Arthur Naujock, Livonia MI

    I am a freelancer and some events that I’ve done every year for some time now have been cancelled, so I’m feeling the effects of the downturn. Although I’m feeling like I’m not on a very firm footing financially, I am feeling optimistic because of the way Obama is conducting his presidency.

    Jim McCurdy , Long Beach CA

    What about you? How, if at all, has your life changed in the last 100 days?

  • What do you know about public health and disaster preparedness?

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on April 27, 2009 3:32 PM

    It’s too early to tell how big or small the current swine flu outbreak will get, but Marketplace will be prepared.

    Are you a first responder, public health professional, or other worker whose job may be affected by an outbreak? Let us know what you’re experiencing and thinking about the outbreak here.

    If you’re alarmed by the prospect of an outbreak but your budget is tight, are you spending on emergency supplies?

    Click here to tell Marketplace how your work or personal life connects to this week’s swine flu concerns. Or, hit the comments below.

    And in case you didn’t catch it, Scott Jagow posted a link to a 1976 swine flu PSA on his blog, along with a pun that’s making me groan in pain.

  • How has your life changed in the past three months?


    On April 29 the world will assess President Obama’s first 100 days in office. It’s an arbitrary time for a progress report, but as good as any, so we thought we’d check in with you: How, if at all, has your life changed in the past 100 days?

    Click this link if you’d like to share your story with Marketplace, or hit the comments button below to share with everyone.

  • Nice day for a tight wedding

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 24, 2009 12:11 PM

    Lindsey Wollschlager Justin Johnson.jpgA couple of weeks ago, I asked people in our Public Insight Network about how the recession was changing their wedding plans.

    Lindsey Wollschlager replied that instead of the big reception, she and fiance Justin Johnson were going to trim costs by moving the event to their favorite lakeside campground. Their story, by Marketplace reporter Ashley Milne-Tyte, aired today on Marketplace Morning Report.

    Do you have a story about what the recession is doing to (or for) your wedding? Share it with the Marketplace newsroom, or add your comments below.

  • What are your post-graduation plans?


    The world is a lot different than it was four years ago when the Class of 2009 signed up for classes. If you’re graduating this May, we want to hear about your plans for the future.

  • How do you fix a falling FICO?

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 21, 2009 6:23 AM

    This weekend’s episode of Marketplace Money was all about the FICO score — essentially a measure that banks and lenders use to gauge how well you manage the money people lend you.

    It featured several people from the Public Insight Network — especially the last segment where people described how they weaned themselves off credit.

    Click this link if you’d like to share your Fico-Fix-it or other credit story with Marketplace, or hit the comments button below to share with everyone.

  • What, me worry?

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 20, 2009 2:39 PM via Flickr.jpg

    Are your retirement plans on track, or derailed?

    Pollster Gallup says that for the first time this decade more non-retired Americans doubt they will have enough money to live comfortably when they retire. Some 52 percent say they won’t have enough money, 41 percent say they will.

    So what happens if you reach retirement age and you haven’t saved enough? What happens if you were depending on the sale of your home to fund your retirement and suddenly your home isn’t worth very much or won’t sell?

    Do you alter expectations? Keep working? Join a commune? Move in with your kids?

    Click here to share your retirement story with Marketplace, or click the comments button to share with everybody.

  • Good News Friday: Are you being served?

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on April 17, 2009 9:24 AM

    I’m toying with the idea of posting good news about the economy in people’s lives on this blog on Fridays. Got some good news to share? Gimme whatcha got. Use this form, and let us know if you want to hear good news in the comments below.

    For our first Good News Friday post, we have a commentary from Steve Eddington of Rolling Meadows, IL, who wrote in recently with some thoughts on customer service (you can share yours here) — and a business doing something right — at a time when so much is going wrong.

    dunkin 004.jpg (Steve with his morning cuppa)

    On the way to work each morning, I stop by a convenient coffee shop that also has a reputation for super good doughnuts.

    Over the last few months, the staff in the shop has changed due to a new owner, but the core staff has remained the same, and I have reached the status of “regular.”

    My first few weeks when I approached the counter I was greeted with a nice hello and a “can I help you?” My answer was always “yes, I would like a large coffee with cream.” Them: “just cream?” Me: “just cream.”

    After a week of this, my order changed to “large just cream.” It was obvious I didn’t need to say “large coffee.” I also learned that “cream only” was sufficient, but “just cream” had no chance of being flubbed by the counter personnel.

    They always asked the up sell question, “any doughnuts, bagels or muffins?” I always said “no thanks.”

    The transaction ended with “have a nice day,” I handed over the money, grabbed my java and continued to the office.

    After a few weeks, when I walked in, the counter person, recognizing me, asked, “large just cream?” Me: “Yes.” She: “Doughnut, bagel, muffin?” Me: “No thanks.” Then I’d pay and leave, coffee in hand. I was always reminded to have a nice day.

    Continue reading Good News Friday: Are you being served?.
  • Are pets worth what they cost?

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 15, 2009 2:15 PM

    Rosie Kreisel.jpg Photo: Rene Kreisel

    It’s not all about the bears and bulls at Marketplace, from time to time, we talk dogs and cats:

    How does your pet affect your finances? Pets aren’t free. Keeping Fido in kibble and chew toys costs money. As budgets tighten in the recession, have you changed how you spend on your pet? Maybe you’ve figured out a way to make your pet work for you?

    Tell your story to Marketplace, or hit the comments button to share with everybody. Read on to see what some in the Public Insight Network say about their pets…including Rosie, shown above.

    Continue reading Are pets worth what they cost?.
  • Will you marry me? After the recession?

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 13, 2009 1:00 PM

    Matt Dinerstein exit photo.jpg

    Photographers and other wedding entreprenuers in the Public Insight Network say they are getting fewer bookings for 2009 - most likely because of the recession — but that 2010 is looking stronger. They suspect couples are putting off the event and expense in anticipation of better times.

    What’s the recession doing to weddings? You can tell Marketplace, or hit the comments button below to share your experiences publicly.

    Waiting out the recession is an option for patient lovers but some want to make the leap to married life this year.

    Wedding photographers are feeling a lot of pressure as couples negotiate lower prices, thinner packages, or turn the task over to less-experienced venders, says Matt Dinerstein, a photographer from Evanston, Ill., whose work appears above:

    These days due both to the poor economy and the relatively in- expensive availability of high quality digital cameras, everyone is a photographer! Maybe during the week they are waiters or work at Starbuck’s but on the weekend they are now my competition.

    But most couples are not versed in buying photography services so they don’t know how to compare offers beyond looking at the bottom line, he said.

    Rich Murphy, a photographer from Sioux Falls, S.D., says his business is doing very well because he charges less than others in the area.

    I think many brides are cutting back on some of the extras and looking for a way to get a professional look without the high price. This holds true with flowers, catering, venue etc. They seem to ask more questions relating to cost than in years past… With the recession now in full swing it seems we are in more demand than ever.

    There’s more barter, more bargain-hunting, more do-it-yourself food and accessories and sometimes, a re-working of the entire wedding plan. Has the recession made you change your wedding plans?

  • Are you reworking your "personal economy"?


    Recently, we spoke to a woman who decided to cut back her donations to a big charity and use her money instead to support local merchants in her neighborhood—a grocery store where prices were a little high—a small clothing store where things weren’t marked down 70 percent. She was also tipping more at the local restaurant and car wash. She is reworking her own “personal economy” to deal with changes in the larger economy.

    How about you? Has the recent recession changed how you think about your money?

    Leave comments below or speak to the newsroom privately here.

  • Feeling ripped off -- at work?

    • Posted by Sharon McNary
    • on April 7, 2009 3:19 PM

    Lots of us are shouldering more work as layoffs thin the workforce. But when employers tighten expenses, are some of those dollars being wrongly shaved off your paycheck? If so, what did you do about it?

    Click here to share your experience with Marketplace.

    Perhaps you work more hours than appear on your pay stub. Maybe you work overtime without pay, or an employer withheld your final paycheck.

    You can complain to the feds, but an undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that U.S. Labor Department enforcement workers were slow to respond to complaints, failed to recognize illegal practices or to follow up with investigations. That leaves workers even more vulnerable to paycheck fraud.

    You can even listen to some of the calls GAO investigators made to the complaint-takers at the Wage and Hours Division.

    Quitting’s an option — maybe go out Johnny Paycheck style:

  • A little retirement gallows humor

    • Posted by Jo Easton
    • on April 1, 2009 12:08 PM

    We’ve been asking the Network some questions in the last week about retirement attitudes and expectations. A couple of us are reading through the responses, and finding ideas and people to interview for stories.

    And then sometimes I stumble across a response that makes me guffaw out loud. Take it straight from construction manager Jack Fallin of Charlotte, NC:

    I had hoped to retire at 66 or 67 and enjoy my remaining years with my Grandchildren. I now plan to work until 86 or 92 and then get a part time job and take up smoking and drinking heavily to shorten my retirement time.

    So, I’ve gotta wonder — is he serious, or not? Are you thinking dark thoughts about your own retirement options?

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Overheard on the Trading Floor