Consumer spending is down, unemployment remains high, and job growth has slowed to a crawl - is the U.S. slipping into another recession? To find out what everyday Americans think about the potential for another downturn, we asked our contributors to tell us how their own financial situations are changing and how they're getting ready to face another recession. Below are some of their stories.
Keeping our costs down
"Right now we could afford to pay a little more rent so we could live someplace where our neighbors are an acre away, and we could burn wood to keep warm. That is our dream. In case work dries up, though, we feel more secure keeping our rent as low as possible and saving the extra income so we have it to buy food some day." - Cherise Kelley
You say recession, I say opportunity
"I could be like everyone else, throwing my hands up in the air and shrugging my shoulders while balancing my checkbook. I could stand in line at the grocery store and shake my head at the rising prices. I could break out into a rendition of 'Amazing Grace' at the gas pump, but I won't. Instead of buying into the doom and gloom, I'd rather take this recession by the horns and create opportunity." - Shauna Zamarripa
Digging in for the storm
"Regardless of what the TV tells us, we've accepted the fact that there will be no pots of gold at the end of any economic rainbows. Small-business owners have always been among the hardest-working members of our society. They are the backbone of our economy. Never before in recent times have we been faced with such uncertainty. Business was always hard. But now it's not so much a matter of increasing our personal finances or conducting business as usual. It is now a matter of survival.
"We've continued to do whatever we have to do to find work. No honest job was beneath us. We took whatever jobs we could get hired to do regardless of how overqualified we were. If the job paid and would hire us, we went to work." - Emilia Zs Rak
We're not making the same mistakes
"The recession that began in 2008 affected my family in a big way. My husband was laid off twice between 2008 and 2010. We are only now recovering from the impact of the recession. We never want to face the hardship we met during the last recession.
"Sticking to the budget we maintained during the recession allows us to keep our family afloat, while cutting out frivolous purchases. This also means that we are not getting used to any extra luxuries that we would not be able to afford, should another recession hit." - A.C. Haury
This time I have a plan
"During the last recession in 2008 I was all over the place, just like the stock market. I didn't really know what to do. Invest? Not invest? Hold tight?
"This time I know exactly what I'm going to do, because I'm already doing it. I'm not changing any of my long-term investments and am spending less. It's as simple as that. But what I have changed is my attitude. I'm not panicking like I was in '08, because I have a plan, and I'm sticking to it." - Marie Dubuque
Working, but not taking it for granted
"I have a job that I believe will continue for the foreseeable future. Being employed makes a huge difference in how a recession is processed. I don't want to say that I operate in a state of paranoia, but I try not to take employment for granted. Instead, I operate under the assumption that I could lose my job for reasons beyond my control.
"Dealing with a recession still comes down to living life and trying to enjoy those things that are positive. Many people are struggling financially, but for now I am going to prepare for another recession by working hard and not getting too anxious." - Todd Pheifer
We've already changed
"It's been a rough couple of years for our family, and the news that another recession is looming on the horizon has us concerned. Though we started the year with money in the bank, we had a series of costly emergencies that not only wiped out our savings but also drove us deeper into debt. For our family, preparing for another recession means aggressive cost-cutting, working additional jobs, and plowing extra cash into debt reduction. In the past couple of months, we've made a number of lifestyle changes in anticipation of tougher times ahead." - C. Jeanne Heida
We're still spending
"A recession is not an isolated event, and recovery can't be a one-man show either. We've established bartering networks. Neighborhoods, churches, or local associations are great places to start. My neighbor often loans me her car (my daughters usually have mine), and in exchange I pick up her son after school. She saves on after-school care, and I avoid expenses for a third vehicle.
"It is important to remember that recession recovery is impeded when people stop spending money. Wise discretionary spending will not only boost the local economy, it can also provide a much needed emotional boost in dark days." - Martha Fry