I have a friend who, a few weeks ago, became the first person we know to succumb to the current financial crisis. Yes yes - we've all felt the heat, and we're all tightening our belts, but hers is the first family I know who has lost it all. She calls herself our own personal Canary In A Coal Mine.
Here's how: 1. Her husband is in Real Estate development for large fancy-pants shopping complexes. 2. My friend “does a little day trading”. This is how she puts it. The truth is that she provides a substantial and dependable second income for her family. 3. They bought a house in Los Angeles in 2004.
Everything started falling apart about a month ago. The stock market, as we all know, has been going wanky (that’s a technical term), prompting my friend to quit day-trading for a while. It just wasn’t working anymore. This was a blow to her personally, as well as to their bottom line. A week later her husband lost his job. He went in one day, and they told him it was his last day. He got a month of severance and went home. Now both of them have lost their incomes, their house has lost 15% of it’s value (almost 100K) so they’re upside-down on their mortgage, there aren’t any jobs in Real Estate development to be had, and they are boned. “We are boned, boned, boned. We are totally boned.” She says. “Boned three ways. Every single way there is to be boned in this economy, we are.”
Her husband has called in every marker in his jammed Blackberry. So has she. Nothing. They took a trip back to Texas to look for jobs. Nothing. She doesn’t know what they’ll do. They may try to short-sell the house. They really don’t want to go into bankruptcy. Their FICA score is above 750, and they don’t want to loose it. She told me that the other day she printed out their score, just to see it. “I held it, I rubbed it against my cheek, I love my perfect credit so much. I want to sleep with it. I'll loose it soon.” My friend is a funny lady, and like a canary, she is finding a way to sing in the coal mine. She’s got the three W’s going: wit, wine, and walking. She goes through her days cracking very funny, very acidic jokes. She enjoys a little wine. She walks. She walks ten miles a day these days. Ten miles a day. She says it helps keep the panic at bay. It cuts down on the vomiting and the crying and the hair loss. Sigh.