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Are you tightening your belts?

I haven't seen it yet, but apparently Portland Monthly's cover story is all about Portland real estate and why Portland is still America’s hottest hometown.  We're not going to try to discuss the reality of the Portland economy here, but we've heard several families recently talking about changes in family finances to perpare for joblessness and other losses.  With this economy doing something funny, are you tightening your family money belts even more, saving more for those rainy days?  What are included in part of your essential monthly expenses and what are more discretionary (and, therefore, disposable)?  Do you feel secure here in Portland, a bit insulated from the housing crisis that hit hard in parts of California and Florida?  Or, have you noticed the chill, in one way or another?

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As a recent transplant from California, I can say that things don't seem as bad here.
But, with gas prices continuing to rise (which means the price of goods is also going up), we have noticed a difference in how far our dollar is stretched.

yes! we have changed our grocery and goods shopping habits immensely, as well as gotten rid of the "extras" like cable tv, pioneer organics, and so on.
we're super crafty and thrifty, so at least the changes don't seem so...ummm...painful. we also bought our house last august...right in the middle of the whole mortgage meltdown...and it looks like we'll be in it for a while before we could even think of selling it. (although we bought our house to live in...not FLIP!)

Yes to everything... husband recently outsourced along with his entire department.

We are eating at home more, brown bagging lunches more and are being more mindful about eating leftovers (rather than letting them languish in the back of the fridge until they turn green). We've cut back on the "we're bored, let's go to ...insert destination..." mini-road trips on the weekends. We've been watching a lot more Netflix, and have renewed our interest in attending movies at Kennedy School and the Academy Theatre, rather than the first run venues. Not as many live plays or concerts this year. No major vacation this summer, either.

The upcoming check from the Feds is NOT going to stimulate the economy--it's going to stimulate my savings account.

We have not had to make any really hard choices yet, and all of the changes we've made are really for the better anyway. We were living pretty conservatively to begin with.

Next up? If I can't swing a couple of consistent, scheduled telecommuting days pretty soon, cable is gonna get the ax.

We're doing ok and I continue to feel lucky that we can afford the lifestyle that we currently live--I'm home full time and my husband makes enough for us to live comfortably, to save a little and to enjoy a little. We generally live pretty conservatively, and we have always had the luxury of savings, so I do feel secure. However, in the last several months, our grocery and gas bills have sky rocketed! Gas is obvious, my husband has a long commute, although I generally dont drive much at all since I have really turned my focus to walking as much as possible. But the groceries are insane...I really feel sorry for those living on a tight budget, trying to shop smart for food, it's scary. I have recently decided to make a concerted effort to cut down our grocery bills, it's gonna take some organization, planning and discipline on my part, and my meat-loving husband might have to sacrifice a little, but I think we can do it. The article about the 4 families who took this challenge on in Food Day yesterday inspires me even more.

Amen to that Leah. I read that article and felt horrible when I realized what our grocery budget really looks like and what we could do if we watched it a bit. Groceries seem to be the one last luxury we have these days as I'm at home and don't find myself shopping for clothes, shoes, lattes, etc anymore. But, it's getting way too expensive to not pay more attention to it.

It's good to hear that I'm not alone in this. I'm a SAHM mom for the time being, and even though I saved to take a year off, we're watching our costs really carefully. No more going out to eat multiple times a week (uh, you think?).

I'll be asking my mom for recipes and tips, knowing that she had the same lifestyle when I was a kid. Although, we have so many extras that our parents never had -- cellphone, Internet, etc. -- that now seem like necessities.

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