Readers answer: Are you better off than you were in 2008?
Taking our cue from Ronald Reagan’s famous 1980 debate line, “Are you better off than you were four years ago,” we asked readers last week to write about if they are better off today than in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected.
We asked that the answers be specifically about their experiences, not their perceptions of the country broadly or of other people’s situations. Below are the responses we got. We encourage others to participate by posting comments here — but remember, keep it about your experience. That’s the exercise here.
We where in the excavation business so we started seeing a big downturn in the fall of 2008. We had enough money saved, and with small jobs to limp along until the winter of 2010.
So we called the mortgage company and told them we were done. So we took a year to qualify for a loan which didn’t take anything away it just extended our loan from 12 years to 34 years which brought the payment down enough that we could afford to stay in our house.
At the time there were really great programs out to help people. We owed quite a bit of back taxes because of the crash. The IRS after a year forgave all of it.
From all the years of stress and my husband losing his business he became sick and now he’s on disability. It’s not a future I would have ever imagined at my age but God showed me he is faithful he will help us and provide for us and continue to care for us.
I am, yes (though we’re talking about a time span that starts with me living in my parents’ house attending high school and ends with me living on my own and working full-time in my field — I’d hope I could say my life improved!).
Some examples: Interest rates on student loans dropped from the time I started college (2009) to the time I earned my master’s (2014). I no longer have to visit a public health clinic for free birth control (despite the fact that I’ve never been without insurance, my insurance didn’t cover BC until the Affordable Care Act passed).
I was the maid of honor at my best friend’s wedding (she married a woman).
Now, I don’t pay a premium at all for good health insurance, thanks to a generous employer, and my field (media and the arts) is a lot more secure now than it was in 2008. My family hated the idea of me studying journalism when I entered college in 2009. So far, so good.
TERRY L. McCARTHY
I would have to say NO!! I am not better off now than I was in 2008.
In 2008, I was a recently divorced, single mother with two kids. I was living in Tennessee, renting a house that my mother bought so the kids and I would have a decent place to live. The house was 1,400 square feet with a half-acre lot and a garage.
I had a great job with an online company making a decent wage. I could work from home and take care of my kids. I could afford to pay my bills and put food on the table. I was even able to buy a new car that was reliable.
Now, in 2016, I have been living in the Roaring Fork Valley for a little over three years. I moved here to be closer to my family, who have lived here for many years. I am buying my little house which is 1297 square feet on a tiny sliver of property that I don’t even know what the acreage is because it is so little and no garage.
I am paying twice the monthly payment that I paid in Tennessee. I no longer have that sweet work-at-home job because I realized that I couldn’t live on the decent wage I was making in this valley. I knew I had a great skill-set and felt confident that I would be able to find a better job with better pay. Ha! After of year of moving from one job to another because travel expenses and travel time to get to the job were so out of whack with the pay, or the employer had the attitude that no employee was going to stick around long enough to invest any worthwhile training in them, or the job just not a good fit for me or the employer, I found a great job … at the same pay rate I was making when I was working for the online company, except now I have lunch and travel expenses to deal with. I love my job … that is the only reason I decided to stay …but I am definitely not in a better place financially.
Back in 2008, I truly believed that if I worked hard and did a good job, I would be OK. I would be able to support my family and live comfortably. Now, in 2016, no matter how hard I work, no matter how great a job I do, it is never enough.
I am facing the reality that I will have to go out and find a second job just to make ends meet. And at 50 years old that is not a prospect that I relish. I figured at this phase of my life I would be able to relax a little and take a small vacation once in while.
Don’t get me wrong either. I am very grateful that I have a home, a car and a job. But the reality is that I am only one or two paychecks away from losing it all if something were to happen.
In 2008 I was a self-employed residential real estate appraiser with 24 years’ experience. Over the years I had built a long list of clients. In 2011 the federal government, under Obama, decided my relationships with these mortgage companies was wrong. Legislation was passed which required an independent third was necessary to place appraisal orders. As a result, I was stripped of my entire client list. To add insult to injury I was forced to pay 25 percent of my fees to the third party.
Due to the fact I had been self-employed for 39 years, I decided to quit the profession rather than starting over from scratch. Needless to say I am not better off than I was in 2008 and it is the fault the elected federal agents who were serving under President Obama.
No, I’m not. Again for the third time my girlfriend’s insurance is going up and she has to change companies because Blue Cross is going out. It’s almost up to 300 bucks a month, mine is $250 a month.
I used to pay about $80 before Obama. I pay more in taxes, I have more regulation in the trucking business, more taxes, no write-offs — none of what has done any good. Fuel is still high and climbing. Again.
Federal and state payroll taxes are up with nothing to show for it. Our roads are so bad you can hardly drive on them.
The biggest problem is health insurance is a complete mess and costing more and is on a path to fail.
JULIA COCHRAN NOVY
Better! Gas was $4 in 2008, health insurance for our family was $1,000/month; and building had tanked.
2016: gas is $2.30 plus or minus, insurance is $400 and more housing starts than I can keep track of. Roads here are like velvet compared to Utah, Nevada, and California.
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