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Effects of the economy - is everyone feeling the crunch?

 
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lisalinnay
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Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:40 am    Post subject: Effects of the economy - is everyone feeling the crunch? Reply with quote

IMHO the economy in this country seems to be going down the toilet. Sorry to start out so crass, but I'm feeling really frustrated. Trying to make ends meet these days is getting pretty impossible.

We've been homeschooling from the onset, and I've always stayed home with our kids - working from home. Finances have always been tight for us, but we've always had enough to get by and buy the things we need. But this year, things are awful.

My husband is a full time marine deputy in the summers, and in in the colder months he is an instructor for firearms safety, and he also teaches some law enforcement and military groups. He's awsome at what he does, but during the cold months of the year classes are limited since most of it has to be held outside.

We've always relied on our other business which I primarily run - our internet sales business - to make up the rest of our income. Other years it has done well enough to cover everything, but this year it's not. Sales are down - about half or less than other years. We don't live frivolously and we don't have a lot of high bills. We live in a very small home in the country, have one car that's 8 years old, and we never go out to eat, to the movies, on shopping trips, etc. We've always bought mostly second-hand clothes. Family outings are limited to inexpensive or free outings. The most expensive thing we do is go to the zoo once or twice a year. But this fall we can't even afford to do that. With our internet sales down, and the price of necessities up so much - milk over $4 a gallon, and gas over $3 a gallon, and it seems everything else is up too - we can't even go to the zoo. In fact, I'm wondering how we'll afford winter coats and boots for the kids this year. And Christmas presents ? That's a big question.

Is this happening to a lot of families, or is it just us?

It seems like no matter what I do with the internet business - add new product lines, drop prices, etc. - nothing works. I don't have the big advertising budget that the big businesses do, so I can't advertise on sites like PriceGrabber - did you know they charge $1000 set up plus cost per click? Businesses who really need their service can't afford it. The big ones who can afford it, don't even need it. This world is so backwards.

Our main distributor is even in trouble. One of the big superstores talked them into buying a "ton" of LeapFrog stuff for them, and now the superstore isn't coming through and buying it. I'm trying to help my distributor out by offering all of it at wholesale prices on our site. My distributor has always come through for me. I hope I can come through for them. The way I see it, it's time for damage control. Everyone needs to start lending a hand and helping each other. There's no room for greed.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I'll stop now as this post is getting quite long. I look forward to hearing others' opinions, suggestions, and experiences.
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ncmom
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Joined: 13 Jul 2007
Posts: 321
Location: Eastern NC

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You aren't being crass, it is true! Our economy is sinking further and further into the toilet everyday. We outsource everything so there are no jobs and then raise the price of all the imports because of gas and greed. My husband works in shipping and we were talking about how much gas prices were affecting food prices just the other day. I think everyone is feeling it. I know we are. Between gas and groceries and now a baby due in a few weeks. I don't know what we are going to do. My kids all have b-days within a month or so of Christmas too. It is definitely tight! We don't go anywhere that isn't local and we try to make it within walking distance and free. I cut every corner their is to cut and then cut those corners again. Kids only get clothes from yard sales, good will, clearance racks or something I make. I even buy my meat on the clearance shelf. I start buying Christmas presents for next year now and they only get a few. It may not be as much fun as the neighbors but the love that your kids get from you is more important than a bunch of gifts anyway.

Eventually something will have to give, or at least that is my hope. We need to force the oil companies to charge less for oil. You can only spend so much money and these oil big wigs have more than their great grandchildren could spend.

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything but in my opinion it is all about control. The more we rely on our government for tax breaks because of high prices and taxes and the more we rely on social programs because we can't afford medical care or food the more control the government has over us. We need to do something as a country. But that is just my little head thinking freely. OOPS!

Ethanol is also going to be a problem. The farmers who were growing feed corn for the animals are now selling it for Ethanol production. So expect meat and egg prices to go up too. OH and if you have a car that runs on Ethanol check out the MPG. We have one and if we use it our MPG goes down dramatically so we actually fill up more and it ends up costing us a lot more in the long run. So there isn't even a choice for us. We go with what gets us further for less money and in this case it is gasoline.
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lisalinnay
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Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ncmom wrote:

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything but in my opinion it is all about control. The more we rely on our government for tax breaks because of high prices and taxes and the more we rely on social programs because we can't afford medical care or food the more control the government has over us. We need to do something as a country. But that is just my little head thinking freely. OOPS!

My husband and I have talked about that very thing - it seems like that's what they're going for. They want everyone to start relying on the government - for eventual total control. Well, they won't get us.

I don't see any tax breaks coming either. Our state, Michigan, just passed the biggest tax increase in Michigan history. It's only going to get worse.

As far as corn now sold for ethanol production rather than cattle, they're always making new problems by trying to solve another, which won't work anyway. It's this backwards world, full of greed and arrogance.
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iamnettie
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Joined: 02 Feb 2007
Posts: 150
Location: Kansas City, MO

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear you on the tightness of things. We seem to keep afloat but bearly. I just keep praying the something will give. WE are just starting our own family business and it is slow but I know slow and steady will win the race.

Hope things lighten up for you some soon.
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Theodore
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 2122
Location: Missouri, US

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's simply a lack of confidence. The housing market dying has cut a lot of value and caused people and businesses to act conservatively, including the banks, which don't want to loan money any more for fear of not getting it back. Since circulating money has an expansion effect, money not circulating has a compression effect, and the economy isn't doing so well as a result.

On the plus side, housing prices should stabilize eventually, and the gov't has talked a bunch of major banks into teaming together to create a short-term business loan fund (something that businesses absolutely need to stay running but haven't been able to access as much the past year or so due to the crunch), so things should hopefully improve a bit on that end. Given, gas prices aren't likely to improve, and the asinine emphasis on ethanol as a fuel will likely continue to keep food prices high (unless consumers revolt and decide they want cheap food more than cheap ethanol), but it's not high gas or food prices that has been killing the economy, but rather lack of fluidity. If confidence improves, so will sales.

On a personal note - you might try looking into Google AdWords, putting one of each item up on Amazon and Ebay to build consumer awareness, advertising on our groups area, etc. Even a small budget can go a long way if you use it in the right places.

---------

ADDED NOTE ABOUT ETHANOL AS A FUEL: Ethanol burns cleanly, but it's also a very good solvent, meaning it strips all the crud off the inside of fuel tanks if they aren't cleaned 10x as often (thus adding cost at the pump). Also, corn-based ethanol costs nearly as much energy to produce as it gives when useed, so it doesn't actually help the environment overall - it's only sugarcane ethanol that's energy-efficient. So using corn to produce ethanol only really serves to raise food prices.

You can, however, use small amounts of ethanol in an injection system to reduce knocking and improve compression ratios, meaning a much smaller engine can produce more power. This use of ethanol makes sense, but doesn't require ethanol on a large scale (you'd have a small secondary tank of ethanol and fill it up once a month), so the corn producers lobby is of course not interested.
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lisalinnay
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Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theodore wrote:

On a personal note - you might try looking into Google AdWords, putting one of each item up on Amazon and Ebay to build consumer awareness, advertising on our groups area, etc. Even a small budget can go a long way if you use it in the right places.

Have you looked into the cost of Google AdWords? 50 to 75 cents per click in the software market. That can add up to hundreds of dollars a day. I know you can set limits, but I can't afford $50.00 a month right now and that wouldn't even get us very much placement. They show your ads depending on how much you're willing to spend. Not to mention, I can't afford to spend $5.00 on a package of underwear right now - let alone pay for 10 - "click happy" bargain hunters. Do you know how many people visit websites for 5 seconds and leave? We get hundreds of them a month.

We used to have an eBay store, but we left due to their high fees. When we started out, it was pretty good, but pricing competition got so bad, and eBay's fees got so high, eBay was getting 80% of the profit from most sales. It wasn't worth the time and stress it took to keep it going. By the time we left eBay, things weren't selling very well there either - even at really low prices. We even had a 99.9% positive rating with over 4000 transactions.

Amazon isn't taking any new sellers now before the holidays, so that's out too. I checked into it last week.

Any other ideas?
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Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth. . .


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Theodore
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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Location: Missouri, US

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't try to mass sell through Ebay, the object is to keep one item on Ebay at all times so as to show up at the top of Google's results when people search (then point them to your site in the item description). It costs next to nothing to list one item at a time, and if it sells, you're making at least a tiny profit. View it as search engine optimization at no cost to you.

Amazon stuff also shows up at the top of Google, but sounds like that is out. Again, it's the placement, not the sale, that's important.

With Google AdWords, commonly searched for terms are ridiculously expensive, but if you can find some more specific phrase that people are searching for but the competition doesn't want to bother with, you can spend a small amount of money and still get a decent response. The more specific the phrase, the fewer the number of clicks per day, but the more likely it is that each click will be a good sales prospect. Given, if your advertising budget is less than $50 a month, forget this idea.

What you really need to do is find someone with deep pockets to invest Smile
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StellarStory
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Joined: 15 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm feeling the pinch.

*nods*
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twiggybumble
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Joined: 25 May 2007
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We, too, are feeling the crunch here at my place. I think just about everyone is.

I can rationalize the gas to food prices. However, I can't stop seeing the dollar signs in front of my eyes when I think of the money being spent abroad. Of course, this is neither here nor there. It's in someone's pocket, no doubt.

Have you considered quitting your business, or putting it on hold? I don't know if that is even a feasible option for you, but I am assuming that running the business itself is taking up monetary resources for you. I do understand the constraints of advertising, and regretfully, I don't have any fresh options to offer you on that front.

I hope it improves for you! Smile

Note on Christmas- I personally don't buy my son many gifts for Christmas, for a few reasons. Firstly, I feel that the commercialism takes away from the point of Christmas in the first place. Secondly, we've always lived on a shoe-string, and I want him to be appreciative of what he does recieve 365 days a year. I do a lot of candle making, soap making, flower arrangements, bath salts, and paintings as gifts for people. In some ways, this can be more expensive, but I usually budget a certain amount of money every so often for supplies. I know having this attitude towards "gift-giving" has caused my son to use his creative talents rather than feeling he has to "buy" presents for people he loves.
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StellarStory
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are talking to me, my business does not take much to operate and brings in a little money. So no that is not an option.
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twiggybumble
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, Stellar, I was talking to lisalinnay. Smile
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StellarStory
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, okay, sorry I misunderstood!
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