Friday, June 8, 2012

Making Cents of the Economy

The economy was booming, our house, bought in 1990 during the height of the Pugest Sound sales boom, had increased in value substantially.

The recession and realestate collapse hasn't been particularly good to our family. We were already living as an extended family, my son and his wife having moved in when he went to graduate school and expecting a baby. That was nearly nine years ago. My husband, Dave, hasn't worked in two and a half years now and although he has retirement income that would be ample if our son could afford to move his family into a place of their own and if we could sell our home in Gig Harbor and move to our home at the ocean. Instead we have been struggling to make ends meet with rent from my son, Dave's retirement and my rather insubstantial salary as a school district classified employee. Now Dave has a chance at a job, but it will mean splitting up the family.
In 2006 Dave retired from the FAA as a controller/briefer and went to work for Lockheed Martin which took over the operation of the FAA’s flight services all over the country. Due to automation we knew that part of Lockheed’s plan was to close many of the stations, but the workers at Seattle Flight Service, where Dave had worked since 1989, were assured that Seattle would be a "legacy site." Prior to that Dave had been at other flight services in Bellingham, Los Angeles and Bakersfield.
We prepared for the influx of money his retirement (the equivalent of half of his salary) would bring while he continued to work for Lockheed. We wanted to be smart and not spend that money. Raising a large family we’d never had a great deal of disposable income and we wanted to be smart.
The economy was booming, our house, bought at the height of the Puget Sound buying frenzy in 1990, had increased in value considerably so in addition to funneling Dave’s retirement checks into mutual funds, we were convinced to pull out our sixteen years of equity to "make our money work for us." And although Dave and his compatriots were not particularly pleased with the way Lockheed was running flight service (Dave called me from Prescott, AZ where he’d gone for training on the new software program they’d cobbled together, sounding like a kid calling from summer camp wanting mom to come get him.) life went on pretty much as it had for sixteen years.
Then the perfect storm happened. I need not remind you what happened in the fall of 2008. Scary, but we’d be okay. Dave’s plan was to work until he was 63 or 65 which would give us a nice chunk of money with which to buy a 5th wheel and begin traveling with my daughter Amy. In late 2009 Lockheed announced that they would be closing Seattle Flight Service. Although the employees unionized (much to the disgust of Lockheed) and attempted to make the company make good on their promise not to close the Seattle station, it was for naught and in January 2009 Seattle Flight Station closed. Employees were offered positions at one of the three truly legacy sites located in AZ, TX and VA. With aging parents and a son and his family living with us, that wasn’t in the cards.
It sits there still, just as it was, with the potential of reopening and for a while Dave nurtured a fantasy of Lockheed seeing the error of its ways. He’d be ready to come back. Lockheed did attempt to get him to come back—repeatedly. Certified letters arrived from time to time, but our situation hadn’t changed and having Dave go to work elsewhere while Amy and I remained in Gig Harbor hardly seemed feasible. Dave had unemployment and was enjoying not making the 45 mile commute between Seattle and Gig Harbor. Tighten the belts, we thought, the economy will rebound. Ha!
Yesterday a our daughter-in-law signed for a certified letter from Lockheed Martin offering Dave a job. The catch is it would be in Prescott, AZ. It is not the first such offer he has had and which we dismissed as being out of the question. We have elderly parents in Washington and I am an only child. At least Dave has six brothers to help their parents. We thought it was just not feasible to set Dave up in an apartment in Prescott and keep our household here going. But I've been asking for an answer to our financial problem and this seems like it might be the answer the universe is offering. We looked at apartment rentals in Prescott and discovered that compared to his potential salary, he could live rather cheaply there and replenish some of what's been drain from our coffers.
It is not as if we are poverty stricken (as a single mother I've been there and done that and know how to make a penny scream), but the timing of the realestate collapse and the economy going south could not have been timed worse for us. If Dave decides to make this move and can get his ducks in a row by the 18th, it will buy us some time. Time for the economy to improve enough that maybe people will start buying houses in our area again and won't mind paying a $4 toll in the bargain. Time for my son and his wife to find a home nearer to his work and less dependent on us. Dave has to talk to our financial advisor to see if it is feasible, get a drug test and physical and fill out the packet of paperwork Lockheed sent with the job offer.

No comments: