I think that we can all agree that, in spite of all the happy talk from the media and government officials, we're in a Depression.
Seeing the stuff I see every day just confirms it for me. I know many people aren't out and about everyday, but I am. Roughly half of the customer accounts I deal with are in malls or are malls themselves, and compared to what I saw in the Roaring 90's, some of the places are turning into ghost towns.
There are many "seasonal" or "temporary" stores that are being allowed to open up shop inside of up scale malls. This was once unthinkable. These establishments detracted from the shopping experience as some of these stores are ramshackle affairs whose appearance oozes all the allure of a hooker with an eye-patch.
One mall I frequently visit even opened a foreign currency exchange in the middle of the common area. Makes sense if you consider this.
Every day, when the mall opens, quietly a group of people appears out in the common area hauling luggage (not kidding). Some nurse their coffee while hammering away on their laptops availing themselves of the mall's free wi-fi network and power from the omni-present floorboxes. The silent and hunched bodies, afraid of being noticed by mall security, add to the air of desperation wafting upon the cool conditioned breeze from many of those quietly huddled there.
We went through another round of lay-offs at work. Thank God if this ever happens to me, I'll have my own tools and can freelance. Most of the guys use company provided tools, but I buy my own. The stress on everyone from local managers to the guys in the field is immense. I've been trying to de-stress, and unwind because of all the craziness going on.
I've been imbibing, perhaps too frequently, in the evening. My Portuguese neighbors have introduced me to Licor Beirao. Good stuff. That alternated with Pisco has some interesting effects. If you buy Pisco, buy the Peruvian version (not Chilean) and get "Puro" ( made from one grape variety). The Chilean variety has this kind of sickly yellow color to it as it is aged in wood casks. The flavor of the wood carries over heavily into the final product. The Peruvian Pisco is aged in glass and carries nothing but the original flavor.
This layoff was a result of one of the world's largest retailers deciding to take some of their maintenance and installation in-house. I've seen and had to fix a lot of the stuff their in-house teams have done, and I think they're foolish for doing this, but I wish them luck. There was one store that the fire department threatened to shut down because of what their in-house team had done.
I love panicked phone calls from store managers. Sounds like cash registers.
Wow, I almost forgot what the whole point of this post was. Must be the Pisco.
How many of you have "rewards" type credit cards? Think about redeeming those points for something now. They may not be there later ...... or maybe soon.
Do you have gift cards scattered around the house? You really might want to think about using those now. If things go south, they might only have value for making keys for Medeco M3 Locks. Have cards you'll never use? Check out Plastic Jungle and Card Pool to sell or exchange your cards.
Traveled outside of the US and have a stash of foreign currency? Unless you're planning to flee to one of those countries, you might want to convert that back into US currency and go buy some bulk food. Some larger malls offer currency exchanges at their concierge desks as do many banks. Pick up your phone and give them a call.
Do you have gift certificates or incentive awards from your employer? Time to use them.
Does your employer partner with other companies who offer significant discounts? You might want to check the program out and see if there is anything you can use. Don't forget restaurant gift cards. I recently found one that had a $50.00 face value for $5.00! That's cheaper than eating at home! Unfortunately, there are none of these restaurants in my area.
Ummm...you didn't hear this from me, but if you travel for business, a little judicious shopping for restaurant gift cards before you leave on your trip could pay off when you do your expenses. Or taxes. Sarbanes-Oxley be damned.
No partner discounts? Check out Restaurant.Com.
That's kinda like using your rewards credit card to buy one dollar coins from the mint, and depositing the coins to pay your credit card bill (US Mint pays the shipping). It's nice that your credit card often gives you checks to use in lieu of your credit card in each monthly statement. Guess the mint forgot about that.