My husband and I read everyday about families loosing one job and people being unemployed: to both our furtune and misfortune, we are not in danger of loosing our jobs. However, the situation is no less stressful, because we both own our own small businesses. My husband, Steve, is a realtor who up until the past year, had done very well working with new home construction projects and investors who bought and sold properties surrounding the University of Notre Dame (we live in South Bend, IN). I own a small women's retail store, called Flourish Boutique (www.FlourishBoutique.com
). I opened the store in early 2008, and it continues to do fairly well, especially considering the economy and retail environment...but our personal situation is unbeleivably stressful. I left my preofessional job in 2007, in order to open my store, which has always been my dream. We used a lot of our personal savings in order to start the store. At the time, leaving my job did not seem financially ill advised: my husband was making six figures several times over. The store kicked off to a great start, and things were a little tighter but fine....but then in early fall, the real estate marked started drying up fast: my husband income essentially dropped off a cliff. It was shocking and scary but we have several of our own rental properties and thought we would be ok. Plus, several builders still owed us commissions on properties that had been put under contract earlier in the year, but would not close for a month or two when they were completed. But, when the time came to close those properties, the builders under their own financial ruin were not able to pay us the money they owed us (to the tune of over $40,000). And, at the same time two of our rental properties were suddenly left vacant. What little savings we had left was being eaten up quickly. We have adjusted our lefistyle big time: we cut our private nanny, we cut our cable tv, dinners out, vacations, manicures, nice haircuts, all shopping, gym memberships, and more...but the pace at which we have cut our luxuries and things we used to take for granted never seems to catch up to the pace at which our income keeps falling. We are getting behind in bills now, but we are working hard to fix our mounting problems. We are in the process of trying to sell our home. My store continues to do fairly well, but personally my life has changed beyond recongnition. When our car leases come up in a few months we plan on scaling down to one car ( we currently drive a 2004 Hyundai Sonata and a 2004 Nissan Murano). We hope to take our car payments from collectively $660/mo down to zero by paying cash for one or two old but hopefully safe vehicles. If our house sells too, then we hope to reduce our housing costs from $2,000/mo to $1,000/mo. Ultimately, I don't really have anyone thing I have done to help up get through, or an "answer" but I can say that despite the struggle and the cutbacks, we are the same people...the same family....it is very hard, and there are nights I lay awake crying myself to sleep over the stress of the bills, and what we have left behind...but then I see my son's face in the morning and there is peace in that. My advice is to cut, cut, cut to all the families facing similar problems. My husband and I have read and are trying to follow the wisdom of Dave Ramsey, a financial advisor who is big on getting rid of debt. Everyday, my husband and I are scrambling to still make a profit at work (even though it is greatly reduced from before) and at the same time make hard, personal decisions to protect our family: we keep cutting and cutting, and hopefully at some point we will catch our income up to our costs. Hopefully.