‘We will have a special dinner if the meat goes on sale’
I am a 56 year old female who has been out of work since early Feb. 2009. I worked with an educational travel organization located here in Spokane, WA. I live 25 miles west of downtown. My significant other is a 60 year old male on disability retirement from the federal government (not SSI).
Having run out of unemployment in Jan, 2011, I’ve been supporting myself by taking cash out of a Roth IRA. I will soon deplete it. We have been economizing as much as possible by not traveling, but even to go into town to get groceries is a 60 mile round trip.
We will not be celebrating the holiday. We haven’t given each other gifts for Christmas or birthdays since I was laid off. We will have a special dinner if the meat goes on sale.
Luckily, we don’t have children, so we don’t have to explain why there is no tree, decorations or gifts.
The holidays are stressful, especially if it snows as that means shoveling and clearing. As it is, we keep the thermostat very low and light a fire during the daytime as the temps have been in the 20s, and the heater is set at 62. At night we keep it set to 55. We are luckier than Spokanites, as we live so far out in the country that we can cut our own firewood, and our electricity provider is a co-op and not Avista (who requests rate hikes at least once a year). Propane to heat the house is our biggest expense, but our provider tries hard to deliver only if the price per gallon has dropped a little.
Gasoline is running currently at $3.48/gallon locally, which has gone down since Thanksgiving. This is another reason we try hard to make only one trip into town per week.
Since I’ve been out of work, I’ve volunteered at the Humane Society, went back to school to try to upgrade my skills, and have been helping a friend with breast cancer get to her doctor appointments since she doesn’t drive. (Her husband drives a school bus, and his pay is deducted if he takes time off).
The unemployment rate here in Spokane is still close to 9%, and even with the extra schooling, I still have not been able to find a job. There have been weeks where there are no jobs for which I can apply. I try to stay positive, but as money gets tighter, I get more worried about the future. The holidays just make it that much harder.
Pat Sibley; Spokane, WA