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It's hitting us where it hurts

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By Calen McKinney

I'm not sure where it started, but I'll be glad to see it end.

The downturn of the economy has everyone tightening their pocketbooks and pausing before we spend our hard-earned paychecks.

I have discussed this very issue with several people, who all, like me, seem to have no idea just where the economy went sour. What exactly happened that has trickled down to making people fear they won't have a job much longer?

Why have property sales slowed? What caused the stock market to plummet?

Why did gasoline once hover at $4 a gallon but is now less than half that cost?

Why are car companies just now figuring out that people low on money won't be buying brand new cars?

Just about every newscast today seems to feature a segment on today's economic crisis, from how to stretch your pennies further and what businesses closed today to how people are living with less and which companies are doing away with a few more of their employees.

It also seems that when one cost increases, everything else follows.

If the cost of gasoline rises, people have to charge more for their deliveries to recoup that cost. That raises the cost of products so companies can continue to operate their businesses and make a profit.

The rising costs of products means consumers will have to pay for more the same essentials they always buy like bread and milk. Naturally, people will begin to buy less, which results in fewer sales. Companies don't make as much profit and are forced to close their doors.

In this day and age, I guess it's pretty fair to say that a business is successful if it's still open.

Those that do have to close, however, will cause some people to lose their jobs, which will mean they won't be making money and may not be able to buy anything.

It seems the cycle just gets worse.

Where does it end? What is it going to take to turn things around?

Locally, we have been pretty sheltered from the economic storm. We have lost a few businesses, but our unemployment rate remains fairly low.

I hope that stays true. Yes, we bounced back before. Could we do it again? Let's hope we don't have to find out.

I never really understood what a mortgage was when I was growing up. I didn't understand why interest rates mattered so much and I didn't know how dangerous credit cards are. I guess learning those lessons are a part of growing up and becoming an adult.

We have to be smart these days and not buy what we can't afford. We have to make a budget - and stick with it. I should take my own advice.

Can Americans do that, though, with all the people who want everything right now and at a super-sized quantity?

Let's hope so, or the cycle won't ever end.