Finance: Americans Adapt to the 'New Normal'

We own a small manufacturing business, about $1.5 million annual sales. We have not taken a paycheck since before Christmas, (living on retirement savings) sold our toys at losses to reduce payments and restructured bank commitments to survive. All with NO HELP from the FED.

It's all about cutting back, not standing there with your hand out.

-- Tom Teckam, Goodman, Wis.

Banding Together to Save

Joining forces with your family member, friend or neighbor can be a way to persevere though any crisis and that's exactly what some Americans are doing to cope with their thinner wallets: One Georgia man shares money-saving tips with his friends, a New York woman is taking advantage of a barter system with her neighbors and an Ohio mother and daughter are helping each other make ends meet.

I have been frugal most of my life so cutting back isn't new for me. I think one of the biggest things people can do to help each other though is to share. Before letting something expire that I know I am not going to consume see if someone else can use or would like what you have.

I have always shared coupons with others, I take advantage of buy one get one free especially if it's a product I know I need. ... I appreciate when I have been given tickets to different sporting events. I will call friends and see if they would like to go and get as many people people to go that the tickets will cover.

Every time I see anything aired on TV for a free coupon or product I text my friends and family and tell them to take advantage of free products. ... It's all about people sharing information with each other that is making this era in time a little less stressful for me.

-- Semela Wallace, Atlanta

The good, old barter system is alive and well in our neighborhood (the government can't tax if no money changes hands). My vegetable garden is larger than normal so garden produce will be traded for farm produce such as meat and milk. We eat more wild game because country folk can survive.

-- Nadine Crawfrord, Waterville, N.Y.

The Family Way

I am a retired teacher who lives with her single daughter and teenage granddaughter. Economic conditions make this arrangement work for all of us.

My daughter will graduate from college this year. She works full-time and attends evening classes while I tend the home front providing full time "Grandma" supervision, transportation,cooking, etc. There isn't any way that either of us could afford to live without combining our incomes and talents.

The economic conditions and lack of job opportunities around Cincinnati have changed our future plans. Initially, after graduation, she had planned to stay in Ohio and advance with her present company. Now, the company is struggling and cutting benefits to the point that she is making less than she made last year. ... Canceled are all plans for purchasing a house. We worry about not having enough savings to meet emergencies and about the deteriorating social and economic conditions that surround us. My daughter laments the loss of opportunity for college graduates this year and sometimes resents the fact that she has spent seven years investing time and money and is now confronted with the present economy when she has to repay her loans.

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