Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Staying put

I got some bad news today - my biggest client, the one I spend the vast majority of my days working for, has decided to terminate the account because of the recent financial meltdown. This actually has quite a trickle-down effect for me, as I'll explain briefly.

As you know, I've been planning to buy a house next year when my apartment lease runs out. In August, I was talking seriously with my family about the possibility of all buying one together, but it didn't get very far because I don't think we're ready for that yet. So I was pretty much ready to start looking for a house for just myself, so I can get away from annoyingly noisy neighbors and start building some equity instead of paying ungodly amounts of money for rent that I'll never see again.

However, as everyone knows, in September we had the Wall Street disaster, which is still lingering in the form of tightened credit markets and stricter mortgage requirements. In a nutshell, buying a house these days requires a larger downpayment and more security in the form of co-signers or large cash reserves that I simply don't have. Consider this story in the New York Times about young couples getting help from their families to buy real estate:

"Mixing Money and Family" - Oct. 20, 2008

Now, it is entirely possible that the market can turn around, but I'm not betting on that to happen anytime soon, despite the efforts of our elected officials. Add the fact that I have a Certificate of Deposit expiring at the end of this month that I was going to use as part of my downpayment, but at this point it seems wiser to renew it and just stay in the apartment for another year. I would have to give my intention to vacate in January if I was going to leave in March when my lease is up to avoid breaking my lease, and I just can't feel secure enough with my job and the economy to make that leap.

Besides all the hard financial realities I'm dealing with, there's also the instability of my family situation. I don't know what's going to happen with all of us, and it seems unwise to make any big decisions when things are so unsettled. While I don't feel like I need to wait on them per se, in the face of all the other issues, it seems best to delay the decision until everything else improves and I'm really ready to make the jump, and then reevaluate where I am with my relationships and life in general.

I try not to worry too much about the future, but I really hope I don't have to starting looking for a new job on top of all this - that would suck. I've never been a job-hopper - my last two jobs averaged about 7 years each, and I've been here for 2 years and three months so far. I might be getting worked up for nothing, but always best to be prepared when the signs aren't favorable.