What the meltdown means to me, a single mom renter

I am the ant.

When the elephants battle, it's my kind who ultimately get stomped on.

After obsessively reading about the outcome of the last decade of unchecked greed, I realized that this obscene Wall Street gaffe doesn't affect my situation in the slightest. Yet.

Because I don't have a mortgage that I HELOC'd to high heaven. I don't have a portfolio heavy with financials. I don't work for an investment bank. I don't live on my dividends. I don't own a business that needs to borrow to make payroll, and I don't have any payments on a 2007 Ford Excursion that I now can't unload as gasoline prices reach ever upward.

In other words, I'm already under the radar. Move on, please. Nothing to see here.I'm just a worker bee. I write my articles, do my gigs, and pay my rent and bills. There is absolutely no reason for me to take out a loan for anything, hence no reason I'll be needing credit any time soon. The car, a 2004 Toyota, is paid for. No plans to go back to school for another degree. At least a decade before I'll need to figure out a way to pay for my oldest daughter's college (and we're strongly considering my colleague Zac Bissonnette's suggestion of transferring to a four-year state school after two years of community college). No business plans in the works that need financing. And although home prices have indeed come down, they're still obscene here in Southern California. I can still rent twice the house for half the price of owning. No temptation there.

So far then, it's all quiet on the Western Front. But if this is indeed the financial version of World War III, my fortunes could change quickly, and for the worse.

I work for a number of media companies. And if (or when) the credit crisis hits them, then I may be in for a rough time. If the magazines I write for have to fold, a large chunk of my income goes with it. If the companies I blog and edit for decide to cut back their freelance content budget...I'm screwed. If publishers fold because no one is buying books anymore...gulp. There's no second income to fall back on. No rich parents. It's me and my wits.

Good thing I type 90 words a minute. I might one day have to test my mom's theory, back when she made me take typing in high school. "No matter how bad things get, they always need typists."

And then there's my landlord. I don't know the particulars of her investment portfolio, but I pray she's not down too much, lest she raise my rent beyond what I can afford. Well, at least my credit score is nearly perfect.

So while I'm waiting for the residual fallout from my financial betters, I'm taking precautions. I have very little debt, comparatively speaking, but what I have I'm aggressively paying down. I'm looking at my monthly budget to see what more I can pare down. I'm shopping at the cheaper markets and asking myself with every purchase whether I really, truly need the item in my hand. And I'm frittering away cash for that rainy day that surely is down the road.

Some doom and gloomers on the internets would suggest I start hoarding food and buy a gun as well. I don't think it's going to come to that. But even if it does, I plan on staying hunkered down, like I am already, hoping to fly underneath the radar and avoid the worst. If nothing else, I already know how to stretch a bag of rice and a bag of lentils for a good couple of weeks.
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