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For Consumers, Trump a Mixed Bag of Gains and Fears

For consumers, Trump has been a mixed bag. Markets are up, but so are anxieties.
Woman looks in her wallet for credit cards
Woman looks in her wallet for credit cards.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The Trump effect is hitting people's wallets, though not in the ways you might expect.

Some of those with money in the markets and closer ties to economic engines are seeing some boots -- but worry at what cost they come. Others lower on the economic ladder are counting their pennies and preparing for downgraded prospects.

Across the country, consumers from different walks of life say that Trump hasn't changed much in how they spend or save, but he is making them less confident in the long-term health of the economy.

A single mother

"My stock portfolio looks a lot better," said Kimberly Coerr, a 47-year-old single mother and marketing professional from McLean, Virginia, "but I don't think things will last much longer."

She's also worried that Trump's "protectionist" policies could be like sugar spikes: short-term boosts, followed by a crash.

"Forcing people to use American products... for some people that's good, the steelworkers and coal workers," she said, but the higher cost of using U.S. goods and labor "cuts both ways. Everyone likes cheap goods but it comes at a price."

An Indiana steelworker

One of those steelworkers, 44-year-old Glen Bailey of Indiana, had been planning on taking his wife on a cruise this year with the bonuses from his mill's increased production. But his mother's health took a downturn and she had to be moved into a nursing home. The cruise money went to pay for her health needs.

"I was disappointed in the healthcare fail but I don't solely blame that on Trump, rather than the system of politicians that never can seem to put the voter first and just get it done," said Bailey, who voted for Trump. He said he and his coworkers are looking forward to the "promising" prospective tax bill.

"Americans are not the most thrifty people. The more money they have the more they will spend, and thus a trickle down effect," he said.

An electrician

Business is up and customers are going for extras, said Sean Masi, a 43-year-old electrician from Connecticut. He's not spending any more, though.

"We're in an up cycle. I know we'll need that money in the down cycle," he said.

Meanwhile, after gold took a hit during the post-election stock market rally, he's seen his gold investments through an exchange-traded fund rising.

Mostly though, he doubts the ability of one individual, whether their name is Trump, Clinton or Obama, to have any kind of long-term staying power above deeper economic and cultural forces.

"There's a lot of lip service," said Masi of both Trump and politicians in general.

"I'll believe all this stuff when I see it. I heard about a wall and I don't see it. Guantanamo Bay is still open and it was supposed to be closed eight years ago," said Masi.

A Wall Street guy and small business owner

"No spending habits have changed," said Tim Ramey, a 59-year-old stock analyst and vineyard owner of the impact Trump has had on his personal finance. "It doesn't change our [family's] investment strategy in any meaningful way."

"I wouldn't be a proponent of his tax plan," said the progressive Democrat, "but I would be a beneficiary of it, since I do own a small business."

That side venture, an 83-acre vineyard in Oregon, has seen its own impact from Trump's immigration rhetoric: even though they pay above the going rate, it's been harder to find workers, who are 100% Hispanic.

"We had to give everyone a $1 an hour raise," said Ramey, on top of raises and bonuses in October. "Definitely the availability of labor has gotten tighter."

A college junior

One sector that could be taking a hit: nightlife that caters to students.

Jocelyn Keats, a psychology junior at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said she had been planning on being able to land a job in the city when she graduated. But since Trump was elected she's going out for drinks and dinners much less, focusing on saving money to prepare for the likelihood of having to move elsewhere after leaving school.

Her ability to land a job at a lab depends on whether research gets funded, and she and her friends predict those dollars are going to dry up under an administration that is looking to make cuts and professes a skepticism about established science, like the fact that the earth is experiencing climate change and rising temperatures due to human activity.

"You need money to answer real questions that are impacting people's lives," said the 25-year-old who had returned to undergraduate school after getting a degree in politics.

"That's individually disheartening because that's the work I want to do. But now more universally these are questions that may not get answered."