One year ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed. They filed for bankruptcy on Monday September 15, 2008 which created a domino effect that caused our current global economic crisis. Today, the pundits say the recession is essentially over. But is it?
According to CNN, only 59.2% of adults in the U.S. are currently employed. So if I have 100 friends, almost half of them would not be working! And you know what? Although I am not consciously keeping track of whether my friends are working or not, I fear this statistic may be true. On the other hand, even when we are working, some of us are not seeing the same amount of pay as before. Now let me ask you, are companies scaling back with salaries and pay in order to survive during these hard, economic times or are they taking advantage of workers’ willingness to work under any circumstance?
I talked to a recent grad who just got a job. Lucky right? Well, she has to move to another city, and since the job is a government position, the hours and pay are less than what it should be in a “normal” economy. A hotel employee told one of my relatives that he’s working three jobs these days! Imagine that! He has three jobs! But he says it’s the only way to make ends meet and he barely sleeps. As for me, I have worked this year, and I have not worked this year. I have gotten paid less than my “normal” rate, but like the two people above, I am also not complaining because it’s absolutely better to work than to not work!
I have also postponed a wedding until 2010. If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that. You know that I just hired a wedding coordinator, and we’re looking at locations for a wedding next Summer. What you don’t know…I’m still skeptical about paying for a wedding! I have the entire amount saved up already, but I still think about whether or not I want to spend that money on one night. My fiance and I think about putting that money into our retirement fund. We think about paying down more of our mortgage and refinancing. We think about buying the unsold unit next to my place, knocking down the wall, and building a bigger loft. We think about starting a small business. And sometimes, yes, we think about using the money for a wonderful party celebrating our union with our friends and family. And no, that doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of annual private school tuitions.
I think this is what this recession has taught me. You can have money or you can not have money…this recession is the BEST thing that’s happened to everyone…if you’re willing to learn and not repeat the same mistakes. My recent lesson: It’s important to think about our choices when it comes to money. Just like it’s important to think about what we put into our bodies — healthy fruits and veggies or fattening fried foods and lots of sweets — the choices we make today will affect our health, physically and financially, later down the line. Make healthy and wise choices today, and we’ll live better when we’re older.
When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t think about money. I thought I had plenty of time to pay off the debts, to save up for retirement, etc. And if I were to have a wedding in my 20’s, I would’ve done it without even thinking about it. Now, I would’ve thought about whether I should be getting married or not. But I wouldn’t have thought about the financial aspects so much. Now that I’m in my mid-30’s, I don’t have as much time to save up for retirement. And like most of you out there, I lost about 50% of my retirement account in the last year and a half. Only this last quarter, did my 401K skip back into positive territory. So I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma for awhile. I thought postponing the wedding until next year would help ease my conscience. It did for about one day. But I’m taking this one day at a time. Just like marriage, right? Right?