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How Has The Recession Changed Your Life for the Better?

As I’ve said before, I try to avoid writing excessively about the recession. I don’t believe that ruminating on lost jobs, retirement savings, and credit opportunities will fix anything—let alone make us feel in any better. In fact, I think the media’s obsession with economic horror stories is the last thing we all need. That said, I want to know: Has the recession has changed your life for the better? How?

It’s a cheesy corporate cliché, but I do believe in seeing set-backs as opportunities. Therefore, I feel that when we face financial hardship, we have the opportunity to change for the better. I know, we may not recognize positive changes when we are slashing our monthly budget, staring down at a pink slip, or realizing that we’ll have to pay bills late next month.

Perhaps, however, losing that job made you realize you were in the wrong career path anyway. Maybe you have been denied a loan recently and recognized that you need to take steps to stop relying on credit. Perhaps having fewer hours at work has allowed you to spend more time with family, friends, or doing something you love.

Does any of this apply to you? Let me start by sharing how the recession has changed my life for the better.

My story

A few months I faced extreme uncertainty at a job I had only just begun. There were two rounds of layoffs. Although the company was profitable, it wasn’t profitable enough for its creditors’ likes. Understandably, I began going to work everyday as if it might be my last.

Then, last month, to many people’s surprise, I made the decision to leave work voluntarily and begin working for myself almost full-time. Not only did I leave behind an uncertain day job, but also a four hour daily round-trip commute.

Today, I earn revenue from my blogs, some freelance writing and marketing clients, and a part-time job I took mostly to get affordable health insurance. So, I’m not fully my own boss yet, but close.

Sure, I gave up some money, but I took back twenty hours of my time every week that I spent in my car.I’m happier now than I have been in a long time. Still, I’m facing many new stresses.

Paying my own salary is a constant struggle, especially in this economy. I have had to make personal budget cuts that I never have before. Still, I feel, deep down in my gut, that I am doing the right thing. I am a better person because of the changes I recently made, and those changes were instigated by the turning economy.

What about you?

How has your life changed because of the recession? Have you been able to make those changes positive in any way? Please share; tell us how!

About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Hi David,

    I’ve been really focusing on cutting back spending for a few years now. As a young adult, it used to be a bummer to decline invites to the bar or a concert since it just wasn’t in the budget. I find that the worse the economy gets, the less everyone else is spending. It really reaffirms what we started doing before most of the people we know, and removes the awkwardness of having to say no to spending related activities. Now we seem to spend alot more time with friends and family at someone’s house and don’t have to spend any money.

    Like the blog, keep up the good work.

  2. Hi David,
    Thanks for starting such a great topic. To tell you a bit about our situation, I work in public affairs at a local hospital, don’t make much money, but my job carries our family’s health insurance and that’s a wonderful thing. My husband is a self-employed woodworker. He builds fabulous libraries, kitchens etc. for very rich people. We began seeing signs of a recession a few years ago – when rich-beyond-comprehension people become nervous, you’d better listen!

    We began buckling down early, paid off credit cards and didn’t take expensive vacations so we’d have an emergency fund if /when the time came, halted a huge expansion of our house, eating in a lot more and the list goes on.

    The recession has helped me in these ways:

    1. I drive an 11-year-old car and am proud of it! It gets me where I need to go and that’s all a car is supposed to do.

    2. We visit family more. They’re a great bunch of people we love very much, and now our 9-year-old son knows exactly how his parents became nuts! :o)

    3. I rekindled my love affair with nature by growing a vegetable garden … this kills two birds with one stone!

    4. Our family plays board games at home instead of going out to dinner so much. I used to believe going out gave you the chance to get to know each other without the work of cooking at home. I now believe it’s more of a distraction. We can still order a pizza pretty inexpensively and enjoy each other’s company and ideas without all the distraction.

    5. I thought I was frugal before, but I give a lot more thought to my purchases now. “Do I need it? What purpose will it serve? Will I enjoy and use it forever?” Most of the time, the answer is, “No.”

    6. I’ve gotten to know my neighbors much better. Who knew that a party is just a bunch of people who each bring something to an agreed upon meeting place, usually one of their houses and just enjoy each other?

    7. Our one big expense this past year was to get our son Dylan a dog. He’s a mutt we rescued on the Internet. He cost $475 to bring home. His first vet bill was $500 (notice my use of the word ‘first’) to get rid of his fleas, tics and Giardia parasite.

    When he arrived, he was so skinny, we fed him nothing but ground beef and rice for the first three months. Now it costs 60-bucks per month to feed him organic dog food and that doesn’t include treats and dental chews.

    Just like our son, he needs toys to keep him active. I’m not so sure he needs them, but he definitely loves them. Besides, his toys don’t cost nearly as much as our son’s!

    All in all, in the four months we’ve owned him, I think we’ve spent about $2,500 on Comet and that does include a pair of Juicy Couture and Anne Klein shoes I found on sale and he destroyed.

    It’s been worth every penny too! Our Dylan has never been happier or had a better friend, and he really has made our family whole. It warms my soul when he walks (runs) past me to hug his dog and tell him how much he missed him that day. The dog has solved issues no fish or snake or lizard or frog ever could. He’s given a 9-year-old boy an appreciation for another life – A reason to never be bored or lonely. Dylan now belongs to something that needs him every day and worships him no matter what.

    So, in some strange way, this recession has brought more than fear, stress, and more fear. It’s brought a family who thought they were doing pretty well before even closer to each other.

  3. Thanks so much for your awesome response, Ty! Glad to hear your decisions are paying off. Your story is definitely an inspiration!

  4. I bow down humbly in the presence of such geartsnes.