Lessons from a Recession

Who says recessions are all bad? From my chair, I have noticed a silver lining through the pain and heartache people are experiencing. In the midst of the financial chaos, many are finding a new beginning. Could it be that people are realizing there are financial habits in their lives that have been destructive and need to change? Somehow, there seems to be peace and healing going on in the lives of many families as they face the realities of years of over indulgence and financial leveraging.

I know people are suffering. All too often I am having gut wrenching conversations with families who are hurting financially, relationally, and emotionally as a result of financial downfalls. Many of the people I have talked to ultimately find peace and acceptance and growth through the process of deleveraging and developing habits of living within their means. I have learned a great deal from those who have used their painful experiences to create a better future. The lessons they have taught me are both powerful and insightful, and are certainly worth sharing. Below is a summary of the top ten lessons from my notes written during countless interviews:

  1. Recessions cause you to be more creative and frugal.
  2. Tough times force you to make difficult decisions and give up material luxuries.
  3. You learn that the most important things in life are relational not material.
  4. You realize that living beyond your means is not sustainable.
  5. It reminds you that real wealth isn’t about the stuff you own.
  6. You learn that cash flow management and cash reserves are the most important components in your personal finances.
  7. If you are still employed, you appreciate your employer even more.
  8. It is wise to spend less than you make and save at least 10% of your income.
  9. Tough times can further develop a spirit of gratitude and appreciation for what you have vs. continually focusing on what you want.
  10. At the end of the day, regardless of whether there is a paycheck each month, or money in the bank, family is what matters. Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want at the moment.

While you may not be able to control what happens with the economy, you can control your own mental focus. Usually, this determines whether you feel anxiety and fear or peace and hope. The many who have grown through tough circumstances have found that by releasing the pressures of living an unsustainable life, they discover the possibility of a new future. Difficult decisions must be faced. Rather than avoid making the tough choices, I encourage you to face them head on, without delay.

It is my hope that each of you who are hurting will find peace and comfort in your circumstance. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. I appreciate your friendship and the trust you place in me as your mortgageplanner.

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