Hopefully we are coming out of the greatest financial mess since the Great Depression. And as the recovery continues, I hope that you, my dear readers, are coming back financially as well. Maybe you finally got a job again. Maybe your reduced hours have been restored. If you were used to regular overtime pay, I hope those extra hours are coming back as well. And if your 401(k) match disappeared during the crisis, I hope your company is sound enough to start matching your contributions again.
In other words, I hope that as the economy recovers, you do as well.
At the same time, I have another hope or two (or more).
I hope you’ve learned that sure things such as a 40-hour work-week, mandatory overtime, or your benefit plan aren’t as sure as you thought. You’ve seen some of the misery that can befall you and your family. Build contingency plans so you are prepared and know what to do if you have to go through something like this (or worse) again.
I hope you re-examine and rebuild your emergency fund. This is your first line of defense when the “what-ifs” of life happen. You’ve seen one of those what-ifs now and know that 1-3 months of living expenses is nowhere near enough money to have saved up.
I hope you don’t spend like you used to, if you were spending too much. And I hope you don’t spend like you used to, if your new reality has less income fattening your wallet.
I hope you realize the dangers of debt. It is amazing how little you can live on if you don’t start with a boatload of debt. What is quite manageable during normal times becomes an anchor when stuff hits the fan.
I hope you can determine what your true needs are for those first “extra” dollars that start flowing in. A vacation, 3-D television, X-Box 360, kitchen remodel, or boat, are not needs no matter how much you or someone you love wants them.
I hope that you learned promises made in good times can’t always be fulfilled in the bad times. The 20th anniversary trip to Hawaii. Your teen’s first car. Graduate school. A lot of what you and your family were looking forward to may have been delayed or never become a reality. I can understand being disappointed, but take time to be thankful for what you have, realizing that others can no longer take these same things for granted.
I hope you realize it is your financial future, and you are the one who has to take responsibility for it.
This article was published under the title "Here's to a hopeful recovery in New Year"
in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on February 6, 2010.
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