These have been tough times. It seems like 5 years now of tough times. Economy started slipping in 2007. Some people have given up a lot. Dreams have been crushed and things have been put on hold.
If you lost your job during this time, you felt the angst and uncertainty personally. If you are a small business owner or corporate leader during this time, you have made hard decisions and given up many things you took for granted.
Perhaps because I have been a small business owner for most of my adult life, I have seen more ebbs and flows than the average person. I have never been able to count on a dependable paycheck every two weeks. But I also made mistakes and took things for granted.
What not to take for granted
If you still have a job, start by not taking things for granted. Don’t take the paycheck for granted. Don’t assume it will always be there, because it might not be there. Take a good look at your finances. If you don’t know what you owe to who and what interest rates those debts are at, maybe it is time to find out. Use a spreadsheet and put it all down. If you don’t use a budget, it is time to create one. Don’t leave out those cash expenditures either… they add up. Do you have at least $1000 in savings? You should. The car will break. You will have unexpected expenses. When you use up that $1000, put it back in there.
Don’t assume anyone – your employer, the government, or anyone owes you anything. Take charge of your own destiny.
I don’t know when or why I woke up, but I did. I decided that our first goal is to become debt-free. It is work to get there and it will not happen over night. I stopped financing anything with credit cards. Tough decisions.
What have I given up?
- We’re operating on one car now. This means I don’t have one. If I need to go anywhere, I have to coordinate with my husband or someone else to get me from point A to point B or walk. My friend and WordPress Expert, Kim Woodbridge, shared how she lives car-free here. I am not ready to fund a car, car insurance, gas, and repairs yet. I suspect someday I will buy a used car but not now.
- Though one of my biggest goals is to remodel the kitchen, we are not ready to do that even though I pulled the old, yucky linoleum out in November 2009. My husband got ahead of me and bought the laminate flooring but I refuse to put it down in a kitchen that 20 years ago needed a complete remodel. But I will not get a loan now. I just plan on continuing to move forward paying down debt and then saving to fund my goals.
- I had given up health insurance after self paying for about 20 years but in January after 6 years of no insurance, I found a catastrophic policy that will cover a major health issue more to make sure that we wouldn’t get stuck with no income and big bills. But I have never been a run to the doctor kind of person and don’t plan to change that.
- Colleagues have asked if I am going to the career industry conferences. I had a great time in 2010 finally getting to meet my colleagues in person and learning new resume writing strategies and career coaching methods. It was a great launch for running my business, Design Resumes solo without other contracts or sources of income. But right now, I don’t see funding trips to conferences as a priority.
- Same thing with vacations. I work from home and work long hours but we have never planned in vacations or even much time off.
What causes economic problems?
Obviously, economic issues are complex and there are many causes. But I think one of the reasons we are in trouble now as a country (United States) and globally is that no one was willing to give up anything. We forgot every lesson we should have learned from people who lived through the Great Depression. We failed to plan and we failed to be willing to give up anything.
In this time of troubled economies, what lesson are you learning? Are you putting something away for your goals? Are you being proactive with your career management? Or are you taking things for granted?