We have heard it said a million and one times since the start of the recession: "This is the greatest recession since the Great Depression." This recession period has also been called the "Great Recession." Despite the 24 hour news coverage of every aspect of the recession, from the housing bust to the loss of jobs to the Oil Spill, the question that remains in my mind is, has the Great Recession had a permanent impact on how Americans spent their money, save and invest their income and view debt? In other words, will the recession have a positive impact on Americans' spending habits once the recession is over (technically, it's already over, according to the experts).

In my opinion, the recession will have the same effect as a yo-yo dieter; and, of course, everyone knows the symptoms and the consequent effects. There is an event that snaps the dieter into action--for example seeing a picture of oneself at an event and being jolted into the reality of just how much weight has been gained. Next, the dieter researches a variety of diet plans and decides which one fits. Then for months the dieter diligently follows the diet, sees results and vows to continue the healthy lifestyle, eating habits and exercise---and for a while is very successful at maintainance. But, slowly and unbeknownst to the dieter, the healthy habits are practiced less and less as day-to-day life takes precedent and the dieter isn't "dieting" anymore. Before you know it, the dieter has gained the weight back, is depressed again and doesn't even realize how he got back to square one. This is how I view most people who have changed their financial habits as a result of the recession.

Being financially responsible has to be a permanent mindset. It's not something you can just turn on and off or else you will find yourself right back where you started from. Just like I've known people who have lost weight only to gain it back again, I've also known people who have used their income tax return to pay off all of their debt and even go so far as to cut up their credit cards. But, somehow, they always end up right back in debt.

I never had a lot of debt and it was never really "bad debit". Although I would sometimes carry a small balance on credit cards, it was never more than I could pay off with one lump payment if I chose. Any other debt was mortgage and student loans, so, naturally, I thought I was doing just fine. Despite being fine, by most people's standards, in regards to debt, something clicked with me and I felt I needed to change. Instead of wanting to be just 'fine' in regards to debt, I decided to become completely debt-free FOR LIFE.

I still have not identified what my 'Ah Ha' moment was, but somehow, someway I got 'IT'. Whatever 'IT' is, it's what I feel the majority of the temporary, "only financially responsible because of the recession people are lacking. It is that lack of 'IT' that will, more than likely, place them right back into debt when this recession and effects have passed.

Can you identify your 'Ah Ha' moment?

10 Comments:

  1. searching for salvation said...
    I believe exactly what you say. As soon as the economy picks up people will be back to their living beyond their means. Will everyone? no Did some people learn to live on less than they make? yes...so in essence that is a success. Unfortunately the majority will revert to their old ways.....Not me though. :)
    Annienygma said...
    I agree with you totally!

    I do not think it has lasted long enough or been severe enough for it to make a lasting impression after so many years of excess.

    One friend hard hit with unemployment and financial woes looked at me the other day and told me that I should go to school just long enough to qualify for a student loan to buy a laptop I was discussing, mentioning that he was going to do it himself! I was appalled to say the least!

    Others are still spending every penny they get as it comes in on items however frivolous with the only main difference being that they have a lot less to spend.

    It will go back to business as usual and as a nation we will crash harder before enough learn their lessons about overspending, I'm afraid. :(
    Annienygma said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Everyday Tips said...
    I also think people will go back to their old ways. Many have worked the system to their advantage even, which I doubt happened during the Depression.

    For me, my AHA moment came when we borrowed money for our wedding almost 20 years ago. We never carried debt after that point again.
    Young Mogul said...
    Needless to say, I agree with all 3 of you.

    @Annienygma:
    I have a friend whose cousin stays in school for the exact reason you mentioned--she lives off of student loans. My friend told me her cousin had her tuition covered entirely from pell grant, but still took out a loan and kept the entire amount, then she still got tuition reimbursement from her job and kept that money also. Then she uses school expenses on her tax return to get a larger refund.

    So many people are using higher ed as a legal racket with no intention of paying off the loans. But they have no idea how ruthless the federal government is when they are owed money--garnishments, intercepted tax refunds, seizing money from bank accounts, etc. She's in for a very rude awakening.
    Annienygma said...
    Apparently as long as you are in school you don't have to pay on your loans or something and my one friend is taking advantage of that because he is still paying on loans he took out over 20 years ago--he says that he owes so much that he has to stay in school because he cannot afford the payments!

    Considering the fact that his mother has a Master's and still can't get a job I think I shall pass on the education bandwagon. Why go to school when I am making a perfectly good living doing what I am?
    searching for salvation said...
    I had a buddy tell me he would file bankruptcy to avoid the student loans....mean while after twenty minutes of laughing...he asked me why i laughed...I told him federal student loans wont be dismissed in bankruptcy. Needless to say he is in debt up to his eyeballs and hasnt worked a day in his life.
    Young Mogul said...
    @Salvation:
    Although I can't say for certain, I believe the person I referenced plans to use bankruptcy as well to get rid of student loans. She already filed once. I told her cousin to mention to her that student loans can't be written off with bankruptcy. I'm sure the cousin didn't speak to her about it, though, because they don't have the best relationship.
    L. Marie Joseph said...
    "Has the Recession Changed America's Spending Habits? "

    Of course it has, however once everything gets back to normal most of us will have a spending spree
    FreeBird said...
    Love this post. We wanted to get out of debt intially for all the same reasons most people that chose this path do. Security, independance, control of our finances and, for us, it is important for me to stay at home and homeschool our children so we need to do it all on 1 income. But our BIG AH-HA moment was when we borrowed money from my in-laws to buy our house. It took us 1 day to realize our mistage and 30 days to get our mortgage and pay them off.The borrower is slave to the lender and it is all too true when the in-laws are involved!

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