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?