Ever since the beginning of this summer, most of us have been bruised by the limping economy, by either losing our jobs or seeing friends who've lost jobs (I've seen 4), struggling to pay back debt (whether it be credit cards, student loans or house payments), or perhaps even seeing our homes foreclosed. Those of us who were frugal to begin with now just find our "talent" at finding the best deal or best coupon that much more in demand. All of sudden, a personal finance blog is the trendy must-have accessory in 2008, like a BMW or "it" bag was to 2005. Google searches for such terms as "Bahamas cruise" or "2008 Audi" have tapered like an out-of-fashion 80s jean, now more people Google "how to save my 401(k)," "tips to beat the current recession," and "save money on food." Ah, it's like 1929 all over again. (Cue big band music.)
At least there's solace in the fact that we're going through these damaged financial times together, and (hopefully) learning from them. Like I've said before, we're not alone in the struggle and we're all affected by some degree. Case in point: My love affair with free samples and coupons? Never would have been lit without the kindling of current fiscal malaise.
That's one thing I'm thankful for -- that I've learned the full value of being frugal and routinely using store deals to my benefit. Sure, I've always shopped around before to find the best bargain, but now my searches are more magnified and more well-researched.
Other things I'm thankful for:
- That I'm very healthy, and everyone I care about is also healthy. (Except my grandfather, but I learned he just opened his eyes from his coma-like state yesterday, which is very promising.) No amount of bargain-hunting, coupons or money can buy you good health.
- I'm married to a fabulous guy who wants the same things out of life as me, shares my sense of quirky humor, and balances me out in a way that no other guy could. Where I'm emotionally impulsive, he's solid and rational, where I'm "crazy," he's even-keel and sensible. We bring out the best in each other and feed off one another's energy. It's all so "Barefoot in the Park."
- I have a marvelous job that I love, am paid very well for and allows for somewhat flexible hours. (I get to work from home in the mornings and come in around 10:30 am everyday.) I feel like I have good job security and am rewarded well with solid raises.
- Love and I don't have to worry about money that much. Granted, we are living solely off my salary while he is in law school, and we do watch our spending to a certain degree, but I don't feel like it's a struggle. When I want something I usually buy it without having to save up (lavish trips and cars aside), and I can still buy as much two-ply toilet paper as I want, which I've amusingly gathered is a good gauge as to whether one is "struggling."
- We don't have that much debt to tackle, except for Love's law school tuition, which won't be knocking at our door till after he graduates and gets a litigation job, which should quell any strife over paying it back.
- Now is a fabulous, I repeat, fabulous time to get into the stock market if you're a newbie to the investing scene. We have not seen these kind of discounted prices since, well, the good ol' Great Depression, and might not see them again in our lifetime. For someone who wants to retire early (read: me), now couldn't be a better time to carpe diem and plan for a luxe life where I can plant the seeds of early retirement in discounted stocks, take my earnings later and invest in the greatest of investments: real estate in the Bay Area.