I read this on a blog the other day: “The world is not an easy place to live in right now and I can’t see any way out of the hole our country is in economically. We’re heading for the bottom and I can barely see any light anymore. I wonder if this is how people were feeling during the great depression.”

Oh, pleeeeeeeeease.  First off, we are nothing nothing nothing like the Great Depression.  People who lived through the Great Depression STILL, more than 70 years later, add water to the ketchup bottle to make sure they get every smidgen possible.  Absolutely nothing got wasted or thrown away.  You didn’t buy new clothes, you had to repair what you had.  When it couldn’t be repaired anymore you made something new out of it for a smaller family member.  No one had a job – there were no jobs to be had.  The lady who said that was complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet on the two incomes she and her husband bring in – she did mention that one of them makes 90k a year.  The fact that either of them is working indicates it is not the Great Depression.  Also my husband and I make two incomes which combined don’t even equal 90k.  We live very comfortably off less than one of those incomes, which is by itself slightly less than the average American household income, and I am so happy that I saw a shooting star a few weeks ago and couldn’t even think of anything to wish for.  Possibly this lady needs to re-examine her budget because I feel ridiculously wealthy on less than half of what is apparently suffocating her.

Secondly, WE ARE NOT IN A RECESSION.  Yet.  Our last quarter’s economic growth was 0.9 percent, and the quarter before that growth was 0.6 percent.  I will readily admit that those are not great numbers, but the economy cannot be growing and receeding at the same time any more than the tide can simultaneously come in and go out.  A true recession requires two successive quarters (six months) of negative growth.  We are not growing at the rate we have been over the past few years, but we are not in a recession.  It is more like a stagnation.  I am no economist but I did pay a bit of attention in high school and I know this, so I am surprised that the media in general can’t figure this out.  Reporter does not equal economic expert.  Yet, people in general listen to the media in general and get all flustered over “our horrible economy.”  Well, I hate to break this to you but stagnating at a relatively good place does not count as being horrible.  Yes, gas prices could be lower…but they are still much, much lower than in most places in the world.  Food prices could be lower…but you have access to food, which is worlds away from what a lot of people experience on a daily basis.  Jobs could pay more…but you have a job, so quit whining.  I know things are getting hard for some people right now, but – and I am speaking anecdotally here – most of what I can see is people suffering from poor choices they made in better times.  “Oh, let’s go ahead and get the bigger house with that balloon mortgage thingy – surely we’ll get a raise before the balloon payment is due.”  “Well, we really need a new big-screen flat panel HD TV.  We’ll just finance it, they have a great plan here.”  “We consolidated all our loans!  Let’s celebrate by financing this great new set of couches.”  But the raise didn’t come, or the balloon payment wasn’t saved for, or the planned-on bonus didn’t come through, or whatever.  Here’s a thought: don’t plan on money you don’t have.  You’re not entitled to something because you breathe air, to borrow a phrase from Dave Ramsey.  If you have money to pay for something, great.  If you don’t, wait until you have money.  I cannot tell you the number of foolish financial decisions I have witnessed over the past year through various friends and acquaintences, and I have very little sympathy for those who are lying in a bed of their own making.

And thirdly, an economy cannot sustain huge, uninterrupted growth.  I am reaching back to high school again but it is OK to have times of growth and times where the economy isn’t so great.  Just keep thinking of the tide – it comes in, it goes out.  Nobody gets too upset because they know that, sooner or later, it will come back in again.

Honestly I think the biggest problem is that Americans live in a culture of entitlement: “Waaah, I want that, waaaaaah, why can’t I have it, I deserrrrrrve it!”  And suddenly banks realized that it isn’t so smart to lend money to people who can’t pay it back.  And people who can’t pay the banks back get foreclosed on, which everyone has known in the back of their minds all along but suddenly it is National News.  And suddenly people have to spend money on food rather than pay-per-view, and that means we are in Desperate Times.  The media created this recession impression (I’m a poet, too!) about 6 months ago, if I remember correctly, at the same time we were posting record low unemployment rates.  And now they feed it with horror stories of the dark, dark times we are facing when most of what is going on is people not being able to spoil themselves as much as they want to.  I will add here that the media is possibly creating a recession – scaring people into not buying that tomato because they don’t think they have 79 cents to spare, and then the little tomato farmer goes out of business, and then the fertilizer company has less income and lays some people off, and so on.  It is wonderful to report news; it is not acceptable to invent it.  We may be headed for a recession; I don’t know that.  I’m not an expert.  But I’m not worried.  Jake and I, through hard work and stubbornness, are 100% debt free.  We can handle our rent, utilities, and food on his income no problem.  We have an emergency fund saved.  I know how to use coupons.  We drive only when necessary and then use a car that gets amazing gas mileage.  We learned how to live small while everyone else was living it up – living like we were in a recession when we weren’t.  Because of that our way of life hasn’t changed a bit.

This wasn’t supposed to turn into my soapbox about financial choices…I’m just really tired of being told at every turn that I’m just an innocent victim.  I’m not a victim.  I made choices and I like how the chips fell.  Of course I would like cheaper gas and vegetables, but I really don’t have a problem with The Dire Economic Situation.  It may be popular to sell the victim mentality but I’m not interested in buying.

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