Call me crazy, but I think the economy is getting better.
It could be even better, no doubt, but I think that will come with more time.
I acknowledge there are lots of people who are still hurting, but I think the glimmer of hope on the horizon is getting stronger.
Our economy didn’t get broken overnight. Therefore, I don't think it is realistic it will get fixed overnight. I believe a little patience and reflection are in order.
I’ve based my opinion on observations of my own family and friends and what I see around me. I am also an optimist. I just don’t believe in doom and gloom or living my life in constant fear.
If the decade of rainbow-colored terror alert levels following 9/11, taught me anything, it was not to worry every day about things I have no control over.
I can’t control global financial markets, but I have control over my own economics. The decisions I make every day on what to save, spend, invest in and where to bank, work and shop do make a difference for me. The recession was a rude wakeup call to me, and millions of other Americans, to pay closer attention to financial decisions and be realistic.
As a country, we’re not quite there yet. But that’s a subject for a different column.
There are lots of different things I see that give me hope the recovery, though weak now, will eventually win out. I’m a confident consumer, and I’ll tell you why.
No. 1, I have a job. I quit mine at the beginning of the recession, but I found work as a self-employed writer. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I still found work. Then I got rehired by my old employer. Four years ago, that might not have happened.
No. 2, my 401k is growing again. Four years ago, it was bleeding out.
No. 3, the Federal Reserve’s decision to keep interest rates low have helped me to pay off my student loan debt faster than I thought. I probably would not have been able to keep up on payments had the economy kept chugging along. Big thanks to the feds for keeping this student debtor from defaulting.
No. 4, thanks to low mortgage rates I now have a tangible asset: a home. Again, if the feds hadn’t kept rates low, a local credit union wouldn’t have gotten my business from a megabank. Win for them. Win for me.
No. 5, the recession also demonstrated quite starkly the long-term consequences of skimping on my savings. I’m now a dedicated saver, where I certainly wasn’t before, and I actually have a nest egg. That gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
There are other signs people other than me are feeling more confident, too. Houses in my neighborhood are selling. There’s a bunch of new families with younguns running around. I think that’s a good sign.
Both of my younger twin sisters and their husbands were able to buy houses during the recession. They are just starting out, but the deflation of over-priced housing combined with interest rates put both couples in good school districts in houses they probably couldn’t have bought five years ago. They too are paying their student debts down faster than they would have been able to before the recession. They are saving more now too.
Members of my family have also been able to find jobs relatively quickly, some even used their government benefits to retrain themselves for those jobs. That sounds like progress to me.
In the last year, three members of my family have also been able to buy new cars, myself included. I know at least a dozen others with new rides, too and I know others who have gotten jobs selling those cars and making the steel that builds them. That’s good news right?
I also know at least two small businesses that were founded during the recession that are booming. Times were tricky, but they’ve made it through by being conservative and cautious. Things are growing so fast now they can hardly keep up.
That gives me hope.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.
Call me crazy, but I think the economy is getting better.
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