KJ: While I’ve always been a saver, I’m not sure where I would be if it weren’t for 2008. The events that unfolded and the experiences I gained were astronomical, but the bottom line of it all was: inappropriate debt causes insurmountable problems. It’s with this perspective that my aggressive saving really was able to kick-off into the position that my wife and I are in today.
With limited money invested since I was only truly beginning to ramp up my savings, the impact of the colossal crash taught me that all walks of life: extremely wealthy (however you may personally define that if it’s a net worth of $500,000, $10,000,000 or $100,000,000), middle income, and lower income alike were devastated by too much debt. I learned very valuable lessons to live not just within our means, but beneath our means. The Great Recession served – for better or for worse – to really test me on the difference between a ‘want’ and ‘need.’ Sure I need an expensive car, fancy clothes, and a mansion, but I really want food today. Maybe I’ll just get the car. Food isn’t really that important. Wait what?
While my wife and I do partake in our share of what may be considered extravagant meals and trips, we assess our current state each month (more realistically, multiple times a month) to make sure we are on track, saving appropriately, and aggressively cutting expenses when we need (or want) to. Long day at work, craving for all you can eat beef at Texas De Brazil: I think I am willing to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a week to make-do. Everyone has expenses that are particularly meaningful to them, and for me it’s vacations and food experiences. Whatever sacrifices I need to make in clothing, auto expenses, or finding creative, budget conscious choices for lunches (soups, leftovers), I find a solution to accomplish my needs and the most important wants, so I can save for a rainy day deductible or job interruption and not amass high interest debt in a time of crisis.
AJ: 2008 for me was really just the beginning of our lives together, and it was a really big year for us. We both graduated from college, moved back home, started our first “real jobs,” and purchased our first home together. I’m incredibly thankful for the fear that filled both of us as we thoughtfully made all of those decisions with the overwhelming coverage of what was about to happen to our economy. Of the two of us, I’m certainly the more extravagant, but I’m also the most motivated by a seemingly insurmountable challenge. If Kirby decided tomorrow that he really wanted a Rolex (this is both highly unlikely and comedic, given Kirby’s preference for oversized athletic pants and hoodies when lounging around on the weekends – a throwback to his high school days), I would work diligently to make that happen. 2008 for us meant agreeing to put our future before anything we may decide we want or need in the immediate present. I know there was a lot of destruction in the years following 2008, but for a generation that was given so much from a very young age, I’m thankful for the perspective and for what it might mean for us all to be more practical and more logical.
- What did you learn from 2008?
If you had it to do over again, what would you change?
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