This recession is different than so many others because it has affected America's wealth more than any other. Not necessarily personal wealth - unemployment extensions and low gas prices have helped to keep them somewhat stable - but the wealth of the country as a whole has gone down the tubes. A lot of that is because Americans were using credit like never before. For housing. For cars. For luxury items. All in an effort to be as good as, or appear as good as, the people next door.
Now, dear ones, I am not going to tell you that you should not have a credit card. I am most certainly not one to judge. But I am going to tell you that I don't. And I am also going to tell you that I haven't. Not since 2001/2002. And my life is better for it. Because when I was laid off, well over a year ago, though I was freaked out about my finances - about paying the rent and the electric bill, about buying groceries and Metro cards - I was not at all worried about the other stuff. About having a credit card on which I was only paying the minimum making my tenuous credit even worse. And, no. I wasn't worried about not being able to buy stuff.
I'm not going to lie to you, I like stuff. I like shopping. And I miss being able to go to a sample sale or having enough stashed in my savings account to get out of town. I'm bummed out when I can't join friends for a nice dinner or a trip to the spa. But it's not a big deal. It's just stuff. When I'm working, I can get more of it. When I'm earning money, I'll be able to save it again. I'll be able to save it better. Because I have spent the last year and a half living on very little.
I'm not saying I won't get a credit card in the future. I might.
I'm not saying I'm not psyched to be able to go shopping again. It's something I am looking very, very forward to.
But the fact that I haven't been keeping up with the Joneses this past year?
Eh. It's no big deal.
image via Wells Fargo blog