Sometimes you just have to celebrate.
Five years. That’s how long we’ve been worried about the economy. (Longer, if you had your ear to the ground.) And since then, just think of what we’ve worried about.
We learned that banks could fail. Would ours? And we learned about FDIC … that would be our safety net if our bank did fail.
We watched jobs disappear into thin air. And unemployment figures stayed stubbornly high as politicians quibbled over what to do about it. Some of us lost jobs and are reinventing ourselves in businesses. Others are making do on one income after a spouse was let go. Meanwhile unemployment benefits keep being extended because the time to re-employment is so long … if it ends at all. And more people than ever are counting on food assistance through stamps.
Then we discovered our houses weren’t worth what we thought they were, and the equity that was going to help finance our retirement went “poof!” In fact, a large percentage of the population learned they owed more than the new, lower value of the house. The term “being upside down on a mortgage” became part of our vocabulary. And new jobs included services related to foreclosed homes, such as emptying the owners’ things and cleaning the houses to increase the bank’s chances of getting rid of them through short sales.
When the stock market took a tumble, there went our retirement savings, anything in mutual funds or straight stocks. Nest eggs were decimated. And, although the stock market has rebounded brilliantly, in fact to lifetime highs, did we have to cash in part of our stocks to bridge a financial disaster or two? So there’s less left in there to grow?
Add the fears of hyperinflation … lost value of the U.S. dollar … the potential demise of the Euro … another war somewhere … and are we really going to look like Greece?
Enter the 2010 mid-term elections, and then the presidential elections. Did any candidate ever talk about the things we had worried about for those years? Or did they all play loosy-goosy with the facts and never truly commit to any position?
To these concerns, I know you could add a half dozen others that disrupt your sleep, night after night.
Yet, more than anything, what’s been most worrisome has been the uncertainty.
You can fight most anything if you know it exists. But fighting uncertainty is like shadow boxing. And shadow boxing is tiring.
So, today I think we need to take a break from any of the concerns that remain on your plate.
Together we should celebrate having weathered five years of uncertainty. Pat yourself on the back for having put food on the table throughout. For having kept a roof over your heads. Think back over all the years when you clothed children, paid for educations, made big financial decisions, even put money into a 401(k) or IRA.
Think of all the “closed” months when bills somehow got paid. And you found money for braces, or for the uniform for your up-and-coming star athlete. Maybe you even wiggled your bare feet in the sand on an exotic beach somewhere.
The net-net is that we’ve all done the best we could. Some were dealt better hands than others. But few were exempt from facing the uncertainty.
So in a moment close your eyes. Tune out the worries that spin in your brain. Focus on the fact that you are still here, still moving forward, still with a sense of humor. See yourself being presented with a huge bouquet of flowers as an award for having applied that financial genius within.
Think of one thing that would bring you pleasure. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It may not even be material. But, whatever it is, give it to yourself. Relish in it. Ignore any worries that might be trying to break back in. Not now. Not yet. This is your party.
And you deserve it.
Share this article with anyone you can think of who deserves to celebrate today.