I just spent a little time reading some of my past posts on this site. It’s amazing how much has changed since I began this endeavor, and yet much remains the same.
I still have credit card debt, but I’m making progress towards eliminating it, and I paid off one of my student loans earlier this week (hooray!). Matt has some debt of his own, but it’s much less significant than mine, and we’re working on a plan to pay that off together.
Between wedding gifts of cash, holiday money, tax refund, and our meager bonuses, Matt and I have managed to save nearly $10,000 since we said ‘I do’ in October. We need to invest some of that money into our house if we’re going to list it within the next month, but hopefully we’ll be able to unload it for more than we put in, and perhaps even make a bit of a profit.
Before the wedding, I had a minor case of cold feet and some serious money/role issues, but I’m happy to report that my feet warmed nicely in the weeks preceding the wedding, and I feel silly about ever writing about my breadwinner hang-ups. I’m not saying that getting married magically resolved my psychological issues, but putting my concerns into words and getting immediate feedback from readers was hugely cathartic. What I have come to realize is that this is no such thing as a ‘normal’ American household. Matt and I are finding our own way and figuring out how to make it work for us. We’re a team and that’s all that matters.
I wish I could write more about what’s going on at work - its providing fantastic case studies for my students (I’m still teaching evening classes at a local university), but I’m afraid to put anything that may identify me or my workplace on the interweb, especially since more budget (and likely job) cuts are coming down the pipe. I will say that our marketing department is in crisis mode - all hands are on deck - crafting new savings recovery messaging for each of our many audiences. Employers are worried that their employees aren’t going to be prepared for retirement. Retirement plan participants and individual investors are (surprisingly) already past the freaking-out stage and have accepted the reality of this market - they are looking for solid advice and strategies that answer the question everyone’s asking: “what now?” Advisers are getting back to basics and are trying to convince their clients who bailed for treasuries and bank CDs that now is the time to get back into the market and that stocks are on sale. Banks are trying to figure out where they can invest all of the cash that’s rushing through their doors for a hint of a profit, and good old MBS (mortgage backed securities) are the institutional investment of choice.
Concerns about job security and worries about some strained work relationships are the things that keep me awake at night lately. In the past year I’ve learned so much about corporate politics, strategic planning, and the value that smart marketing can bring an organization. I recently discovered Cy Wakeman’s “reality-based leadership” theory and have been working on putting my own ego and career aspirations aside in order to be a more helpful strategic partner. I’m hopeful that my eagerness to take on some extremely challenging projects at work will be enough to secure my job through this trough.
In other news, I’m further diversifying my sources of income through a bit of consulting work. I’ve been doing some pro bono strategic planning with a couple of non-profit boards I’m on, and recenlty an actual for-profit organization offered to pay me for my services. Matt’s been doing some freelance graphic design work as well, and we’re thinking about finally writing a business plan and launching our own markeitng and business consulting firm. We’ll see.
What personal, household, or career break-throughs have you experienced as a result of our current ‘economic downturn’?Stumble it!