Did the Great Recession Change You?

Brent Pittman —  02/08/2013
Did the Great Recession change your spending behavior? Credit

Did the Great Recession change your spending behavior? Credit EJP Photo.

The Great Recession (Dec 2007-June 2009) and it’s lingering high unemployment ravaged the housing and banking systems and took many households on a wild economic ride.

Hearing about layoffs at work and on the news was a daily event. Friends who were having trouble making their mortgage payments and behind on their bills were too common–perhaps you were one of these.

We know the Great Recession was a tough spot for the economy, but it wasn’t anything near as devastating or long lasting as the Great Depression.

I wonder if our generation(s) will be changed by the Great Recession like the former generations were changed by the Great Depression?

The Great Depression: Fuel for the Greatest Generation

I believe that the hard times of the Great Depression gave fuel to the generations who would sacrifice and fight in World War II.

The Greatest Generation wouldn’t have been ready for the trials that a world war would bring without the economic training ground of the Great Depression.

I know that the Great Depression changed my grandparent’s generation. They knew how to garden, can vegetables, cook, fix anything–and I mean anything.

The Greatest Generation invented upcycling and didn’t leave anything to waste since material and money were both scarce.

The economics changed The Greatest Generations’s behavior not only during the hard times, but continued throughout their lives. My grandparents still garden and can into their 80’s.

I wonder if the same will be written about the generations who experienced the Great Recession?

Did the Great Recession Change Us?

I am left with more questions than answers regarding the Great Recession:

  • Did we learn any lessons from the Great Recession?
  • Was our behavior impacted enough to have a life long change?
  • Are our generations prepared for a tougher trial due to the Great Recession?

How the Great Recession Changed Me

I don’t know how others were impacted by the economic turmoil starting in 2007, but I can share a few ways that I was impacted by the Great Recession.

I am more mistrusting of banks. Not enough to pull my money out of the banking system, but jaded enough to not be loyal to any one establishment. They are NOT out for my well being.

The realization that no job is stable is a reality in my mind. I saw co-workers let go as my old company shuttered office across the country. This has lead me to believe that everyone should be engaged in a small business as a main occupation or as side income.

Taking out a home mortgage frightens me. The foreclosure horror stories I heard about in my coaching practice showed me the worst case scenarios of what could happen. If I take out a home mortgage, it will be in as much cash down as humanly possible and a loan for as short amount as I can make it.

I factor risk more heavily into my financial decisions.

The Great Recession has officially been over for years, yet history hasn’t decided what the impact has been. Only time will tell if our generation(s) will be the next Greatest Generation.

Did the Great Recession change your behavior, life, or view of money? 

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • William_Drop_Dead_Money

    It definitely changed me, too. I finally woke up to the reality that we have a recession every 7-10 years… and forewarned is forearmed. I saw that the best bargains of all are to be had in the bottom of a recession, and the key is to have the cash to take advantage of them.

    Now I can’t wait for the next one… 🙂

  • I graduated right after it technically ended and it definitely changed me. When I went into college things were great and when I graduated things were anything but. I think that helped me save as much as we have.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF

    I wasn’t paying much attention during the recession (I had just started a PhD program in fall 2008 – a very stable position) but the recovery definitely has shaped me. I think the amazing gains in the stock market since early 2009 has made me more risk-seeking than I would have been otherwise. Plus, now these superlow interest rates are the ones that I will benchmark everything else in my life against – by the time we’re ready to buy a house I’ll probably complain about high mortgage interest rates even at 5%.

  • John@TheMoneyPrinciple

    It certainly put the cat among the pigeons at TMP HQ! But see Charles Ferguson’s fascinating movie Inside Job for details of the corruption and breach of trust that went on and, yes, it has permanently altered everyone’s perceptopn. Now we know how money works.

  • krantcents

    It confirmed how vulbnerable you can be, if you do not have multiple income streams. In addition, my normally stable job (teacher) was slightly vulnerable. I think it will make a lot of people more conservative when it comes to their personal finances. At least for a little while!

  • The financial meltdown that triggered the Great Recession pretty much permanently shattered my confidence in any non-government insured financial institution. To witness what happened to Lehman Bros, AIG, et al, and how quickly and easily it seemed to happen, was extremely eye-opening. I avoid any investment that’s dependent of the fortunes of U.S. private sector financial institutions.

    • Kurt,
      Seems like a tall order to avoid such investments with our intertwined global economics.