One of my therapists was talking about how difficult it is for him to focus, "I have ADD, ADHD, and HGTV. You name it, I've got it." I laughed because I feel the same way sometimes for different reasons. It's hard to focus on the things that make you happy when the world is falling apart around you.
I watch the stock market and listen to financial planners, investors, and read articles that are attempting to foresee what America's future will bring. I avoid the political commentary that offers option without facts. I need facts and love when there are comparisons back by historical accountings. There is a saying that reminds me that if we don't learn from the past we will repeat the same mistakes made in the past. This morning I read a article by Donnor Private Research comparing today's economy to the 1970's and 1980's, and the financial collapse of 2008:
"By 1974, inflation hit more than 11%, and the stock market fell 35%. Inflation eventually hit 13.5% in 1980. In one incredible five-year stretch from 1977 to 1981, cumulative inflation was over 50%... in other words the value of your savings was essentially cut by one-third."
I lived through those times. I was in high school when we were forced to "ration" gas in the 1970's. The first odd or even number on your license plate determined which day of the week you could get gas. If you forgot and ran out of gas you had to wait. If you ran out on a holiday weekend, it could be days without the use of your car. I remember at Christmas there were no gifts. I remember my mom baked a store brand lasagna and we all complained, "No turkey? No stuffing? No gravy or cranberries? No pie?" Decades later that Christmas memory still breaks my heart.
According to the article it took 25 years to get back to normal. Things were amazing as I entered the workforce and began a career that last 25 years. Halfway to retirement I saw my 401K grow to over $400,000. I had purchased my dream home and was living large. Everyone around me had money to do whatever they wanted. I was optimistic and hopeful. I imagined what my retirement would look like. I'd travel to Europe and realize everything on my bucket list. Then in 2008, we had another market collapse that stole from me my home and my IRA savings. Suddenly, I was unemployed, homeless, and broke. I worked harder than ever to save every penny earned to rebuild my wealth but never regained that lifestyle. Then the 2020 pandemic hit and now we face another financial crisis that many like me may never recover from.
I have learned that financial highs and lows are cyclical and happen about every 11-15 years. Most are manufactured by greed resulting in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The middle-class has always made financial recovery possible. Today, the middle-class is shrinking due to mandates that forced businesses to close. More and more middle-class are falling into poverty every day. People are coming to therapy riddled with anxiety and depression as they are realizing their financial stability is unstable and they are terrified what the future will bring.
When you must make difficult decisions to put gas in your car or feed your children, only to learn the food is in short supply and the price of gas is beyond your budget, the choices you make may be out of your control. What do you do then?
When every night you turn on the news and learn that winter has hit and only a few have electricity to warm their homes, does it make you consider what you would do if you lost heat, water, and lighting when the blackouts come to your town?
Do you want to buy gifts for your children and you feel depressed when you know Christmas morning there will be nothing that resembles Christmas in your home? Or do you act as if nothing is happening, pay the $100 for a tree that is dried out, hang lights that increase your electric bills, and purchase the traditional dinner that now has tripled in price so your children can have "one last Christmas" to remember?
I get it. I've been there and I'm right there with you now.
When you are looking at your finances shrink due to inflation and higher costs of living it doesn't help when a therapist says, "Go find your happy place." You may not have a happy place to recluse to. Sometimes the choices we have will be "bad or worse" and there is no good choice. In times of past when adversity hit and people struggled, those who survived focused on what was truly important and within their control. They looked for the silver lining amongst the dark clouds and waited patiently for the sun to shine through. They watched movies about hope and restoration like, It's A Wonderful Life, and they gathered with loved ones around a crackling fire and prayed together. When all seems hopeless, with God there is hope. When it is beyond your control, remember God is our savior. When we are at our breaking point, God is there to comfort and encourage us. When we have no answers, remember that God has overcome the darkness to give us lite.