This recession has many of us wishing that we would have listened to our grandparent’s financial advice. You know, when they told us to spend less than we make, save more and don’t take on debt. No, no, no, that is old fashioned. This is a whole new world. We have evolved past that. Maximum leverage is the ultimate way to wealth. Or so we thought.
The unfortunate reality for the Country is that we have lived the good life far to long and now it is time to pay the piper. Whether we pay him fast or slow is uncertain but there is no denying that we are going to have to pay. We are going through the worst economic cycle that this country has seen in 70 years. This is largely because of all of the tinkering we have been doing for the past 70 years to keep this from happening. Unfortunately the tinkering is only going to make it bigger and last longer than it should. It is sort of like earthquakes. Little earthquakes help to ease the pressure and hopefully make the big earthquakes not as big.
Well we know enough about science to know that we cannot stop earthquakes. This is very fortunate because if we could then someone (probably in government) would try to stop them. Unfortunately stopping all of the small earthquakes would just lead to a bigger more disastrous one when the pressure became so great that nothing could stop it.
A basic understanding of economics teaches us that there will be booms and busts. Unfortunately we thought we were smarter than these laws of economics and tried to perpetuate the good times forever. All we did was make the big bust a lot bigger and more destructive by not allowing smaller down cycles to clear out the bad stuff. It is a tough situation to go through but it is necessary for us to clear out all of the bad stuff to make way for the good.
This general cycle is very predictable. Not predictable in a sense of exactly when it will happen, but the fact that it will happen. This does actually create a time of great economic opportunity for businesses and individuals who followed their grandparents advice, spent less, saved more and stayed out of debt.
Anyone can make money when all of the markets are going up. However the true opportunities lie in wait for the contrarians among us. When the markets turn, all of the people that are in debt and over-leveraged go bust. They just don’t have the cash flow to keep up on the monthly debt obligations. This creates a tremendous opportunity for those individuals that resisted the temptation to take on consumer debt and keep up with the Jones in the boom-time. Now flush with cash, there are opportunities abound for those folks who have plenty of savings and no debt.
The lesson: GET OUT OF DEBT NOW!
If you are in debt, you need to get out of debt as quickly as possible. Not only so you can be in a better position to capitalize on the next bust that comes around, but more importantly so you can survive this one. Take a moment and think about how much money you spend every month on credit card payments, car payments, overpriced mortgages etc. Most people find that if they didn’t have these payments, they could actually work half the time and still enjoy life more.
Debt is a financial cancer that robs you of the most precious thing that you have in life. Time. If you have a job today, how confident are you that your job will still be around in a year? Don’t wait until your salary is cut, your bonus is taken away or your job disappears to figure out how you are going to pay the bills. The best insurance policy you can have is to not have the bills to pay in the first place. Get out a debt, build a 3 to 6 month emergency fund in the bank and I guarantee you will sleep better at night.
Spend less than you make, save more, and get out of debt.
Touche’ Grandpa, Touche’