Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why a Recession is Good for Us

The media has done a good job worrying us about the future. Sometimes, listening to the news, I convince myself that I should be building a bomb shelter and stockpiling food to deal with the impending world crisis. What with global warming, food shortages, and the upcoming economic collapse, we’re all doomed! Gas is creeping near $4 a gallon. Food is getting more expensive every day. People are filing for foreclosures left and right. Everything seems to be coming together to create a perfect mess.

But actually, when you stop to think of it, these things aren’t so bad after all. In fact, it’s about time these things started to happen.

The way I see it, the economy has been behaving like a teenager who’s just left home for college. At first, they eat all the junk food they want. They get a credit card and buy, buy, buy. They drink and party and stay up late. They think that life is just grand. But then, the consequences set in. They’re fat, broke, and hung over and realize that it’s about time to grow up.

That pretty much sums up how our economy has been behaving for the past 10 years. Now, we’ve got to suck it up, pay the consequences, and work off that Freshman 15! The good news is that once we start getting our act together, we’ll enjoy the benefits of our responsible behavior. Here are just some of the positive effects that I see coming our way.

1. People will get creative.

You know the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Well lately, we haven’t had much necessity. Easy credit has put the world at our fingertips. Now that it’s gone, we’ll just have to get creative to find ways to enjoy the same quality of life that we’re used to. Just think of all the breakthroughs in alternative energy that we’ve made in the past few years. Once we started to feel the burn of high oil costs, people started going to the drawing board to find a solution. Now, we’ve got algae fuel, energy producing knee braces, and revolving doors that produce generate power, among numerous other unthought-of possibilities. I have faith that we’ll pull together to see this thing through and end up with some great innovations as a result.

2. We’ll lose weight.

Food in America has been notoriously cheap and easy. Packaged foods and fast foods provide convenience and so far have been relatively cheap. Now that food is getting more expensive, people may have to get more creative with their eating habits and turn to healthier, inexpensive alternatives like lentils, beans, and other whole foods. Forget the South Beach Diet; try the Recession Diet.

3. People will talk more about money.

Have you noticed that ever since people started buzzing about a recession, people are talking a lot more about money? They’re not bragging about their most recent purchase or that big raise they got (thank god); they’re talking about their problems. People feel more comfortable admitting their mistakes when they think they’re not alone. Who wants to talk about their credit card debt when Sally is gushing about her expensive new sports car? Maybe, people can start coming out of the financial closet and create dialogues about smart money choices. Sharing knowledge is one of the great things about being human - we don’t have to experience something ourselves to learn from it. As people open up, more people will be able to draw upon their experiences to make wiser financial decisions.

4. There will be less traffic.

People think twice about driving their car when gas costs almost $4 per gallon. There will be more people carpooling, taking public transit, and just plain not driving. As a result, there will be fewer cars on the road and less traffic. HALLELUJAH! I’d gladly pay more for gas if it meant sitting in my car for fewer hours. As an added bonus, people will realize that driving like a jerk costs them money. No more people speeding past you on the freeway and driving like maniacs (ok, we can wish right?)

5. We’ll reduce our impact on the environment.

Saving money and helping the environment go hand in hand. Walking instead of driving, turning off unused lights, buying less…all of these things cut back on energy use and make the world a greener place.

The next time you here people complaining about the shrinking economy, don’t fret. Just think about how great life is going to be. You’ll be more creative, look great in your bikini (or speedo) this summer, have some stimulating conversations, spend less time in traffic, and be one with nature. Recessions are great, aren’t they?

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Asset Gatherer said...

I've been hoping for #4 since gas prices started rising so quickly in 2004. I believe it's why Europeans drive such tiny, efficient cars!

Christina said...

I love this post! It's funny... so many people think I'm foolish for being frugal... then the economy goes bad and now suddenly I'm smart. :-)

budgets are sexy said...

Amen to creativity & frugality! good post :)

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