5 Lessons I Learned from the Economic Downturn

5 Lessons I Learned from the Economic Downturn5 Lessons I Learned from the Economic DownturnI really hated the economic downturn. It wasn't, oh what's the word, tons o' fun. Now that we are just starting to come out of it (it's over, right. . . RIGHT?!), I'm getting some perspective on it.

My husband is an entrepreneur who runs his own business. We've had modest highs and livable lows. Over the last few years we've gone without paychecks for l-o-n-g stretches and financed his businesses with credit cards. I don't recommend.

I have not experienced severe hardship. People have suffered financially much more than I have. But things are tight for all of us. I've bounced checks to my children's school. I've had my credit card declined at the gas station. I've fed my family out of food storage. And as much as I hate learning lessons from being poor, I have learned a few things. Here's some hard-won insight from the economic downturn.

1. Be a Good Steward
I have never been more grateful for material goods than during tough financial times. Housework is a pain? Face the threat of losing those toilets (along with your house) and you'll be glad to scrub them! When we were the most strapped for cash, I realized how wasteful I had been before. I had squandered and not taken care of what I had. When I realized that I wouldn't be buying anything new for a while, I valued and cared for what I already had.

Related: 10 "money-saving" tips that actually leave you broke

2. You Don't Raise Kids With Cash
Yes, it does take money to raise a child. But when things are tight you realize that what is essential is not expensive. When you can't afford programs, classes, and camps you read, talk, and teach your children yourself. You can make up for anything you can't afford. When you have to tell children "no" to extras, you can. And they take it like champs.

3. I Love My Husband Unconditionally
When my husband's business suffered during the economic downturn (Read: Clients can't pay) I felt disappointed and worried. I'm not going to lie, it's more fun when business is good. But even when we went through financial worst-case scenarios, my husband was still smart and funny. We still had interesting conversations and liked being together. We were married when he had less than $1 in the bank. Nothing [significant] has changed.

Related: The 5 wackiest, weirdest work offices in the world

4. Swallow Your Pride
Financial straits are humbling. Suddenly you can relate to people you may have judged before. You also find dignity in all types of work. My husband took on 3 extra jobs when he was hustling to make ends meet. One was managing a building for a friend. This included stocking tissue paper and unclogging toilets. He loved it and saw dollar signs with each new tenant he signed. You've got to be a big enough person to know when and how to pivot during a financial crisis. Don't let pride get in your way!

5. Money Doesn't Make You Happy

Well, it kind of does. It certainly relieves the stress associated with paying bills and making ends meet. But it really is true that when I was not worried about money, I still felt depressed, tired, and mad at my kids just as much as I did when I was worried about finances. I'm not going to say money makes no difference--because it's a lot nicer to have enough of it! But it just doesn't change the big things. I still felt happy and laughed, sang along to music and was grateful for my family even during those l-o-n-g stretches between paychecks.

- By Kacy Faulconer
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