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Has the recession forced you to start over?


The recession might be ending, but for many people this is just the beginning. Thanks to the poor economy, millions of people have been forced to start over after having their lives disrupted by layoffs, foreclosures and dwindling market returns.

Have you been forced to start over? Maybe you’re starting a new career, because your old one died? Or you’ve moved to a faraway place to change your life? Or you’ve done a 180 in the way you approach money?

Tell us about it here.

Discussion: 16 Comments

  • Posted by DELORES MOORE on August 21, 2009 5:02 AM

    Has the recession made us start over and change how we live? Does a bear……well, you know the rest. I’ve had a 20 yr career in banking and mortgage lending. (Never in subprime, just for the record). My husband and I never wanted kids and we always prided ourselves on living (paying all the bills and saving) on just 1 income so that the other income could be for “quality of life”. (travel, entertainment, shopping) We saw how our friends with kids groaned and moaned about expense, yet they were always running and keeping up with the Joneses with bigger houses, cars, boats and other toys, private schools, sports & cheerleading, and we knew we did NOT want to be them.

    Now, with the recession as deep as it is and with job losses for both of us, our new combined income is only 1/3 of our previous ONE income.

    We both come from classic Southern families (TN, AL), not well monied, so it was already in our upbringing to instinctively manage amazing things with less. (Thus we always lived in about 1/2 as much house as we technically could have afforded)

    Now everything is changed. We do not travel at all any more. We don’t go out to eat at all. We don’t even go out for a movie. We only allow maybe 1 pay-per-view each month.

    Our food budget is $5 per person, per day. That has to cover all 3 meals and any snacks. The goal for lunch is $2. You would be amazed at how well we eat for that little bit.

    We are lucky to live in a very affluent area (Metro West Palm Beach, FL), so shopping at thrift stores for clothes is a bit different here than other places. That has made not really having a clothes budget a little easier. And since there isn’t a woman alive that doesn’t need a little retail therapy from time to time (sad, but true), an all-day shopping spree and tons of full shopping bags can be yours for the amazing price of only about $45 :-)

    We have not yet been late on a single house payment or any other debt, but it is coming. Soon. Our savings will be gone within the next six months, if my projections are accurate.

    But all in all, its ok. For now. My grandmother was born in 1925. Rest her soul, we lost her just recently, on Jan 30. Sharp as a tack to her very last breath, we talked every day. Her quiet yet stubborn strength kept me going, and she constantly reminded me that this, too, shall pass. I make daily use of the lessons she taught me. She said that growing up extremely poor made her ready for all this. “Again”, she would add.

    I know it is an odd coping mechanism, but I am focusing my attention on living as well as possible with as little as possible. Somehow, it makes me feel that I am honoring her. I miss her terribly, but I know that as long as I am using daily the things she taught me to get through this economic disaster, a little piece of her is with me always.

  • Posted by Taffy Miller on August 21, 2009 6:54 AM

    At 64 I am back in school(online) with a massive student loan. It may bankrupt me, I no longer trust the school, and there may not be a job when I am certified. I’ve been a good American, paying taxes since I was 16, and it certainly wasn’t my fault that the big suits drove our economy into the ditch. I long to go back to my old profession, but the work has simply dried up. My “tribe”, the Educated Working Poor (we are legion) can’t retire, we will work till we collapse, holding places that the younger workers need.

    We obeyed every rule, did all the right things, and were betrayed by the Washington/Wall Street Axis. Thanks for listening

  • Posted by Monica Vela on August 21, 2009 7:31 AM

    Since my husband and I’ve been married, I often encouraged him to go back to school,get his GED and then go to college. I’d been wanting him to leave the labor intensive jobs (at companies that offered NO health benefits) he has often gotten into. He could never bring himself to not working and not being part of the financial contributor (as I was) in our household. I told him I could hold down the fort until he got educated, which in the end would benefit our family greatly. Well, after the company he worked for went out of business, he applied for unemployment and decided at that point, to go back to school. I am so happy now! My income combined w/his unemployment (which we are saving-not touching) we are doing okay. We live in a very small duplex, which we pay very little for. We are a bit overcrowded ever since my son was born, but we make due. We also paid off both our vehicles last year. The low rent and no vehicle debt has helped TREMENDOUSLY in me being able to support our family successfully. My hope is by the time he finishes school, the economy would have gotten better and he will be able to find a brand new job in a totally different field.

  • Posted by Stephanie Walker on August 21, 2009 9:30 AM

    Has the recession forced us to start over? YES! And we’re glad…

    A year ago my husband lost his high paying job as a computer programmer (his contract was cut short unexpectedly) which set a series of events in motion that have changed our lives beyond expectation. To make a very long story short (as possible): we quickly depleted what little savings we had trying to keep up with our bills, we listed our dream house in Los Angeles, tried to sell it for 11 months, finally sold it short and avoided foreclosure by only a few days, sold 90% of all of our belongings in an effort to break our attachment to material possessions (and avoid having to pay money we didn’t have to ship and store,) and on the day we handed the keys over to the new owners of our house we got an invitation that changed everything…. to take care of a 4 bedroom farmhouse in the San Juan Islands in Washington State and live there for 2 years rent-free.

    Where are we now? Living w/ my family in the suburbs of Chicago, working until we move to the island in October. I am working in Chicago on a short-term project and my husband is working for a new company as a computer programmer… a position that is remote and he can do from almost anywhere with an internet connection.

    The house is completely empty (the one on the island) so we will be building furniture and looking for creative ways to create a home with very little money and few possessions. It’s a thrilling opportunity.

    I’ve been blogging about this since January at my blog: “Love in the Time of Foreclosure.” ( We have been extremely honest about our situation, how we got into it and the highs and lows along the way.

    Our idea of home has changed, we’ve learned how to be happy in the face of any circumstance, we are re-envisioning our personal “American Dream” and flourishing in the process. Yes, we just filed for bankruptcy, but we are more grounded than ever.

    Above all we have been determined to turn this saga into a positive growth experience and keep loving each other. I’m learning, growing and have become a better person through all of this. It’s a gift, in a very big way.

  • Posted by S.T.S. on August 21, 2009 3:41 PM

    The recession actually hasn’t affected me at all. I get a steady income working at the local utility and will probably have steady employment thanks to California’s Renewable Energy Mandate. I’m deathly afraid of being over-leveraged and have always lived a VERY frugal life thanks to living outside trendy/desirable (i.e. more expensive) areas. So even during times of unemployment, I was never in financial hot water. Last year was a milestone year as I paid off all of my student loans and my car loan!! My 401K and ROTH IRAs took a major hit during the stock market melt down. But I’ve actually made up for the losses by continually still investing during those down times. And now my net worth is the highest it’s ever been. I think the only change I’ve made is that I’ll be doubling what I normally contribute to charities.

    But I’m extremely greatful for what I have. I know at any minute some medical disaster can wipe me or my parents out financially. My parents don’t really have much, if any, retirement savings so I know I may have to support them some day.

  • Posted by Paul on August 22, 2009 3:39 AM

    The recession AND a divorce have combinded to form The Perfect Storm financially for me. So yes, I’m starting all over again at 52. The good news that I heard on NPR yesterday is that 60 is the new 40 so I guess I have plenty of time. That said, as I start over this time it will be from a much stronger spiritual foundation and with a much more discerning eye as to what I want and don’t want to accumulate; and for what purpose I want to accumulate. Namaste!

  • Posted by Jay on August 22, 2009 9:57 AM

    I have not had to start over, but I’m definitely in a holding pattern. It takes time to retrain for a new career - sometimes years. I know I’m in a dying industry. But American manufacturing is not the vinyl industry.

  • Posted by Catherine on August 26, 2009 6:34 AM

    I have lost my job as of last week. My fiance just got a job after being laid off from the pharmaceutical industry 8 months ago, with a lot less income now.

    I am starting a resale clothing shop with a bit of personal investment, excited, and hopeful. I went from being a president of a multi-million dollar construction supplier, to selling it just before the market crashed to the public sector of a large hvac co., laid off due to poor economy to a new venture of retail/resale. The good side is I have an entreprenurial spirit and history, but it’s always a risk.

    Response to Catherine
    Posted by nicole on February 5, 2010 2:06 AM

    would love to know more about how this is going, my husband and i are thinking about doing the same thing in san diego. any info or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Posted by Emily Kaye on August 27, 2009 10:36 AM

    Has the recession forced you to start over? I don’t know if the people who have commented above will be irritated by this statement, but yes, it has. I’m only 25, and so I don’t always feel that I am allowed to say so, but yes. The recession has forced me to pick a new career…only 2 1/2 years into the first one. I was a newspaper reporter…a cops reporter straight out of college. I loved my job, and I loved what I felt was my service to the community. Too bad one of the first major signs of the recession was the dying out of newspapers. I got married last July, and my new husband and I moved two states away so that he could start his career. I figured that if I couldn’t find something in news, I’d still be able to do PR work or something of the like. I was unemployed for three months, after which I started at the only thing I could find: I went back to my college job of working in a book store. Ten months after I left the newspaper, I have now found a wonderful job that I love in development at an institute of higher education. Still, I’ll never quite forget the guilt I felt while unemployed and working part-time retail to make ends meet. Everyone kept trying to cheer me up by saying that at least it happened early, at least I wasn’t 50 and having to start over. My heart breaks for people who find themselves in that type of circumstance. I must say, though, being 25, newly married and with a substantial mound of private school debt for a degree now useless was pretty heartbreaking. I have since talked to many young people out of college with similar situations. Many of them are angry…many of them feel like they can’t complain about their situations. Like me before I found my new job, whenever they mention their indignation at having a four year degree and still competing with high school grads, they invariably get the mention of the 50-year-old working dad who is now unemployed. Even though this is brought up as some type of encouragement, it leaves them feeling selfish and guilty. Like I said, I now have a job I do love, but I still don’t know what my career will be. The career I thought I was building for myself died in the recession, and I’m not sure what the future holds. I’m just thankful I’m employed.

  • Posted by Sailor Girl on August 28, 2009 2:04 PM

    Yes, I too am starting over. Although this was my second career, this one hurts the most. I’m still paying off my MBA (International Business and Marketing) and looking for a job since I was recently laid off. I’ve investing a lot of money into my education and continue to improve my knowledge and skills.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out as E Kay or have been invested for a while like T Miller and myself. Don’t let anyone make you feel selfish when you acknowledge that as most of are, you are hurting.

    We all bear some responsibility in buying into the greed mentality that Wall Street and K Street has and still is selling. Hopefully, the new discretion trends will continue once pent-up demand outweighs fear, and the aggregate unemployment rate is back below 5%.

    No one listened to Greenspan when he commented on irrational exuberance; now we’re paying for it.

  • Posted by Roger on September 1, 2009 2:33 PM


  • Posted by Matt H on September 2, 2009 4:50 AM

    Sadly, this real estate collapse has basically confirmed the expectations my wife and I formed in 2006 when we noticed half the books in the personal-finance section at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore were “make money fast by flipping houses.” Since then we have basically lived on my salary, dividing her salary among savings, charitable giving, and a few modest luxuries.

    Now we’re glad we were so careful: both of us are still employed and hope to remain so, but should one of us get laid off we’ve got enough reserves to last us a while.

  • Posted by Laura R on September 21, 2009 12:40 PM

    Starting over? I am in the final week of my job since my official last day with my non-profit agency is September 30. We’ve been going through redeployments, early retirements and changes in our benefits for the last year. We all took a salary cut last March. My friends all kept asking me if I was nervous about my job; naive me thought I was safe since I know I’m good at my job and I work in the fund-raising field. Little did I know. I was blindsided in July when I was told that I was one of two people being laid off (we’ve frozen lots of positions).

    Now I’m seriously considering relocating out of state for the first time in my life. I recently relocated my senior parents to my town with the idea that they would be near me to make it easier to care for them as they moved into their 80’s. If I get this job, it is going to really effect my mother.

    Luckily, it is a wonderful opportunity and I do feel blessed that I would continue to have a great career and wouldn’t have to go on unemployment. Plus, I’d keep my health care benefits. As a person with on-going health issues and a long list of prescriptions, this is of great concern for me. I am also single, so I have no one else who will help pay the rent or whose benefit package I can link onto.

    Losing a job effects so many other parts of our lives. If one has to relocate, all the benefits that comes with it, the emotional feelings, etc.

  • Posted by Fred on October 19, 2009 4:15 PM

    The recession has not forced me to start over, but it has forced me to scale back on my personal expenditures, due to less business.

  • Posted by Denise on November 2, 2009 1:02 PM

    I had had a full-time job for 18 months. It was the first one I’d found since finishing graduate school 6 years prior. For the first time, I had full medical and dental benefits from a job and a 401(k). It was boring but really, really nice.

    I was laid off in June and am now working part time for $10 more a week than unemployment. I’ve used up my severence and am back to living paycheck to paycheck. If the Obama stimulus plan hadn’t reduced the cost of COBRA for me by 60%, I would have no health insurance.

    My 401(k)only made it up to $1300, so it’s just sitting there.

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