Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 26, 2009
Seeking hope when times are tough
Many are caught in economic downdraft through no fault of their own
BY LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Edmonton — Statistics can blindside humanity as today’s blaring headlines shout out laments from companies cutting jobs, downsizing, or even closing up shop.
“You see stories saying 70,000 people lost their jobs,” says Denise Young. “Well, that is 70,000 individuals.”
An associate professor in the department of economics at the University of Alberta, Young underlines the problems that arise when society gets caught up in the numbers game and misses the fact each number represents a human being whose economic life depends on that pay cheque.
“It’s hard not to take it personally,” says Young. “For many, your job is part of your identity – how you see yourself. And it’s also how you pay your bills, pay the rent, buy the groceries.”
Bottom line, says the economist, “You are caught in the upswings and downswings of the economy.”
The constant uncertainty wears on even those who still have their jobs.
“It can be really hard for people who have never lived through a recession before – those in their mid-30s,“ says Young. “But economic upswings and downswings are only temporary. Some may only last a few months. They are temporary. It is not as though everything is going to last forever.”
When asked to polish her crystal ball and venture when this recession will taper off, Young laughs and replies, “Meteorologists are a lot better at forecasting than economists. But historically recessions are not permanent just the same as booms are not permanent.”
Should the pink slip happen, Young offers several strategies.
Some are lucky enough to have another family member who has not lost their job and can carry the major expenses. Or they have a good support system that can give short–term help.
Many wonder if they should cash in their savings and investments?
“It really depends on when you need that money,” advises Young. If one is retiring in 15 to 20 years this roller coaster ride on the market is just paper losses.
“Unless you have to cash things in right now, just leave them,” she says. “A financial advisor — and they usually don’t charge that much — can assess what your personal risk tolerance and needs are.
ConsumerReports.org offers tips on how to recession proof your finances.
“But it’s hard when you are on a fixed income, especially when you are relying on income from past savings. It’s going to hurt right now.”
PRIDE GETS IN YOUR WAY
Her face softens as she says “I wish there was something that would make things better.”
In the meantime, reach out for help – family, friends, agencies.
If pride gets in your way, remember how many times you gave and helped others.
“It’s okay to reach out for help when you need it,” assures Young.
Retraining is another option. Before you mutter “I’m too old,” hear Young out.
“My own father retrained in his 50s. He was a land surveyor and for health reasons could no longer do that. He got into a training program – a one-year business program and it helped him get an office job.”
HOPELESSNESS SETS IN
As mentioned before, too many tie our job to our identity and self-worth. Billionaire Adolf Merckle, one of Germany’s wealthiest men, committed suicide after the global recession devastated his business empire. He was struck by a train not far from his home.
Don’t let that happen to you.
“Volunteer where you can feel you are actually contributing,” Young suggests. “Pray. If you are praying, you are not praying alone. Prayer is part of the process that helps you keep in perspective what is really important in life.”
And again reach out for help.
“Call Catholic Social Services and other agencies to find out what kind of support is out there,” underlines Young.