I looked up the term "recession" this morning to try to understand what particular economic imbalance I should have been feeling since this time last year, when the experts say our economic recession began.
Wikipedia tells me it's a "decline in a country's gross domestic product (GDP)"...or, more simply, "reduced economic activity"... or, speaking on my level, we have less - so we spend less. The most dramatic impact recession has on us Main Street dwellers circles around our employment. When business owners feel the economy slowing, they are less likely to be generous in hiring, promoting, and giving raises. So, for many of us, that means we're working more hours for no more pay to get work finished without adequate resources. Or, we're fearing our jobs will end soon. Or, we're searching for jobs without success.
If you can pinpoint when these concerns began...you can locate the beginning of the recession in your life. Mine began in early April.
There are some bonuses for folks who feel their jobs are secure in spite of the financial slowdown. Prices are dropping on everything from homes to bread. I heard someone say recently that what we're experiencing economically is "the ceiling on greed." It seems we may be watching the fall of unfettered money grubbing, which ultimately (apparently) insists on a new way.
If that's the case, I'd say the name of this recession is God. But, I wouldn't want to be accused of being a religious goofball, so I'll leave sweeping conclusions for you to ponder.
So, let me tell you what I did last weekend with my tight recession dollars. I invested in two small businesses. One in Paraguay...and one Ghana. In truth, it was my graduate student son's very tight money I invested, via a gift certificate at Kiva.org.
This was the coolest gift certificate redemption ever!
With $50 credit, I was able to peruse the Kiva website and read the stories of hundreds of microcredit applicants, hoping for very small loans to fund their dreams. I settled on two beautiful, hard-working people: Joyce, in Ghana, who operates a small tailoring business in order to pay for her brilliant young son's school; and Marcos, in Paraguay, who runs a street clothing kiosk to earn money to pay for college.
I am amazed by how little these people need...and by how much can be accomplished in the big, wide world with $25. I didn't completely fund Joyce or Marcos in their endeavors, but am part of a collaboration of "loaners" who participate in small ways to make these incredible, life-giving loans. And here's the best part: these are loans. When I'm paid back (via Kiva) I can re-invest the cash in another small business!
It made me feel rich...very rich. And ridiculous for carrying any grief at all over diving 401Ks or declining stocks. It's my current prescription for Recession depression - kiva.org.
Check it out. Breathe. Give thanks. Give money.
You'll feel like a millionaire.