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The Silver Lining of Hitting Rock Bottom

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I was talking with a friend a little over a month ago. There have been rumors of potential job cuts at the company I work at. He knows that I have a side gig (this blog as well as other websites), so he correctly assumed that I wasn't too worried. I know he doesn't have a side income, so I asked him how he felt about the doom and gloom rumors. He said that he was a little nervous, but he's been very, very actively networking in the his career field... it is just his nature. There's a good chance he'd have a pick of several other job offers before too long if he needs them.

However, in our discussion he made a point that I would like to share with you today: "people like us wouldn't have the big problems that others might". What he meant by that is that we were both software engineers during tough economic times... times where software engineers simply weren't being hired anywhere. While this was a depressing, low-point in my life (and possibly his), its effects are profound in our lives today. We had to adapt and learn a couple of survival skills.

The most important one was how to save money. When you have limited income, you learn to adapt your lifestyle to match it. I wasn't going out to prime rib dinners every night. I judiciously added cheaper foods to my diet like rice, beans, and even Ramen noodles. I don't recommend the Ramen noodle path for the long term, but supplementing it with increased exercise (jogging is cheap and helps build endorphins to make you feel better) made it manageable for me. It is very, very easy for me to turn on the frugal switch. I imagine that if my job has cuts others will have to learn that skill.

The other important survival skill I learned was not to put all my eggs in one basket. By having one income, that was essentially what I was doing. So I created this website with the idea of exploring other kinds of income. I've looked into things like peer-to-peer lending (which has been mostly a bust in hindsight) and real estate (also a bust with the drop over the last 4+ years). Ironically, the thing that wasn't a bust was this website (and others), which have provided me the parachute of a second income. The lesson I learned is that if you provide value to other people, you will get value back for yourself. Some of that value is delivered in money from advertisers, more of it is delivered in comments they leave and kind emails that people send me.

Maybe that's why there's a recurring theme in a couple of my favorite songs about how you have to lose so that you can win. Click on the videos below and sing along with me!

(Before anyone comments wisely I am keenly aware that the above song is the only good thing to come out of Rocky V.)

Posted on September 30, 2010.

This post deals with:

... and focuses on:

Alternative Income, Psychology

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8 Responses to “The Silver Lining of Hitting Rock Bottom”

  1. Matt says:

    For better or worse, we’re all going to have to learn to live on multiple revenue streams. The days of dependence on only one income seems to be a post-World War II phenomenon that looks to be turning out to be an anomoly of economic history, not the rule.

  2. I jumped into real estate full time in the last 2 years. I think folks think I’m crazy. I’m practicing in this market. Will be an expert and making exponential (hopefully) changes in an improving market. Started a blog as well — want to eventually create a membership site to educate new investors in real estate.

  3. Todd says:

    While I’m not a fan or Robert kiyosaki, one of the things that I did pick up from him was to have multiple streams of income. While it was not the only reason that I began blogging, it certainly was in the top two or three.

  4. Being debt-free and having a side income would be a powerful combination!

    I really need to look at ways to develop a decent side income :)

    That said, just being debt-free took some of the sharpness out of the last recession for me! I was worried, but not to a point of obsession…

  5. Jeremy says:

    Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom in order to come out victorious in the end.

  6. Tisha says:

    Oh yes, there are true gems to be taken advantage of in hard times; it’s hard to see sometimes, but some of the best lessons I’ve learned have been when I’ve had to tighten up my boot-straps and figure out a way to get by. It was job loss, bankruptcy and a short sale on my home that led me to content writing, internet marketing and blogging and although I’ve still got a ways to go before it’s my full-time income, I can definitely see that happening in the not too distant future. Gotta be grateful for the rough patches – they yield the best fruit!

  7. This is such great advice.

    I’m an IT Manager and I worked at a startup during the dotcom crash. I was out of work for six months before I found a new job. Having low expenses and some savings is everything. I am working on the second income, which is why I started my blog.

  8. Really thoughtful post. I couldn’t agree more…it’s so incredibly corny, but there really is something to be learned from any bad situation…and in the case of “rock bottom,” it sucks when you’re there, but the fact that you can get out of it means that you had to have learned some amazing skills and lessons…definitely the best for me from being down in the financial slums was learning how to save so much money and how to really separate my “wants” from “needs.”

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