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