Has 2009 Changed You?

by David Ning · 10 comments

Ready or not, it’s almost the season when we always write down the wrong year. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost certain that I will be writing 2009, slapping my hand and changing it to 2010.

If anything, 2009 was different. The recession, the massive layoffs, the scare of unrecoverable stock market declines, the change in savings rate, and the move towards frugality are just a few of the seismic shifts we experienced as citizens of Earth this year.

With all the interesting headlines, how have 2009 changed you? But before you answer though, it’s only fair that I share with you how 2009 changed me. Here they are.

  1. The Appreciation for Simplicity – One of the great gifts about aging is that you have more appreciation for many aspects of life. For me, simplicity is definitely high up there. In 2009, we realized that money has the potential to evaporate out of thin air, and it’s only those that don’t need much, not the wealthiest, whom stayed truly happy.
  2. Actually, a Further Understand of Simplicity – Baby Sara’s arrival is definitely not a simplification of my life. Yet, it will be one of the happiest event for not only myself, but my whole family. There are exceptions to all rules, and no one should never let a punch line like “pursuing simplicity” to become the excuse of their lives.
  3. Saving and Making Money – A prime example of exceptions. For years, I’ve always thought about frugal living. This year, I came to the understanding that it’s much more efficient for me to spend time making $5 to pay for the $3 latte, instead of feeling deprived. Is $3 for coffee ridiculously expensive in and of itself? Absolutely. Yet, paying for it could still be one of the better decisions you can make.
  4. A Sense of Time – For the first time in my life, I spent the whole year working for myself. When I had a 9-5, I used to think that most of the time I spent everyday had nothing to do with what I was paid for. Meetings, arguments, idea pitches that constantly consumed my time had little to do with actually getting the work done. In a weird way, saving time didn’t seem valuable to me, because more work meant more meetings. I associated more productive with negativity. Now that I work for myself and see that the time I stop wasting is actually worth much more, time became much more important, and something worth the effort to create.
  5. Health is Important – I gained weight this year, and it took a shocking sight at the scale one day to realized that I needed to change my daily habits. Nowadays, I spent quite a bit of time outside of my home in what others would consider unproductive time. Yet, I’m accomplishing more. For one, I’m happier. But just as importantly, I’m healthier, think quicker, and way more efficient at what I need to do.
  6. Money is the Wrong Goal – Money in and of itself is becoming less and less important to me. We talk about money and try to maximize our wealth because it enables us to live more, to learn more and to give more. Find your real goals, and I assure you that it will actually help you achieve your numerical wealth targets much easier than driving yourself nuts with dollar signs.

How about you? How has 2009 changed you? Do you think those will be lasting changes?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • James - The Forex Articles says:

    Well on a personal note, in all the years I’ve been working for myself as a trader and investor, this has been my most profitable year.

    Nevertheless I’m still quite tight with my money, and indeed one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that I don’t need to be spending so much money on things I don’t really need.

    For example subscriptions to magazines I don’t really read, downloading songs that I may only listen to once or twice, web hosting accounts for websites that I’ve lost interest in, etc, etc.

  • marci says:

    I can’t say that the year changed me much at all – except to reinforce my beliefs that I have been on the right track, to increase my thankfulness for the natural bounty of this area I live in, and to increase my appreciation in what are the most valuable assets I have… My Time, My Health, My Family and Friends, and my Ability to Do For Myself all that I am able to.

    Like you mentioned, those who want little materially came thru the year relatively Happy 🙂

    Happy New Year, too.

  • Christie says:

    I’m surprised that no one actually talked about health, which is far more important than ANYTHING ELSE. Money, fame, power, and everything else is useless if you aren’t healthy.

  • In the moment money means nothing. In the big picture of a lifetime, money makes the difference. I appreciate the perspective of earning the $5 so that you can afford the coffee, but every cup of coffee is that much left that goes towards true financial freedom.

    We have been continually improving our finances for years. The impact of 2008-9 have forced us to look at our expenses with a fresh perspective and we found that there is always more that can be saved without a negative impact on quality of life.

    Great coffee is good but does it really matter that much? After all, it’s just hot water with some flavoring.

  • John DeFlumeri Jr says:

    When you have enough money, it’s not the most important thing anymore. But be broke for a while and it goes to the top of the list, or maybe it’s the Only thing you care about.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  • What a tumultuous, eye opening year.

    I do appreciate more the things i have. I’m glad the meltdown happened this year, rather than when I’m older.

    But, as I look around my house, my life, my family and friends, nothing has really changed. We’re still trying to live every day to the fullest.

  • Laura says:

    This year I have learned a lot more about balance. I am a self proclaimed workaholic, working one job (w/ benefits) 32 hours a week and having my own business as well. Thanks to the wonderful man I’ve been with, I have spent the year learning to balance work and play and not hyper focus on the money aspect quite as much. I’m learning to enjoy life a little more and RELAX… while I still have a ways to go, I’m looking forward to 2010.

  • Craig says:

    2009 made me grow up a lot both as a person and financially. I began starting to concentrate on my financial future and started investing accounts and retirement accounts. Also began a new side project for fun. Looking forward to continuuing things in 2010.

  • George says:

    I can see how the arrival of a baby is a big event. Congratulations.

    I totally agree with #3 – Saving vs. Making. (Besides that, I am addicted to Starbucks.) It is so easy to deprive ourselves of the $3 latte for a single day, but doing so makes us less, not more. When we find ways to make an extra $5 (or even $30), then we become more. Deprivation makes us become less, while earning more makes us become more.

    Also, I agree that money is the wrong goal. I think money is not a good goal at all. It is merely a means. A means to achieve things that are more important in life, like freedom or fulfillment or giving.

    Now is definitely a great time to think about our whole year, and to plan to make 2010 even better.

  • Daniel says:

    What I learned in 2009 is that we all want money, which is no surprise, but we all have different ideas about what to do with it, and this is what separates us. Some people like spending it when they are young, and some people prefer to save it for later when they think they’ll want it. There’s no right way of doing things, but I learned how much I value my money and started to realize what my goals are and what I am willing to splurge for.

    There’s no doubt the lessons I learned in 2009 will carry over. Thanks for the post, for some reason it REALLY made me think.

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