The View From Your Recession

A reader writes:

What recession? My wife and I, both in our mid-30's, are doing better financially than ever before. 

Three years ago we lived a comfortable "yuppie" life in DC in a neighborhood we loved (Logan Circle area). I work in communications/media, my wife in NGO work. We owned a souped up Honda we only drove on the weekends for fun; an expensive gym membership at Sports Club LA in DC; and we both had frequent international travel for work and ample money for eating out.

We rented, despite the constant drumbeat from friends and family who said renting was "throwing away" money. All the places we liked in DC to buy were too expensive at the time. I did not bother with 401K, as I was unconvinced it was such a great deal everyone was making it out to be. We lived good, but also kept stashing away money in savings account. Three years ago I wiggled my way into being re-located by my company to the largest city in Latin America to open an office. Wife and I jumped at the chance, even though it was a huge risk personally and professionally. My company sent me with little resources, so by necessity, I set up a very cost effective operation. I had no other choice.

Three years later, and my wife and I are still based in same city abroad and are doing better financially than any other time in our lives. We have zero credit card debt. I have job security, because the cost effective operation I set up here is now the "model" my company is using for other international offices as they look to ways to cut costs, as most companies now days. Meanwhile, my two cousins back in the USA who were urging me to buy a home for so many years, have foreclosed on their homes. One declared bankruptcy. All my friends over the years who said I was stupid and throwing money away by not taking part in any 401k plans, have seen their 401k's value crash.

A lot of our situation has been luck, and a little bit skill. I do feel for everyone back in the USA that are suffering now. I do not know what to make of our case. It is what it is. I do not take it for granted. But 40 years from now, when we are sitting around with friends who talk about how bad things were back in 2008 and 2009, we won't have much to add to the conversation. So far.