In The Right Lessons and The Wrong Lessons, I said the right lessons from the recession and the bear market are “so simple they don’t need any further explanation.” A reader Mark suggested that I shouldn’t be so dismissive.
“If you tell him/her it’s so simple that he should be ashamed of himself for failing to grasp your full meaning, then your are negating that investors desire to learn – in effect saying ‘do it because I said so.'”
After thinking about it for a little longer, I agree with Mark. So I decided to write down what exactly I learned personally from the recession. These will serve as notes to myself in the future. I apologize if the lessons look so obvious. I hope there is enough personal flavor to make them more interesting.
The first lesson I learned: Keep Your Job.
After the recession, I come to realize how important it is to keep my job. My employer had a RIF in 4th quarter 2008. Fortunately I survived. The company didn’t pay a year-end bonus like it used to. Nor did it give a “merit increase” to anybody in 2009. I expect my 2009 income to be 10% less than what I earned in 2008.
A 10% pay cut is nothing compared to losing a job. This blog would get more interesting with my unemployment stories, but it wouldn’t be fun for me. I have an emergency fund. I prefer not to use it. I don’t want to find out how unemployment insurance works in my state.
I want to make sure I add enough value to my employer so they would keep employing me. I used to goof off sometimes during working hours and post on forums, tweet, or reply to comments on my blog. I’m weaning off from such activities. I installed a Firefox browser plugin called LeechBlock. It’s a voluntary Internet filtering program. You tell it which sites to block between which hours on which days and it will block them.
It’s fun to post on forums, tweet, and reply to comments on my blog. I get some thank-you’s from time to time, but those won’t pay the bills. Although I get some money from ads on this blog, the ad dollars are far too small relative to what I earn from my job.
I’m aware that some successful bloggers can earn over $200,000 a year from their blogs, I don’t think I will ever get there. I’m a very shy person. I’m not good at self-promotion or networking. I take a “if there’s value, people will see it” approach (or is it “if you build it, they will come”?).
In late 2008, I was asked to contribute a chapter to the book The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning. This book got published recently (I’m still waiting for my copy). It turned out that among some 20 contributing authors, I’m the only one under a pseudonym. Of course I would love to see my contribution recognized by my real name, but I don’t want to jeopardize my job in any way, now or in the future.
Not knowing what lies in the future, I decided to keep my non-work related activities from my future employers. I don’t think it makes any difference to readers of the book or this blog what my real name is.
For the foreseeable future, I will earn my living from my job. I’d like to keep my job and grow my employability. If you see that I post on the blog or forums less frequently, please excuse me. Keeping my job is really important to me.
[This post contains a link to Amazon.com. Amazon.com will pay a commission of 4% – 6.5% to me if you make a purchase within 24 hours after you click on the link.]