Recession Economics

by Bethany Ball

 

Since I took my first New York City job nearly fifteen years ago, I have always been on the wrong side of financial history. My first job was in publishing house twenty-five years old, making twenty two thousand dollars a year. This was at the time when an enterprising college grad could make one hundred and fifty thousand at a nebulous place called Anderson Consulting. Still it was a lot of money to me at the time. I’d just arrived to New York from Santa Fe where I’d been living off about half that.  Plus, in New York, I got health insurance. It wasn’t that it was such a small salary; it was just that my income wasn’t subsidized. No fiancé, no wealthy boyfriend slipping me thousand dollar checks, no parents helping me out. I was on my own. After I’d moved to another company for the princely sum of twenty six thousand, I was once again on the wrong side of things: a majority of the other companies agreed to pay their employees no lower than thirty thousand. All the other companies, that is, except mine.

Even once I found my way to the dot-com world, which bumped my salary up considerably (my managing editor laughed when I told her how much I stood to make once I left her company, “You’ll make that in ten years, here.”) I found out that one of my co-workers, younger than me and with less experience had negotiated a much larger salary then I had. She clearly knew what was what. What had seemed like so much money to me was nothing compared to what my co-workers brought home. Money was flush in those dot-com years. It was the Sex and the City years of ten-dollar Cosmos and four hundred dollar Manolo Blahniks. But I didn’t know that. I couldn’t afford cable.

And then I got married. “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man,” my mother had told me, as everyone’s mother does.  And my husband was rich. At least, he was rich to me. When we went out to dinner, he picked up the check. For the first time in my adult life I discovered the appetizer menu. We’d married right away so that he could stay in the States and now there was always money in my bank account. No more scrounging around in the floor of my closets for subway money. Things were going well. After a move to Miami and back, we got a sweet deal on the top floor of a friend’s townhouse in the West Village. Our friend rented it to us for almost half its market value. This was after my son was born and I spent every good weather day avoiding the Sex and the City tour bus lines and peering into Marc Jacobs’ window on Bleecker as I made my way to Magnolia Bakery before crossing the street to the park. I loved my sun-filled apartment, and pushing my son in his MacLaren all around the city.

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Surviving Financial Disaster by Giving Something Away for Free

by Sara Morgan

 

Last year I had the great fortune to receive not one, but three major personal and financial blows in my life. “Fortune”, you say?  “Are you nuts?” Nah, I just finally realized that it is the biggest challenges in life that give us the biggest opportunities.

Admittedly things have been a little rough. Most of my friends think I have gone mad. No one understands why I will not just give up this dream of mine and go get a “real job”. Some days I see their point, but the bottom line is that all I have left is my integrity. I have sold almost everything else, but my integrity is priceless.

Two months ago, when I realized that no one was buying my book about escaping Corporate America and no one was hiring me for contract jobs due to the Recession, I decided to take a chance and do something I have always wanted to do. You see, I love to help people help themselves. Empowering other people empowers me.

So, I decided to use my skills as a professional technical writer and my 15 years of experience as a software developer and create a do-it-yourself web design guide. The guide would be written in a very conversational style and would only include the bare minimum of what someone needed to know to get a professional web site up and running. I used every minute and every brain cell to pound out what I think is a pretty exceptional guide. My best work yet.

Initially, I planned on selling the guide for $25 each. Certainly a 137 page guide that was this thorough would be worth that. But last weekend, I had a burst of inspiration and decided to go a different route. In the spirit of the Internet and that information should be made free; I am giving the guide away to anyone that signs-up on my web site at www.custsolutions.net.

That’s right. I am giving it away. Most people that have downloaded it so far are amazed that I am doing this, but it makes sense to me. I know this is the only way I can truly reach the most people possible and empower them to reach for their dreams. True, I get no money and I still have no way to pay next month’s mortgage, but I got that integrity. And, that is what life is all about – at least for me it is.

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