This is NOT our nation's first financial crisis. This is NOT our nation's worst financial crisis.
So why does it prey so heavily on my mind?
Well, it IS the first financial crisis where I've been paying attention to my personal finances.
I wasn't around for the great depression of 1929. My parents were, of course, and it affected the rest of their financial lives in a positive way. But their caution did not rub off on their daughter. Maybe a financial crisis is something you have to live through in order to learn from?
But I was present for the oil price surge of 1973-1975 where stocks slumped 45%.
Of course, 1973 was the year I finished graduate school and got my first real job--I joined VISTA, the earlier incarnation of Americorps, and set out to save the world while earning $200 a month (and getting food stamps!). Being poor was noble, I had no savings, and nothing going on in the stock market really affected my personal life. If there was an internet, I had no knowledge of it.
The leveraged buyout bust (and subsequent 36% drop in the stock market) occurred in 1987. Where was I? Not saving for retirement, that's for certain. I was deep into motherhood, caring for a seriously disturbed child (with all the attendent psychiatric bills) and merrily charging up my credit cards. I vaguely knew there was a crisis out there, but, again, it didn't seem to affect my personal life.
Then there was the tech collapse of 2000-2002 during which stocks dipped 38%. I heard about that one, but I wasn't invested in tech stocks. In fact, I had just started serious retirement savings and was sticking close to index mutual funds. I got quarterly statements, but had no easy way to check on my 401(k) balances daily.
Then came 2007-2008. Suddenly, I'm worried about retirement, blogging intently, and really, really paying attention to the stock market and my personal expenses.
I need to remind myself that the cyclical return on stocks will occur whether or not I'm watching, and that what goes down, will (assuming the historical record is correct) eventually go back up.