After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.
-- Warren Buffet, Chairman's Letter in the Berkshire Hathaway's 2001 Annual Report
When I first entered the job market 10 years ago, back in 2010, it felt like the beginning of spring. Hope was appearing in what was the depths of the financial recession. It was tough finding a job; it took me 5 months. I still remember, at the time, all the companies wanted experienced people. While I was confident of my skills, it was a cycle where I needed experience to get a job that would give me the experience that I needed that shut me out. When I finally found one, I was so grateful.
I worked hard and lived frugally, with the difficulty of finding a job and earning an income firmly imprinted in my mind. I was keenly aware of the precariousness of my situation and worked hard to gain more solid footing. That has paid off and now, 10 years later, I feel that I am in a much better position to weather any storm.
Up until 2013, it seemed that the economy was teetering on the edge. Then, summer came. From 2014 until 2016, it seemed that there was no way to fail. Software development was in high demand, and I was in the middle of it all. However, the economy was slowing down again.
Then, Trump won the election. 2017 through 2019 saw an economy that was even stronger than before, and one I didn't think was even possible. This was the time when things were becoming expensive. Where bargains were once common place, now reasonable prices were rare. Lots of money were being spent, and not all of the purchases were of solid value, at least from my perspective. Things ranging from houses to smartphones were the most expensive they've ever been.
Then, 2020 came around. Due to China's initial suppression of the coronavirus spread, the disease spread into a pandemic, and the world was plunged into an extended lockdown. Fortunately, I was able to keep my job throughout this time, but my girlfriend, for example, went half a year without working. I imagine there are many people out there who are in a similar situation as her. People especially in the service industry have been the most impacted by the pandemic and lockdowns.
Today, I read some news about how one in three households had trouble making ends meet right before the pandemic or 78% of people were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic. I think that is a nearly hopeless situation to be in - when the ship is that deep in the water during calm weather, it doesn't take much of a storm to sink it.
In the eternal debate regarding whether being an optimist is better versus being a pessimist, this is a real world situation where being a pessimist is better. I feel like to be in such a situation and to be optimistic about the future is alarming. As a pessimist, I would have offloaded as much as I could to lighten the ship when things were calm.
This year is becoming tougher, and is a sign that winter has come. There's pressure from my employer. The job market is also more demanding. Now that winter has come, I'm glad that I stored up some reserves during the summer.