Friday, 3 April 2009

The Bright Side of the Recession

I’m really fed up with hearing about this recession. If it’s not doom and gloom on the radio, or knowing that there’s no point in trying to sell my house, it’s seeing some of my favourite shops close down. I had a very nice MFI kitchen installed a couple of homes ago, Whittards did the most wonderful hot chocolate varieties, and one of my earliest memories is my mother getting Wedgwood for her collection each Christmas.

There is evidence of worrying effects of the credit crunch on the LawCare helpline too. In the first six months of 2008 – before the credit crunch started to bite – only 7% of calls were about matters such as redundancy, firms struggling, or fully qualified solicitors unable to find work. The current figure is 24%. For a charity which helps primarily with stress, depression and addiction, it’s quite something when one in every four calls is from a lawyer facing problems because of the economic downturn. How many more didn’t call the helpline because they imagined that their employment related issue was outside our remit? (Let me state here, if it’s causing you stress, then we’re here to help!)

Anyway, I think it’s high time we looked at the brighter side of the current financial situation. Yes, we are all facing problems, but there are upsides to it all.
  • Things are getting cheaper. Shops and supermarkets are having to cut prices, and there are some excellent bargains to be had. Even petrol is getting cheaper, and electricity and gas are predicted to follow.
  • Your mortgage is also much cheaper than it was this time last year. I know ours is, and I apparently one lucky couple have seen their repayments drop from £1,500 per month to 1p.
  • Many of us are learning the lesson our grandparents tried to teach us – that you can’t always have what you want. If you don’t have the cash for it, you can’t have it. The credit bubble has burst and we are learning to be grateful and satisfied with what we have. After all, what’s the point of trying to keep up with the Joneses, if the Joneses are only one late-payment away from the bailiffs arriving?
  • First time buyers can finally afford to buy a home of their own. I live in the South East, and recently saw a habitable flat advertised in my local paper for £50,000. OK, so it was in a grotty part of town, but it could be the first rung on the property ladder for some young couple.
  • Businesses are having to be more creative, competitive and consumer-driven in order to survive. More niche markets are being catered for, and both small firms and large corporations are learning not to take their clients and customers for granted.
  • Lots of people had an extra-long Christmas and New Year break, so extra time to spend with their friends and loved ones. In the car industry, some were away from work (on full pay) for over a month.
  • With the poor value of the pound, more of us will be holidaying the UK, giving a boost to our tourist industry and helping us to better appreciate this beautiful land of ours and all that it has to offer.
  • Banks are no longer throwing money at all and sundry without regard to whether they can, or will, pay it back. And we’re no longer being bombarded by junk mail urging us to take out loans or credit cards.

If your job is relatively secure, and you don’t desperately need to sell your house for any reason, then the recession needn't affect you too badly. Sit tight, keep paying the mortgage, and ride it out. And if this doesn’t apply to you, remember that LawCare is always available to provide support and advice.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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