While watching the financial world basically go to all hell, I feel like a zebra running from a lion in the hopes that he'll snatch someone else in the herd. I've only been in the workforce for a couple years, and like me, most people my age probably dodged a few major bullets recently. I didn't buy property coming out of school, I didn't make risky investments, and most of my retirement is in my 401(k). While my 401(k) took a hit, I wasn't going to touch it until retirement anyway. Thankfully, my friends and I aren't affected as directly as the over-30 crowd, but we still face a shaky economy, credit isn't as readily available, discretionary income is diminished, and jobs are harder to find.
One of my friends started working for Freddie Mac about a year ago, and they gave him a $10,000 stake as a signing bonus. Needless to say, that bonus has all but disappeared while Freddie Mac's CEO walked away with millions. As a side note, my friend is in the process of recruiting for the company at college campuses; I can't imagine how tough that has to be right now.
Some of my friends work freelance and feel lucky to even get work at all now. One of my friends had to move back in with his parents, and nearly all my friends live with several roommates, myself included. Only one friend of mine owns her own place. The American Dream seems farther out of reach than ever.
As odd as this may sound to some, one safe bet I've made during these times is going against the word of Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Basically if he recommends something now, I'll rush to do the exact opposite. For example: a few months ago, he was telling people to sell their gold. Naturally upon hearing this, I bought a good amount of it as a hedge against inflation and-God forbid-a recession or depression. Literally the next week, the value of gold shot up in the double digits. My only regret is that I didn't buy more when I had the chance; now it's tougher to come by.