COMMENTARY | For three years I've been living much like a stereotypical college student. All of my furniture is secondhand and not in the best of shape. My couch is missing half a cushion and my chair has a large rip in a very obvious place on the fabric. It is the type of living room you'd expect to find in a college apartment. Except I'm not a college student - I'm just a very cautious adult.
The most expensive things in my life - like my furniture, appliances, and my car started to fall apart at the start of the recession, but I was hesitant to spend a lot of money when I wasn't sure if I'd have a job in the coming weeks. So I skipped kept living with what I had for nearly two years and then I lost my source of income. Another year went by while I was living on my savings and meager unemployment.
Finally, I found a new job, but I've still be afraid to make any big purchases. The recession has made me incredibly cheap and far too cautious. I had a long list of things I either didn't have or needed to replace and the money to do it, but I worry about spending in an uncertain economy.
A few months ago I finally bought some new work clothes. It was the first bigger retail purchase I had made in over a year. Then last month my father jokingly said I should trash my gross living room furniture and help stimulate the economy.
So I did. I bought a new living room set and a partial bedroom set last month. It felt good to actually spend some of what I earned again, and as it turns out, I'm not alone. A recent article by CNNMoney shows that retails sales grew by 0.8 percent in July. It may not sound like a lot, but before July, retail sales declined for three straight months.
Oddly enough, furniture sales saw one of the larger jumps in spending last month, with a 1.1 percent increase in sales. I thought it was just an interesting fact that I spent money buying the same type of product as many other people last month, but then I read that two-thirds of the nation's economy depends on retail spending, according to CNNMoney. Before learning that, I didn't realize that my refusal to spend money on retail purchases was actually hurting the U.S. economy. In a small way, I was part of the problem. I'm glad to be a part of the solution now, even if it was only by buying a couch and a few odds and ends.
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