Editor’s Note: Years ago, when I first began blogging, I wrote about the financial collapse of Greece. It turned out that this was a culmination of years of mismanagement (isn’t it always?). While in Greece, I have met a lot of people who have told me about how the collapse affected them personally. The thing that most people don’t realize is that things didn’t just magically get better when the EU stepped in. There are now supplies available in stores, but average people are still struggling to meet their daily needs. Many work 2-3 jobs. Others find things to sell and set up on the side of the road, hoping to make some money from passersby. It’s a beautiful country with warm, vibrant people, delicious food, and a rich culture. I am so fortunate to have spent time here researching the aftermath of the collapse.
My friend Aris is one of the people with whom I spoke. He has kindly written this article to share his observations. Please give him a warm welcome and feel free to ask questions that will lead to future articles. ~ Daisy
Being Greek always meant that any foreign person that you run into would be glad meeting you and he would mention things like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, Santorini, Mykonos, and maybe souvlaki or a common bad word.
But over the last 9 years the same foreign guy who met a fellow human Greek would mention some other issues such as: when the crisis started, what led to the crisis, who’s to blame for, did people starve to death, did they commit suicide, etc. etc.
Every Greek, of course, has his own version which is totally natural. Not even two persons share the same version of reality. Everyone has a view of his own which reflects his way of thinking, his economical and social status, his unique character and personality.
I’m not the exception to the rule and what you are about to read in this and all my other pieces is my point of view, my personal description, my feelings… I will not try to be objective, but I’m not going to take any political or social side. It’s my side only. the side of an ordinary guy who got in a dangerous situation for 9 years and counting…
Maybe someone will say: “Hey, man the Greek crisis is over. That’s what your politicians say for a couple of years now”.
Greek politicians and their handling of THE truth is a bit “flexible,” to express it in a moderate way…
The crisis isn’t over.
For starters, my opinion is that the economic crisis in Greece hasn’t ended. Here’s why :
- Salaries are still almost -50% down than the years before the crisis.
- The pensions of retirees have suffered the biggest cutbacks. They had the biggest survival issues as they were the least capable to find alternative sources of income. They were the big victims, especially those with the basic pensions…
- No matter what you hear about annual excess, base rates, foreign investors, etc., the real everyday economy in which an average Greek lives is still in deep crisis. And excuse me but no matter what politicians, bankers, high ranked EU officials say. my life is still on the edge as is the life of 95% of the Greek population.
Maybe what you listen to and read in mass media is more optimistic, but I walk the same streets where for the past years the number of out-of-business stores still remains the same and I meet the same miserable, struggling people. The number of homeless people in the center of Athens didn’t decrease. Many work two and three jobs.
In my pieces that you’ll read here, you will find the things a guy like you witnessed and lived during a very difficult time for him his family and friends, but mostly for his country. I’m not an economy expert, I’m a middle-class fighter like you who wants to live with dignity and maybe make true some silly dreams like a trip to a favorite place, a nice car, a life without constant fear for tomorrow…
How the collapse began…or when people became aware of it
On the 23 of April 2010, our prime minister G. Papandreou visits Kastelorizo, an island in the east end of Greece. There, he announces that our country needs help from the IMF and from the EU in order to deal with the national debt.
G. Papandreou was elected 7 months earlier using as his strong argument against the previous government the phrase “There is money.” He meant that there’s plenty of money to use but the previous government didn’t use it. Well, after 7 months we found out that there wasn’t any money but only a huge state debt… I’ll try some other time to explain how this debt was created over 30-40 years because it didn’t appear all of a sudden.
I was 40 years old at that time. I was working as a DJ in various cafes and bars and I owned a small convenience store with my now ex-wife. My two parents were retired and my brother was working at a small factory. We had all had signs that things weren’t that prosperous for some years after in 2004-2005 everything started not to go well economy-wise.
But nobody expected what was about to follow. We Greeks were until then stupidly reassuring ourselves that OK it’s a minor setback, a couple of bad years for the economy, the EU will help us, money is no issue.
However, it wasn’t a crisis that suddenly occurred. It was like rain which started normally and as time passed the rain kept became stronger and stronger and in the end, it flooded the whole place. By the time we realized it, it was too late.
What you can do to prepare for a bad economy
We still think back to what we could have done as individuals or as a country to prevent it. Probably nothing, but maybe as individuals we could have protected ourselves so the consequences weren’t so harsh.
I will give you some advice that may come in handy even though I really hope there will be no such occasion for you, my dear reader.
Here is stuff to do before or after a crisis :
- Balance your income outcome. At a minimum, spend less than you make even by 10-20 euros, dollars per month. Don’t overspend which will lead you to borrow from friends or family or even worse a bank (credit cards, loans, etc). They will demand their money back and maybe at a time that is very difficult for your pocket.
- If you are an employee, secure your main source of income. Try at your job to be as reliable and crisis-proof as you can. Do not depend on unstable employers who can’t protect their business (and your job) from the ups and downs of the market.
- If you have your own business keep your balances tight. Don’t make risky moves that in case of failure will drag your whole business down. No big loans from banks, no debts to business associates.
- In everything you want to plan for the future two outcomes may occur a good and a bad… be prepared for both.
- Always consider that you are part of a bigger picture that’s called the market. No matter how well you do, being a part of something that big means you can’t escape what happens to the rest.
- Have a backup plan for the worst-case scenario. Maybe another kind of job that could come in handy, maybe some cash that will bail you out in bad situations.
- When things go wrong they probably get worse. Don’t be optimistic when there is nothing to support your optimism. There’s always something even worse than you ever thought of that can occur.
- Don’t be sentimental with anything that has to do with your job and money. Maybe you’ll have to sell your family business maybe your favorite car maybe move to a smaller house. You may need to make small sacrifices in order to protect your future and secure your present days.
- Don’t get stuck to the way you lived until yesterday. Things change, people and ways of life too…
- When it comes to money shortage, there are always two solutions: make more or spend less. Sometimes you get the option to pick sometimes you have to combine.
- Prioritize your needs and money spending, not everything is equally important.
- Don’t make moves according to what friends, colleagues, neighbors, TV, radio or a website tells you to do. You know your life, your needs, and your skills better than anyone.
- Remain calm. Make no panic moves. Try to relax your close ones too. There’s always a solution that you haven’t considered yet.
- There are plenty of specialists to give you solutions for stuff that you can’t handle yourself and especially in the legal and tax system. Don’t try to go it alone.
I’m sure that there is much more to add to this list. but I hope that some of them might really help you.
There’s more information coming.
Thanks for spending your valuable time reading this. Let me know the questions you may have for future articles.
This article was sourced from The Organic Prepper.
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