While I don't believe every stock I own will hit zero, and that I will have emptied all of my accounts, taking on more credit card bills than my actual assets, what was once trivial is eye-opening. While many say the smartest thing to do during this trying time is to not look at all, for me it's like a horrible accident on the highway. You can't help but slow down and take a peek. But unlike most of those accidents, there's actually more blood than expected.
My Holdings Are a Complete Disaster this Year (FriendFeed Discussion)
After a mild Spring and Summer that had my investments slightly trending downward, we all know what happened next - a massive cratering that has seen nearly everybody's financial situation turned upside down. 401ks and mutual funds that used to be stable and trusted are actually performing worse than the very worst individual stocks I've picked. One of the funds I am in dropped 24 percent last week, and another fell by more than 17 percent.
In six months, names that used to have the word "Trusted" next to their name are anything but. Fidelity. Citibank. Washington Mutual? Lehman? And yes, we know other companies in the news were less safe - General Motors, Sirius, eTrade itself... but as my own holdings are plummeting, it seems there is no safe place to turn, no "safe" investment to hold the money until things improve, be it in six months, two years, or more. Forget about Web 2.0 companies being shaky. Everybody's shaky.
For me personally, in years past, in the occasional case where I've needed to spend more money than I've had in my Wells Fargo Account, whether it be to pay year-end tithing for church, or to pay taxes, I've always known I can dip into my eTrade account and move money around as a backup. Now, that safety net has been eroded to the point I don't know that I can do that if I need to. I don't believe I'm going bankrupt, whether Mint.com thinks so or not, but unless something changes soon, we're definitely going to be putting off purchases, getting more frugal and settling for something less than we really want a whole lot more often.
And maybe I won't be logging into Mint.com all that often just to prove how bad things are.