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Jim McNees - Better than the last recession
Jim McNees - Better than the last recession
Joe, Megan, Mark, Suzanne and Jim McNees
Senior loan officer, 48
Virginia Beach, Va.

We did not survive the economic downturn of 2001-2002. I was in high tech for over 20 years with experience as a general and regional manager. My wife stayed home during that period to be with our children. My last position in that industry was running a division of a niche supplier to the telecom industry.

The smaller niche companies mostly did not survive the telecom melt down. I felt that I was pretty well connected in the industry, but after six months of looking for a position in the industry, I decided to change careers. Our family had to basically start over in every aspect of our lives.

We re-located to Virginia Beach (two of our children were going to high school and one into middle school) and I got in the mortgage business and my wife got a teaching job. We are now experiencing another industry meltdown in the real estate and mortgage business. We will fare better through this economic situation than we did the last one in 2002.

In many ways we are better off than six years ago and in many ways we are not. The nest egg, stock options and a 20-year career are gone. Financial conservatism, success is a daily mentality, lessons learned and adaptability are here to stay. Everybody in the family is working now and getting used to a toned-down lifestyle.

We have three beautiful children, two in college and one on the way next year. They understand the challenges ahead for them and I believe they will be well prepared to take on life after college.

My advice to others is, don't take anything for granted, live within your means, and when things are good, it's not as good as you think; when things are bad, it's not as bad as you think. Sometimes the financial demands are overwhelming, but you have to just keep working hard and prioritize your financial life and things usually work out.

NEXT: Brenda Wynne - No financial cushion

Last updated August 28 2008: 4:39 PM ET
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