I turned 40 today. Yep - the "BIG 4-0." It really doesn't bother me. I subscribe to the theory that 40 is the new 30. My boyfriend took me shopping for new clothes for my birthday. As we walked into Macy's I was struck by a "deja vu" moment. I can remember standing in that EXACT spot, staring at the EXACT clothes, EXACTLY 20 years ago. Of course, back then it was Famous Barr, now it's Macy's. I had a flashback to my senior picture where I was wearing stirrup pants and a large sweater that swallowed me. Staring at the clothes racks now....same thing. Only now we call them leggings, but the same oversized sweaters are still there.
Something else struck me. EXACTLY 20 years ago, we were going through the S&L crisis. In 1989, I didn't pay much attention to the S&L crisis. I was a 20 year old who thought she knew it all. So, after shopping, I came home and looked up the S&L Crisis on Wikipedia. Some of the similarities I saw were frighteningly eerie. Here are some excerpts:
- In an effort to take advantage of the real estate boom (outstanding US mortgage loans: 1976 $700 billion; 1980 $1.5 trillion) and high interest rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s, many S&Ls lent far more money than was prudent, and too-risky ventures which many S&Ls were not qualified to assess. L. William Seidman, former chairman of both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Resolution Trust Corporation, stated, "The banking problems of the '80s and '90s came primarily, but not exclusively, from unsound real estate lending."
- The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the US government—that is, the US taxpayer, either directly or through charges on their savings and loan accounts—which contributed to the large budget deficits of the early 1990s.
- The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990–1991 economic recession. Between 1986 and 1991, the number of new homes constructed per year dropped from 1.8 million to 1 million, which was at the time the lowest rate since World War II. 
- While not part of the savings and loan crisis, many other banks failed. Between 1980 and 1994 more than 1,600 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) were closed or received FDIC financial assistance.
- From 1986 to 1995, the number of US federally insured savings and loans in the United States declined from 3,234 to 1,645. This was primarily, but not exclusively, due to unsound real estate lending.
- The US government ultimately appropriated 105 billion dollars to resolve the crisis. After banks repaid loans through various procedures, there was a net loss to taxpayers of approximately $124 billion dollars by the end of 1999.
- Some commentators believe that a taxpayer-funded government bailout related to mortgages during the savings and loan crisis may have created a moral hazard and acted as encouragement to lenders to make similar higher risk loans during the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.
So...here we are...20 years later. The details of how we got here may not be the same, but the economy is nevertheless. And I have to wonder: Didn't we learn anything? How did we end up back here again?
I don't want to think that I'm destined to keep repeating the same cycles in life. But I think I have managed to learn a few life lessons in the past 20 years:
- Hard work always pays off. Maybe not immediately, but eventually it will.
- What comes around....goes around.
- Sob stories are like belly buttons - everyone has one.
- True love begins with yourself.
- Unanswered prayers are usually the greatest blessings we receive.
- Everyone has dues to pay in life.
- Never judge anyone...most likely you will find yourself in their shoes somewhere down the road.
- When you see someone finally get what they having coming to them, it doesn't make you feel any better.
- People who brag about their money almost always don't have any.
- There is no glory in being a victim. Glory comes from picking yourself back up after you've been victimized.
- Just when you think it will never end....it does.
- When the dust clears, if you still have your loved ones...nothing else really matters.
- When I was 20....I didn't know squat.
- My parents actually did know what they were talking about. (I hope my mother isn't reading this).
Growing up, I always wondered where I'd be and what my life would be like when I was 40. Now I know....it's not a lot different than when I was 20. Only now, I'm qualified to say Been There....Done That.