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The Globe and Mail

How life has changed since the financial crisis

Alex Dagorio, left, looks at the job board during the National Job Fair and Training Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Manufacturing employment tumbled to another record low, while in the finance and real estate industry, three-month average job losses are the steepest on record.

Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail/matthew sherwood The Globe and Mail

It has been four years since the financial crisis began. In that time, the lives of thousands of Canadians have been touched by lost jobs, battered investments and increasing household debts.

The Globe and Mail asked readers how their lives have changed since the financial crisis began. We selected the following stories from the submissions we received.

Colin, 35, Winnipeg

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Since the global crisis began, I have been restructured out of work three times. I have gone through periods of financial change while at the same time my personal life has changed as well. In the same amount of time I met the woman of my dreams, gotten married and have had a child. We have struggled through the uncertainty together. I can't say these last four years have been easy, but I can say they are not four years of my life I would trade for anything.

John, 57, Toronto

I went from a salary of just under six figures to minimum wage. What pension may be coming from my former employer won't happen for another two years based on their policy. CPP is farther off. Dreams of Loto 649 dance in my head, but not only can't I waste money on tickets I'm not one in a million, I'm one of hundreds of thousands in a similar situation.

Lucy, 36, Edmonton

I finished grad school in Nova Scotia at the same time as the recession hit in 2008. With no job prospects there, I moved to Ontario for greener pastures. It was nothing short of a disaster. ... One day while surfing the net for a job, I accidentally ended up on a job website for Alberta. I applied for a position that I was qualified for, interviewed for it two weeks later, got the offer two weeks after that and was on a plane to Edmonton - a city I had never been to nor dreamed of living in. I moved there with my clothing and that was it. A year and a half later and I am firmly on my feet. FINALLY.

Glenn, 36, Toronto

In the fall of 2008, I lost my job on Bay Street. Within a year, I found employment, but at 30-50 per cent of the previous compensation and that significant reduction continues through today. However, we always lived well below our means. Prior to 2008, despite a Bay Street income, we drove 10-year-old cars and lived in a small bungalow with no mortgage. This prudent fiscal management has allowed us to move into a new home two years ago.

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Anne, 52, Vancouver

In the past four years, the value of our houses - primary residence and rental - have dropped by over $500,000, my husband was laid off by IBM after 13 years, my freelance work has shrunk to about half of what it used to be, our RRSPs are worth 15% less than when we invested them.

Angie, 45, Lindsay, Ont.

As a part-time nurse, my hours keep getting cut back. We reworked our mortgage to save $500 a month, $250 a month on park fees by selling our trailer, and I have cut our grocery bill to $75 a week (for a family of four) by shopping sales and using coupons. That is less than half of what I spent on groceries before.

Eric, 28, Vancouver

I'm 28 years old, no job, in harsh debt. I want to start a family but can't. I have no money. Life has been on hold for four years.

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Adrian, 26, Toronto

From having to live back at my parents place, to starting my own company because no one would hire me, to working for an employer outside the city, to having a basement apartment. It's getting better, I suppose!

Jean, 29, Vancouver

I've gone from student, to unemployed, to working, to student again within the last four years, so have experienced the recession from different perspectives. ... Trying to make a student budget stretch, accounting for a future emergency fund, and starting to think about paying off debt is where I'm at now. If you had asked me this four years ago, I doubt I would have placed such an emphasis on having a buffer for the future. A couple of months of job searching, while watching my bank account dwindle, will do that.

Evelyn, 55, Surrey

In 2009, when I lost my job, I had no debt other than my mortgage. Now I have debt; I owe family, friends and - most scary of all - the bank. I had to draw on my RRSPs to live.

Susan, 54, Tecumseh, Ont.

I used to work six or seven days a week plus extended shifts. Life was nuts. Now I have the time to walk my dog through a nearby conservation area twice a day. I've met most of my neighbours and they're nice. School is interesting. There a calmness to my life now. I miss my former co-workers.

Corey, 25, Montreal

I thank the recession because it gave me a ton of confidence in my ability to lead my life, and live on very little. My girlfriend and I are planning our next steps to save a house, and if we're lucky, the housing crash will come when we have enough money.

Karen, 41, Kenora

It made my husband and I more aware of our money. We didn't want to fall into the same "debt crisis" the economy was in. We really spent a lot of time figuring out our finances, what was coming in, what was going out and where the shortfalls were. I signed up for courses at the Women's Financial Learning Centre and got my act together!

Please add your own story in the comments section of this article.

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