Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stop and Think

Hey all! I've had a very busy week at work, and with Monday being a holiday, I've been trying to get an extra day of work done in no extra time. I've managed to do it, but I'm exhausted. Plus I finished driving school for a ticket I got two months ago, and I haven't even started on my classwork for school. Ai yi yi! I am really, REALLY looking forward to three days of not answering my phone. I'll still be doing some classwork, but other than that, my computer will be OFF.

My post today is again asking a question of my readers. I know many of us have been affected by the recent recession. I don't care who you want to blame it on...Bush, the banks, Rainbow Brite, enormous sea turtles, El Nino, it did suck. Recent news reports say that a recovery is right around the corner. So my question is, now that the light seems to be around the side of the mountain, what did you learn from it? Were you specifically hurt by the recession? Or did your finances thrive? Did you learn new things, like how to can, or start taking your bicycle? Are you dying to pull your credit cards out again, or did you cut them up and swore to be cash only from now on?

I admit, Mr. R and I have been very blessed in that our standard of living hardly moved. He worked fairly consistently throughout the recession, and in fact is so busy that he couldn't even come home for my birthday. And hospital stuff? Well, people get sick no matter how the economy fares, so I've been busy too. If anything, with so many prices dropping on items, we have been able to stock up on lots of stuff that we had wanted and couldn't afford in the past. We bought a new washer and driver, a new air conditioner for the entire house, two laptops, a bass guitar, a trumpet, drum kit stuff and everyone has decent clothes and shoes right now. I also got new tires and a tune up on my car, plus Mr. R got a tune up on his pickup truck, and is having a new stereo installed for Father's Day. He also bought a fuel regulator thingy for his semi truck to save fuel, and it has made a HUUUUUGE difference. Throughout all of this, we've been regularly tithing too.
I'm not saying any of this to brag, because let me tell you, we have NOTHING in savings.

If anyone has heard of Dave Ramsey, you'd know that his Baby Step 1 is to have $1000 in savings. That's an emergency cushion so you don't rely on credit cards when crap hits the fan. That will hopefully be our next step, is that cushion.

So to get back to my question? Now that we've lived through one of the worst recessions in history, did you learn anything special? Did you make changes to your lifestyle? Did you lose a job, or a home, or a vehicle?

I think what I learned is:

1) Put God first, even when it makes no sense. I've written that check on Sunday morning gritting my teeth, I admit it. I've thought, I could put that towards my credit card (my last one) or I need to buy groceries. But we've not starved, we've had gas in the cars, and I've not had any of my utilities shut off. He does provide.

2) Learn to use coupons! Good grief people. I'm not even that good at it yet, but I'm hooked. For the price of a $1.50 Sunday paper, I'm saving about $50 a week. That's an excellent return for your bucks. So don't say, "I can't afford the paper." You can't NOT afford the paper. Plus there are so many internet deals you can print. I don't even do those, but I may in the future. Go onto the websites for your local stores and find out their specials. I go to one particular store to buy meat only, and they give out a $10 of $50 coupon every time for the following week. Then I take that coupon and use it at another store that accepts competitor coupons, and bust it out when they're having Buy One Get One Free sales with coupons and peelies. I walked out of Winn Dixie two weeks ago and used $149 in coupons and store deals. That's a lot of groceries for free! Yes, I said $149!!!

3) Start a garden. Even if all you have is a little patio or a window. We have 1/4 acre, so that's quite a bit of land. Right now, all we're doing is tomatoes and herbs, because I have a terrible, terrible black thumb. The garden is Mr. R's domain, and since he's not's not looking great. But the herbs look wonderful! We are growing parsley, oregano, mint, thyme and rosemary. I made potatoes tonight and ran outside to clip some parsley to put in them. It's fun, and tastes so fresh!

4) Be content with what you have. I am a internet shopper. I love a deal, I love free shipping, I love clothes and shoes and buying stuff for my kids. I'm not saying I stopped...but I've slowed down a lot. I was on a dress buying kick for a while. Why? I only wear them on Sundays. How many do I really need? What makes more sense to me is to fix the skirts I've had in my repair basket for THREE YEARS and buy some more tank tops and simple knit tops, because that's what I wear when I work from home. I'm all about looking nice while I work (I've stopped working in my pjs, I had a terrible attitude when I did so) but dresses that need to be ironed and worn with foundation garments don't belong in my wardrobe during the week. Roscoe the dog does not give a hoot how cute I am.

5) Get rid of junk you don't need, don't use, doesn't have a function, or isn't beautiful. I donated my kids books. I saved one from each child that personified them personally, and ditched the rest. It was hard. I cried. But I had no room for them. I threw out old make up. I routinely go through the medicine cabinets and pantry to throw out expired items. I got rid of a couch that couldn't be repaired, and got a used one. That being said, take good care of what you do have. I'm sitting at my dining room table right now, that is absolutely covered with junk. I couldn't eat here right now without getting a garbage bag and clearing everything off, and then washing the table down. It would take me 30 minutes. I'm not being a good steward of this lovely furniture. I need to change that.


Jennifer M. said...

I've always been poor w/ no investments, so this recession didn't really change that or even make it worse. However, I do think my mindset has changed. I've become more aware of what I spend my money on. I've worked at cooking more from scratch, buying locally, and not doing as much impulse shopping. I read something somewhere awhile back that said that during these times the best thing you can do is invest in your skills, thereby making yourself a more valuable commodity when the economy goes back up again in the future. So I've worked on learning photography and also on how to start my own business (I'm starting a used-book selling business!!) I'm still poor, but I'm weathering the storm and learning to trust God one day at a time. The economy could definitely have been worse to me so I'm counting my blessings.

Sarah R said...

Oooh, interesting business concept. I'd love to learn more about it.

Jennifer M. said...

I haven't decided if I like the name yet, but here it is: The Coffee Cup. I found a blog of a guy that has been selling on Amazon for 2 years and is actually making a decent living at it! I love that it can be a quiet, small thing while I still work a "real" job, but has the potential to be gradually larger, should I put the effort into it. I dream of being able to quit my job and do something that I love full-time. Maybe this is it!

Sarah R said...

I'd go onto any site that had that name. I'm a coffee ADDICT. I'm brewing right now, waiting for my black magic to be ready.