Sunday, May 9, 2010

Having less leaves room for getting more (of what really matters)

If you´ve been hit hard by the recession, I feel for you. I do, because I know what it´s like to lie in bed awake wondering how to pay the electricity bill, or how to cut back on groceries to be able to pump gas to drive the kids to school. Maybe you and I arrived at that place for different reasons, but the fact remains that it´s stressful. In the darkest hour I reminded myself that “this too shall pass, but not before I learn from it”. And learn I did.
The biggest lesson was that there is a huge difference between “want” and “need”.
Another lesson is that there is life without credit. Not only that, there is a simpler more down to earth lifestyle, rooted in reality. There is a greater appreciation for the things that matter.
Perhaps the most important lesson was this - even when there was little food in the fridge and no money for gas, there was no reason to stop having fun with my kids or taking care of myself. I just did things differently and they have stayed that way. It is, I admit, easier to do it by choice than out of need. That´s why I plan to keep it just as simple in the future.

- I found I had stuff at home that I could turn into cash on eBay. I sold all my gold jewelry and even though some if it was hard to part with because of the sentimental value, I realized memories live on in the heart.

- During the worst times, I found help from non-profit organizations, charities and other aids. A mother (and any hard-working citizen undergoing duress for that matter), should know when to set aside her pride.

- I don´t have cable. DVDs from the library work fine. My kids and I have a girl´s night watching a DVD on my laptop in bed once a week. It´s a special event! I know that if they had a tv in every room it just wouldn´t be that special.

- The library is my fave hangout. It´s free and quiet. As a free-lancer I work at the library a lot, and as a mom, I love to watch my kids read.

- Public parks, nature trails, the beach (I do have the good fortune to live close to the beach) are great places for picnics, exercise and fun.

- I love bookstores. You can read the latest magazines, research, read, chat with a friend, hang with your kids, or just think. And you don´t have to buy a thing.

- I´ve rediscovered home-cooking. I was never a fan of spending money on restaurants, but now I relish prepping food with friends or a loved one. Not only that, creativity can also be used to cook savory meals on a low budget. That`s the root of the best ethnic foods!

- Fewer clothes in my closet means less laundry to do and wearing most of what I own. Easier choices. It works for my kids too.

- Conversation is a big part of what I enjoy doing with my girls, friends and family.

- Running and walking are free, and a great form of exercise. A good pair of running shoes are the only must-have.

- With expenses pared down to the bare essentials, I became more relaxed, which enabled me to focus on getting more work in my field, so that I did not have the constant worry about where the money for the bills was coming from, which resulted in greater productivity.

- If I was able to make it during the worst financial times, I know I can certainly make it during the better times!

If you have any other suggestions about simplifying, living on a shoestring and enjoying life while riding out the recession, please tell!

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