I spend Saturday mornings on long runs, and during those two plus hours I spend a lot of that alone time thinking about a variety of things. I let the thoughts wander in and out of my mind as I run, and when something comes up that really interests me I’ll mull over it for a while before something new floats in.
Today I made it a point to remember what I was thinking about and to come straight home and, after a good breakfast and shower, write my thoughts down in this post!
My mother was a single mother raising a daughter, and she worked three jobs at one point (school teacher, waitress and real estate agent) to support us. We had a house in West Virginia that cost $400 per month to rent; my mom made $350 per month at her teaching job.
Needless to say, we didn’t see a lot of extra funds coming in. My dad didn’t pay support, so it was all on my mother to put food on the table, gas in the car, clothes on my back and keep the roof over our heads. She worked very, very hard, and now that I am a mother I am just in awe of what it is she did for our family.
This morning I began to think about the three stages of my life: child, young adult, and married mother.
As a child, I wore hand me downs without a complaint, even if the jeans were a bit too short and the shirts were missing a button. My cousins and my friends would bring us bags of clothes that would keep me warm all winter long. My mom cut my hair; so what if the bangs were a little uneven, or the Dorothy Hamill cut that she insist I wear a bit crooked around the ears? It didn’t matter. I didn’t care.
As a child, we ate what we could afford. One meal, she said, she made kidney pie because she heard it was inexpensive. She had to soak the tough meat for quite some time and she said it was horrific but we ate it. I can’t tell you the number of meals we had that consisted of pasta and beans with no meat. We always had an assortment of fresh veggies and fruit, and we always ate healthy meals. Even as a child I wasn’t hung up on sweets or candy or chips. Perhaps this is because we couldn’t afford to keep them in the house.
Then I became a young adult, and I transitioned from high school to college to working girl. Suddenly my clothes mattered, and I had to skip the hand me downs, the clothes friends let me have, the thrift stores, and purchase everything at a department store. I didn’t want a car that had a hole in the floor, as we had when I was young, so I had to purchase something sporty that ate up more gas. I didn’t care about the cost; I wanted to look a certain way. Meals consisted of veggies and meats. I no longer bought generic anything, because what if someone came to visit and noticed the toilet paper was not name brand? I got married. We continued this lifestyle for a while, since it was just the two of us making two pretty good incomes.
And then it became the 2000s and we had kids. Things are reverting back to the way they were when I was younger. I am completing that circle. My kids wear their friend’s clothes. I have shoes and shirts in my closet that another friend was giving away. While I don’t cut my own hair, because I don’t do a good enough job (just ask my husband, who insisted I cut his-only once!), I do cut my kids’ hair. We don’t have meat at every meal. This was a tough one, as my husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but once we noticed our rising grocery bill he realized that a few nights of no cow was just fine. We grow veggies in our garden. We check books out of the library instead of buying them new.
The point of this post? I was wondering as I considered these different cycles in my life whether they were related to my age at the time of the cycle or whether they were related to the economy and the way of life of the world at the moment in which that cycle occurred.
If times had been tough when I was a young adult, would I have forgone that sporty car and bought something economical? Would I have skipped the $100 hair cuts and highlights and done it myself?
Do most people, once they have children, begin to cut back and think of better ways to recycle and reuse because, let’s face it, kids are expensive? Would these cut backs that we have recently taken in our own family, such as purchasing some clothes at consignment shops or using hand me downs, have happened even if our economy had not tanked at this time?
If things were still going along like they were about six years ago, when everyone we knew drove the largest and most expensive SUVs and carried brand name handbags, would we still share clothes with one another? Would we have planted a garden? Would we still be buying the most expensive toilet paper because we thought that it was the softest against our skin?
Or, would we realize that we need to cut back because even though we make enough to get by on, we don’t need to overspend to have a good life?
I don’t know. What are your thoughts? Do you feel that as people, regardless of the economy, we go through cycles in life where money matters and where we realize it is important to save?
Or do you feel that these cycles really depend upon how the economy is doing at the time?
Have you found yourself spending less or more in these times? And why do you think you have the spending habits that you have?
Now I must go. We are off to the library for a free morning of story time and checking out books. You see, we don’t have to spend alot to have a good time and we still find things to do!