The New York Times ran a great article on the front page of Sunday’s paper regarding Japan’s economic hard times of the ’90s and how this fear of recession has continued to affect the way that some families in the area spend and live.
It is something that I have thought about over the course of the past year.
Will what is happening now in our economy, in our families, to our wallets and our spirits, continue to effect us even when the tides turn and we begin to march uphill again?
When we no longer fear job cuts, and when spending is as it was back in the early part of the decade, will we recall what it is like now – our friends (or perhaps our families) losing their jobs, their homes, their cars, and their spirit – and live frugally?
Or will we forget and live without fear of losing our money? Spend too much, stop shopping sales, throw caution, and dollars, to the wind?
What do you think will happen in your family?
As someone who has never been a ‘big spender’ I can assure you that things around here will be tight. Yet this is not abnormal in my family. I have budgeted since we married, and particularly since we had children and I stopped working, reducing our two incomes to one.
I have always purchased items on sale. I’ve always used coupons. These things have not changed since the economy got hit.
I realize, though, that I am not spending as much as I even once did, and I certainly triple or quadruple guess a purchase before forking out the money, when at one point it was thought of about twice.
Is it something we need versus something we want? Is it something that will last for the long haul? Is it necessary to have the item or can we do without? These thoughts march through my head like ants on the way to a picnic prior to most purchases over $10 (and even some that are less, like a new makeup I’d like to try!).
I may hold up a shirt that’s on sale for $15, something cute that is actually needed in my wardrobe, and think, “I can use that fifteen dollars for something else like bread and milk and cheese.”
Once upon a time when things were better and I didn’t see so many people losing their jobs, I would have bought that shirt; now I hang on to the money, just in case.
I have also begun doing things that do not cost money versus things that do: the park is free, the library is free, hanging out at the beach, again, is free.
Some of the entertainment places we used to attend, including bouncy houses and video arcades, are not free. So they are now limited to ‘special occasions.’
I can see that what has happened recently will stick with me for years to come.
In the Post’s article, though the economy swung upward again in Japan, women still use old bath water for laundry loads, certain fashion item sales are down and males in their early 20s are less likely to want a car than they were nine years ago. The Japanese are still feeling the effects of what went on a decade ago, and they live accordingly – even though, for a while, things have been okay there.
(Of course now with our struggling economy Japan is again feeling a hit – but more on that in a later post, because, quite honestly, what they are experiencing could be something we face in the future).
For now, how do you feel? Do you believe our struggling economy, once recovered, will continue to haunt you? Will you live as frugally when your paycheck rebounds as you may be doing now, with the threat of job loss on the close horizon?