A while ago I wrote about being freaked out about the economy. That was back in September, before the actual collapse of the stock market, official pronouncement of the recession, and then a larger, global recession, mass layoffs, and billions of dollars in government bailouts. It was also before our family was directly hit from every direction, including my husband being laid off and having to look for a job in one of the worst job markets in history or the start-up where I have a daily gig facing a longer road to raising funding (like all other start-ups) than I anticipated. (By the way, if you click that link today you’ll get to see me eating Matzo ball soup on camera, an added bonus:)
In other words, it was before the sh*t really hit the fan, to use my very sophisticated analysis of the economy and our family’s financial turmoil situation.
I’m not very good at compartmentalizing things so it’s safe to say that I have this constant underlying sense of anxiety that follows me wherever I go during my day. I hate it, I wish I could meditate/yoga/breathe/walk it off, but all evidence points to the contrary. But the one thing that it hasn’t made me or our family do is to cut out all possible discretionary spending. We’ve never been big spenders anyway, not even when I had one of those fat paycheck jobs and we had no child or mortgage. And while we have definitely cut down on fun spending like vacations and weekend getaways (the most painful thing to give up, it turns out), eating out or going out, we still allow ourselves some affordable luxuries.
This morning, for example, my husband and I went to Whole Foods, got $20 worth of yummy breakfast delicacies, and had a breakfast date at home. Last weekend we bought a sweater for him and a funky Tshirt for me on a huge sale at a store where usually stuff is overpriced. I thought about, but decided to not give up the one expensive creme I use in favor of a cheaper version at the drug store. And every Friday, my daughter, my husband and I have dessert and tea/milk/coffee at one of our favorite little bakeries.
Times are tough, we’re stressed about money, and yet, we haven’t gone barebones on our spending to the degree I think we could. I have days when I think we’re stupid; there are days when I think that life is short, we’re young, and our little affordable luxuries won’t make a fundamental difference in our longer-term financial situation. I also remind myself that we’re lucky because plenty of families literally can’t afford any luxuries, small or larger.
In a way, I think this is part of our survival mechanism kicking in: These little affordable luxuries are a way to distract ourselves from the endless bad economic news or from dissecting our family’s finances. As long as I feel like we’re not going overboard, I think this is a good way to fight recession blues, of which I have plenty.
What about you? Have you cut back on “fun” spending significantly? Do you still allow yourself and your family some affordable luxuries? What are things you haven’t given up?