Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sign of the Times

The Hoos and I have been quite fortunate in regards to the current economic situation. We both feel pretty secure in our jobs and we don't know anyone personally that has been severely impacted. Of course, anxiety is high among our friends and family, and everyone is watching (or trying to ignore) the diminishing size of their pensions and 401Ks, but for the most part we have (so far!) been insulated.

Besides the newspapers and the television news, the place I notice the effects of the "financial crisis" is on the roads. Three days a week I commute 25 miles from our home in Norwalk to Westchester County, NY. It used to take me about 35 minutes to get to work and about 45 minutes to get home. Recently my drive time has been reduced by at least 10 minutes in each direction.

I am not complaining. It was ridiculous to sit in traffic for over an hour on occasion and be nervous about being able to pick the girls up by 6 (when I leave work at 4:30!). But it does make me think. Where have all of those people gone? What are they doing? What would I be doing were the situation reversed?

A lot of my errands and daily activities revolve around spending money. I go to the grocery store, WalMart, Stew's; rainy days might be spent browsing the mall or IKEA. Even if we don't by a lot of stuff, the potential is still there. If money was tight, how would I pass my days?

I might:

  • Make more elaborate meals, researching ways to use ingredients I already have on hand but don't have any ideas on how to incorporate into a meal
  • Renew my efforts to make homemade bread
  • Hang out at the library
  • Read more
  • Spend more time on Facebook
  • Clean out the basement
  • FreeCycle more items from my home and browse FreeCycle for items we need/want

I wrote the list above and then I realized that if I lost my job and money was a serious consideration, my girls would not longer be going to day care. My list instead would look like this:

  • With even less time to prep eat lots of pasta-centric meals
  • Hang out at the library
  • Read more of the same children's books over and over
  • Constantly clean up one mess before moving on to create another
  • Arrange lots and lots of playdates
  • Drive to LI to visit my parents at least one week day each week
  • Discover every playground within driving distance of my home (once the weather improves)
  • Clean the house if and when the girls ever nap (no more cleaning lady!)
  • Figure out some way to take walks in the neighborhood with both girls

To be honest, I am trying to do a lot of the things on both lists anyway, as it is never a bad time to improve my spending habits and discover new ways to spend quality time with the kids. What are some positive changes you have made in your life to shore up your family's finances?

1 comment:

Billie said...

We had been pouring every cent into paying off one of the car payments. I figured this would take the pressure off of our income.

Sadly, I found out that I got laid off last night from my second job so I assume that we essentially back to where we were when I started the second job... spending what we earn - and I don't mean in a frivolous sense.