Getting through hard times

My father is in his 70s, and moved to our town about 15 years ago, having retired at the age of 45. He had some investments and has been very frugal for years, making it possible for him to live on a very modest income. Of course, he lived through the Great Depression– he knows what tough times are.

When he stopped by last Sunday for the weekly pinochle battle, he asked whether I thought we’d be all right, financially. He didn’t just mean did we need a $200 loan, or whether we’d be able to see my daughter through her last two months of culinary school. He meant, would we survive? The fact he asked made me start to worry.

There’s no question that he and I disagree about spending habits. He hasn’t bought a new shirt in probably 20 years. He buys the bare minimum of groceries; I supplement him with fresh fruit, nice cheeses and meats, upper shelf tea, things he’d never buy for himself but I think he deserves. He decries spending money on the children for toys and things he doesn’t think they need, but they’re my children, so I’ll do what I want. (You don’t even want to know what he said about the Disney vacation. But in my opinion, when I looked at how fast the bad economy was spending my IRA, I figured if I was going to lose it all, I’d rather have it be on something of MY choosing.)

But his question wasn’t about my spending, but about how we would live. The Cabana Boy is in the process of changing jobs, but he has the new one for sure. Not likely they’d hire someone just to lay him off, particularly if he’s the only one in a department they intend to grow. As  someone who’s self-employed, I don’t have a regular paycheck to count on, but now that we’ve moved the office into the house, my expenses are really minimal, and we can create a cushion to carry us through.

So yeah, I think we’ll be okay. It may be awhile till our next big vacation. We won’t buy a new car this year. We’ve decided to work on paying down our credit and trying to work as debt-free as possible by year’s end.  We intend to expand our garden and grow more of our own food this year, saving money as well as giving us a health boost. We’ll do what thousands of other families are doing across the country, and we hope we’ll all get through it.

But headlines all over the news and the ‘Net point out that we haven’t hit bottom yet. We’ve just gotten bad enough that some of the big guys have taken a serious hit that, frankly, they had coming. This 10-minute video puts the whole mess in an extremely digestible form and shows why the fallout will come for many months to follow.

Watching it will remind you once again that for years all the Big Boys have been sticking together and making each other rich; now it’s time for all us little guys and gals to make sure we stick together and survive. Whether it’s pulling together as a Cul-de-Sac Commune, making your neighborhood a caring place, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, or making sure your local food bank has enough to give away (and helping box those donations up!), everyone can pitch in. Freecycle. Even CNN says it’s chic to be cheap, so check out the local Salvation Army store. We will be.


9 thoughts on “Getting through hard times

  1. I get so angry when I see the billions being dumped into a banking system, that was leaveraged by CEOs that could not see the folly of their assumptions. They had to know that sooner or later this was going to come crashing down.

    Those that take the TARP money will soon wake to find that they are sleeping with a scorpion, and to keep it happy is going to be a difficult task. A.J.

  2. while the economy is really in the crapper, we will get to the other side of it. but this is the wake up call for all of us who’ve gotten too materialistic (me, for sure) and forgotten how to pinch a penny. in the end? i wonder if a few really challenging, scary years won’t draw out that thing that made our parents tough, and part of the greatest generation!

  3. All is so true. In times like these, we really need to pull together. We can’t lose hope and faith. You DID deserve that vacation and those are memories that you (and the children), will take with you forever. Keep fighting for what you stand for , God knows that you do AND we do too! :o)

  4. I loved this blog and it reminds me that getting back to the basics is more important than ever.

    In my blogs I write a lot about greening and gardening and tending to the community. Perhaps the way we will all get through this is if we dedicate ourselves to the mindset of helping each other.

    If you need help – ask family, ask friends, as community. Let’s all work together to make a difference for each other.

    Shawna Coronado, a.k.a. Yo’ Sista

  5. Yes, I too have noticed the new trend that cheap or frugal is in… (thanks to CNN and Opera for that matter) and I love it. Gone are the days that we try to one up each other and brag about our Volvos–do I sound hostile?? I just want to find more rewarding ways to talk with people and share ideas and thoughts rather than what we “have ” and “want…” And I hope people come together more and become more accepting from this experience… because as you said, the worst has yet to come… Says someone who is out of work (me).

  6. Pingback: Parents Helping Parents Carnival XII | Parenting Advice and Tips: Modern Parent

  7. The principle are so powerful that they can be anyone’s medium of exchange. Also Dr. Trevor my spouse and I maintain a joint bank account for our household and general expenses. We are both more aware of the money that come in and go out of our household like never before you sent your program. We are in agreement for all major expenditures, conduct financial meetings to discuss the status of our finances on a regular basis and we operate our household finances like a business.

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