Appreciate the simple things. It is possible that we needed a wake up call—something to get our attention and snap us out of it. Maybe this newfound freedom from spending more, more, more is an opportunity to strengthen relationships both within our families and with friends. Now we think twice about going out to dinner, or taking vacations. I see this as an opportunity. Besides, having healthy dinners at home is not so bad. Encourage the family to make dinner together once a week. Invite friends over for dinner instead of going out. It is often more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone (especially when children are involved). Visit relatives.
Everybody has bad days. Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life, says, “it’s almost as if we’ve been told life is supposed to be perfect all the time, and something is wrong with us if it isn’t. That’s not true!” She uses an example of getting a nail in your tire. Just being a nice, careful driver doesn’t prevent you from running over a nail; it just happened. Losing a job doesn’t mean that you deserved it or that you are a bad person. Everyone has bad days—what separates us is how we chose to deal with them. Victoria Moran believes that living a charmed life is your birthright and that we should stick close to what makes us come alive. What makes you come alive?
What would our grandparents do? Children of the Great Depression knew hard times. The poverty, food rations, illnesses didn’t stop them from living life to its fullest. They continued to love their friends and families, they danced, sang and probably had stronger character than many of us today. Instead of waiting for a handout, they continued to push through the tough times always hoping, wishing, dreaming of something better. Our grandparents knew how to grow food, build and repair things, how to be self-sufficient. Maybe this is a good time for us to learn some of these things. If you have recently lost a job and have extra time, maybe now is your opportunity to learn something new. Where a door closes, a window opens.
Discover the Outdoors. About a year and a half ago, in an attempt to pair down, I canceled my gym membership. For years, I went to the gym most days of the week without fail. This was something I really enjoyed not only for the exercise, but also to see the people. Making the decision to drop the membership wasn’t a difficult one because I knew it would help financially. Now my workouts consist mostly of walking, running, just doing something outside. I love it! The seasons are beautiful, the outside air is much better than air inside a building, and I can go outside whenever I want to. My only expense is a new pair of shoes once in a while. Why didn’t I do this years ago?
Be thankful. Even though your family has scaled back the extra activities or adopted a more economical eating plan, you can still be thankful for what you have. Being thankful is empowering—we go from wanting or lacking to having and being grateful.
Work harder. I often wonder what happens when we give our children everything they want. Do they ever really learn the value of hard work? Paula Spencer, writer for Woman’s Day, writes that, “He who hasn’t seen Europe already by age sixteen may study international relations in order to get there one day. She who dreams of a pony may find her way to own a horse farm someday.” She goes on to say, “Parenting is a dance between showing kids enough possibilities and not handing over so much that you snuff out motivation, curiosity, and drive.” Hmmm.
In conclusion, the economic changes have had an impact on our family; a good one. My husband (much like his grandparents) is more determined than ever to succeed. Our children are learning to appreciate the value of money and as a result take better care of what they have. We are thankful every day for the roof over our heads, our beds, and food on the table. When given the choice, look for the silver lining.