Monday, December 05, 2011

Burdened or Challenged?

I must confess that I'm absolutely thriving on trying to save us money during this season of unemployment. It's like I was made for this.

I mean, during our early years of marriage I also thrived on pinching pennies. Oh the creativity of it all! The couponing, the sewing of clothes, the crocheting of blankets and the studying of library books dealing with how to make the most of what little you have. I remember those days now with many smiles.

But when we moved to Nevada? Suddenly we had more money than we needed and you know? I felt uncomfortable. I won't try to psychoanalyze myself all these years later, but I recall that as being the saddest time of my life, a couple years of terrible depression. Which, ok, didn't solely stem from the abundance of money, but from other things.

And yet during those years when we had more than enough money, I did more home sewing than ever and used more coupons and money-saving hints than ever, too. I told dear friends that I didn't want the extra money--I missed the feeling of being creatively challenged, instead.

Yeah, I'm one weird puppy. I know.

Then we moved to New York and Tom took a pay-cut to do so. Yay! So we returned to actually needing my money-saving skills and I was happy again (and ok, part of that happiness stemmed from having escaped the dreadful (to me) Nevada desert. I can't deny that.). But still, I felt back in my element, back to the real me, back to doing what I was called to do--being a wife and mom who enjoyed the challenge and creativity of staying within a tight budget. And probably just feeling vital and needed again was part of it, as well.

Years later, times got easier, we had enough money for whatever we needed and I relaxed my penny-pinching reins again, though never 100%. Then August of 2010 rolled around, Tom lost his job and ok, the first two days afterward I panicked! Oh, the shock of it all.

But after that? With a steely new determination I returned to my rusty ol' penny-pinching, money-saving ways. The couponing, buying clothes at thrift shops and trying never to pay full price for anything. The putting on an extra sweater instead of turning up the heat, the making of my own household cleaners and hanging laundry on clothes racks/lines to dry. The reusing grocery bags, cardboard from cereal boxes, rubber bands from produce and cotton from vitamin bottles. The conscientious buying of necessities rather than an unconscious grabbing of pretty trinkets off shelves or yard sale tables.

And it all just feels so darn right. Like slipping into a custom-made pretty dress after you've lost ten pounds.

It all feels like a challenge, but not a burden. And may my attitude never change about this whole thing--for if it does--the fun will all blow away.


Pretty much? Our attitude changes everything. More than what happens to us, it's how we view our circumstances that determines our feelings about them... and Life.



Anonymous said...

Thrifty ways of living need to become the norm again, for most. If not yet, no doubt it will come soon. And why not live as frugal as we can manage. It makes sense so long as we can stay well in how we do things. Our thermostat is lower this winter too...tho if we begin to get ill, we will raise it some. Putting on more clothes makes sense! What we save can not only help us, it can allow us some to share with others too. And it is fun to make something useful from what others deem useless!!

I share your feelings for the desert too! Green is a good color!!
Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Oh this post sounds so familiar. I could have written it 100%. We have had our ups and downs with income. Never much up but more at sometimes. I always felt recharged when I had to pinch more. Not pinch on enjoying life or loving life or doing what we could to help others etc. Just watching that what money come in was used to its best advantage. I feel so blessed my husband is good with this too and has never been an over spender. Oh he likes his tek toys but only ones he Really uses. I agree with you that there is always $ it seems for helping others and giving tips and all the other things that are right [and in so doing actually make even you feel good too]. I am in a strange way more relaxed when I am in my element of saving. It is totally a competition with myself to do the best I can. Having always been a homemaker this is my job and one I can identify with. finding fun new recipes and ideas for serving the things we grow in our garden or I can or find cheap etc is fun! I get a real kick out of it. Being content is a whole lot to do with it. My fun thing is buying used books or finding used pretty fabrics to use in our home etc. I love it all. When the time comes to pass things along we have families we know who run shops that sell used household things to support their families and they welcome our things we give to them free. It is a win win situation. We buy things from them too. I enjoy what I do and do it with joy. Sarah