Recession Mama

{April 13, 2009}   I want it, I need it, I really gotta have it!

At the end of every party, someone usually cries, fights or has a complete meltdown. It happens almost every time. My son’s 5th birthday was no different. There were a few tears here and there. A quick little argument between two girls about who would sit by the birthday boy. (he is adorable you know) And then there was the meltdown after the party was over. (nobody wants to leave a bouncy house)

I think the same could be said about the economy. Most Americans have enjoyed these prosperous years. There seemed to be plenty of jobs, real estate was solid and Wall Street was a good thing not a dirty word. But the party is over. And some folks are crying, fighting and having meltdowns.
People bought homes they couldn’t afford, racked up credit card debt and lived way beyond their means. Now they’re throwing a temper tantrum because they can’t have what they want.

Yes, we’re grownups but many of us still act like children. I can be one of them at times. I know I need to be reserved in this economy, but there’s a part of me that silently screams: “I want it, I need it, I really gotta have it.”

But wait a minute. Am I not the mother who tells her children to be happy with what they’ve got? Yes. That’s me.

In fact, that same phrase flew out of my mouth after my son opened nearly 20 birthday gifts from friends. He was thrilled with every rip and tug of the wrapping paper. He was enjoying himself so much I can honestly say he exclaimed “Look what they got me! I never knew I always wanted this!”

And bam! That phrase woke up the former broke girl in me. I stood there looking at all of the generous gifts, the piles of wrapping paper and started to worry that maybe my son would have a skewed sense of reality.
About that time he said.
“Is that it?” “Can I please open one more gift?”

“No!” I say. “That’s it” “Be happy with what you’ve got!”

Now most kids would throw a fit and stomp their feet at this point. But surprisingly he didn’t. He just said “Ok.” And then insisted that I get some double “A” batteries so he could fire up a robot.

He’s a good kid. A sweet boy. He just loves getting toys. Anything really. You could wrap up a pine cone as a gift and he would still be excited.

Grownups love the thrill of getting something new too. It’s just human nature. We NEED the basics. But we WANT a lot of things. And our “toys” just happen to be a little more expensive.

I didn’t have much when I was broke. But at least it was mine. And I had a few friends and family that would’ve crawled through glass just to help me. And that was really all I needed.

So my former broke girl has a challenge for you. Just look around. Just stand in a room, take a moment and look around. Look at your family and friends. Catalog all of the important things in your life.

Maybe times are tuff right now and you’re really not sure how this party is going to end. You may not have a job, a home or savings. But STOP looking at all of the things you don’t have… And just be happy with what you’ve got.

There’s plenty of “good stuff” if you look hard enough.



Carla says:

You hit the nail on the head. Wants vs. Needs. There’s always a clash of that in my house as well. I/we have our needs but I/we have our wants and sometimes it is hard to say “no” to ourselves. I’ve drifted back to my old ways a few times since my layoff…spending too much money or using shopping as “retail therapy”.

I love your challenge, Heather. It’s so true. We need the basics. And that’s the easy part. The hard part is saying goodbye to that part of ourselves that loved “having it all”.

recessionmama says:

It is hard to say goodbye to the little kid in ourselves who wants everything, but doesn’t need anything. When I was broke, I avoided shopping because if I couldn’t see it, I didn’t want it. Out of sight, out of mind. I need to go back to that and limit my “looking.” I’m kind of an all or nothing girl. I can’t eat just one cookie or chip. I want a bunch. Same goes with shopping. I can’t buy just one piece of furniture, I want to redecorate the whole room. Get some will power chick, you’re saying to yourself. I know, I know. That’s why I’m not even looking. Today, I’m going to be grateful for what I’ve got. Just be glad that I have clothes to wash and put up and that I have two beautiful kids to feed, get dressed and take to school. And an awesome husband who asked me if I slept well last night. Sometimes there’s a lot of beauty in the everyday chores. Be thankful no matter how they come to you. They’re a blessing. -Heather

Katy says:

Great post, Heather! It is so important to really think of needs vs. wants before you buy. I think that’s why I’m having a hard time deciding whether to have a dream wedding. I want the dream wedding; I definitely don’t need it. I tell myself it’s once in a lifetime, but yet it’s hard to justify that I’ll be spending a lot of money on one day.

recessionmama says:

You can still have a dream wedding. It can be classy and small and absolutely perfect. It’s a celebration of your union. 50 years from now you won’t remember what the cake looked like or what your had to eat ( you won’t get to do that BTW). You’ll just remember the walk down the aisle, and the way he looked at you when you reached him. That’s the dream. But seriously, you’ve got to has a kick a&* party.

Katy says:

I hear that you don’t get to eat. We want to make sure we eat. We’re all about eating. LOL

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