Recession Mama

By Katy


Six months ago, this week, Heather, Carla and I launched this site.  We had no idea what it would become.  We just wanted a place where we could talk about our experiences in this unusual economy.  We each had very different economic realities, as I am sure our readers do also.  In fact, I think each of us draw in the kinds of readers who are most like us…and sometimes, we also get readers who can’t understand what we’re going through and let us know it!  Money is a hard subject to talk about.  It’s also a hard subject to write about.  Money is so personal.  It’s definitely been hard for us, and we’re the Recession Mamas!  I’ve gotten criticized for how much I’m planning to spend on my wedding, and I haven’t even spent the money.  I was just writing about what various locations might cost us.  But that’s why it’s important to keep sharing each other’s stories.

I actually embrace the criticisms.  I address them, of course, in future posts.  But I love hearing the good and the bad.  This is what this site is for!  We should help each other through a period of time in our lives and in our country’s history that most of us have never lived through before.  We don’t always have to write about our money issues.  I think it makes for a better site if we actually don’t.  I think we are just here to document what this strange, new economic world is like…for us and for our guest writers.

I love when readers write to me and tell me how much they relate to what we’re writing about.  I love when I hear that someone has even used a tip or two from this site.  But what I love most is when someone says simply, thanks, for putting it out there!  We are going to try and keep putting it out there for all of you…and for ourselves.  Thank you so much for reading these last six months!  I hope you’ll continue to read and contribute.  Also stay tuned!  We’ll be rolling out a new look soon!!!


{October 2, 2009}   This Baby Is Growing Fast

—by Carla


Get ready to break out the Cristal, we here at RM will proudly be celebrating our 6 month anniversary next week. Nevermind, forget the Cristal…it’s too damn expensive. Break out the store-brand equivalent or just hoist your Diet Coke can high into the air!

We’ve been sharing stories and helpful (hopefully) hints along the way, as we attempted to start a national conversation about money. Going back to our “roots”, (if something 6 months old can actually have roots), we said that we were “Three friends from three different economic realities helping each other get through this recession, mama!”



You might  wonder why in the world anyone would want to air this sort of dirty laundry…especially when it comes to money…but our thinking was, “why NOT?”.

Of course, our stories are in no way as shocking and horrifying as other tell-alls…not the least of which was the bombshell this week by Mackenzie Phillips, but I think our goals may actually be quite similar. She has said she came forward because she wanted to make sure that other victims like her would speak out and get help.

Very similar goal for me, personally. I felt passionately (and still do) that too many of us in this country care far too much about what other people think about our financial status and would rather live financial lies than own up to the fact that they cannot maintain the lifestyle they are living. I, for one, had no problem admitting that I/we spent money hand over fist, without ever thinking about how much was being put away for a rainy day or an emergency. Our situation was a bit different than the many horror stories we’ve heard over the past several months about people owing hundreds of thousands of dollars on various credit cards. We had (and still have) little credit card debt (but still enough for me to consider it a monkey on my back), instead paying most everything in cash. Earn it, spend it. Earn it, spend it. After all, I was making almost six figures and had a contract with my (now former) employer. I was recession-proof, right? Wrong. You CAN actually be laid off two weeks before Christmas, five weeks after giving birth, while still on maternity leave, and while you have another year left on your contract. Yup…they can do that. And they did.

Flash forward and here I am, thirty-something-years-old, learning to cook…and honey I mean LEARNING. “How long do I cook this chicken breast again? Why is there smoke in the kitchen again?”…and so on. But beyond everything else, I have learned (and continue to learn) an entirely different way of life, one that has refocused me. 

I love hearing stories from Katy and Heather because we all are at very different places, economically speaking, and we each represent a good chunk of America. Plus they crack me up! The three of us tell it like it is, even to each other.

So, a great big “Thank You” to everyone who has checked us out over the last six months. More than 36,000 page views and counting…whew! Keep coming back for more. Huge changes next week.

Happy (almost) SIX months, Recession Mamas!

{September 8, 2009}   Marriage and Massages

By Heather


My husband and I were recently talking about our 10 year wedding anniversary which is coming up this Friday, September 11th. I asked him to name his favorite moment of the wedding. He quickly answered “The shot table and the reception…”

(insert eyebrow lift from me)

“And of course saying I do,” he added.  

(insert smile from me)

We’ve been together for 13 years. Most of the time it feels like we just met… other times it feels like a hundred years. Occasionally, we want to whack each other on the head with a frying pan. Thankfully, we’ve never actually done this.

We had a “frying pan” moment over the weekend thanks to a massage. It was just 50 minutes, but it felt like an excruciating 24 hours and a HUGE waste of our money. Money that I want to demand back, but I’m afraid it might get someone fired. So I probably won’t.

We were out-of-town and decided to treat ourselves with massages. The plan was simple.  We would take turns at the spa while the other one watched the kids. I would go to the first appointment which was at 8 am. He would go at 9. They were 50 minutes each. I asked to leave a few minutes early, so he could make it to his treatment on time.

Best laid plans. Right?


I rolled out of bed and got to my appointment 15 to 20 minutes before my session. I told the therapist I needed to leave early. He said “fine.” Then he kept talking.

I’d like to point out that I LOVE massages. I’ll let almost anyone give me a massage as long as they knead me like a loaf of honey wheat bread. Nothing can deter me from getting a massage. (not even a life threatening MRSA staph infection which I got from a spa in Vegas)

I’ve paid a lot of money over the years for spa treatments and I’ve had my fair share of “AWESOME” and “FRIGHTENING.” But this is the first  a massage has caused me to point my finger and yell at my husband in a hotel hallway. (Not my finest moment)

Consider some of my more disturbing massage moments. There was the massage student who rubbed my abs and asked me to call him sometime. Ewww. The nice Italian woman who rubbed my boobs with olive oil. Ickkk. A man in Greece who grabbed my ankles, pulled them over my head to my ears while straddling me. Wowza! Thank goodness I was wearing underwear. Or how about the therapist who ran out of the room only to return and announce that she had diarrhea. Ughh. None of this has EVER made me scream at one of the people I love most on earth.

I can handle too much oil, horrible music, chanting and a little weirdness. But I CANNOT handle a chatty Kathy who talks and talks and talks when I’m trying to relax.

This was unfortunately the case. The therapist told me about his daughter’s surgery, his life as a single parent, the three months he spent trying to pass a kidney stone and Amber, the therapist, who had a crush on the hotel’s personal trainer. Then he delved into my parent’s divorce, my arthritis, how often I pick up my kids, etc. He talked so much he forgot to massage half of my body. He got my back and left arm. The rest was left high and dry. Then the wind-bag ran past our time. That made my husband late for his massage.

He was mad, I yelled it wasn’t my fault in a crazy person way. Then we spent the three hour drive home in silence. (or as much as you can with two kids) Relaxation ruined.

Later when we got home he walked by, gave me a little pat and said I love you. The frying pan moment was over. 10 years of wedded bliss restored!

 This takes me back to our conversation about our wedding day. I told him that although I did enjoy the “shot bar” at the reception my favorite moment was feeling so calm and certain about marrying him.

“I never had a doubt.”

Then without blinking he actually asked if I would book massages when we celebrate our anniversary later this week.


Now that’s love.



It looks and smells just like any other Wednesday really, but for the three of us here at RecessionMama, it’s a little bit more than that. It’s our one month anniversary. Katy, Heather and I kicked this off one month ago and we’ve been amazed at how many people have stopped by to check us out. Little old us. So thank you for reading along and laughing a little at us with us. 

Our hope was (and is) to kick-start a national conversation about money. It’s that simple…but at the same time, it’s become quite complicated. In writing about my personal finance disasters (and hopefully some triumphs…), I can’t help but think, “OK Carla, is this something you really want to share with the entire world? Because once it’s out there…it’s out there“. And most of the time, the answer is “yes”.

It is tricky when it comes to writing about money and family members or others close to you because you don’t want to isolate yourself or offend anyone. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if a lot of folks are all that comfortable about this sort of conversation. It is an uncomfortable reality for some people to face their spending habits and look inward to try to figure themselves out. I know because I’m living it first-hand. So I’m totally down for the reality check that I now call my life. 

And so on this one month anniversary, since I’m in a festive mood, I’m getting some things out in the open and crossing a little BS off the list. Some of these I’ve gotten from friends or loved ones, others are mine. I have a very low tolerance for BS lately. Maybe it’s this crazy Texas weather. Maybe it’s all the talk of swine flu. Follow along with me…maybe you agree, maybe you don’t: 


* Threatening to go on strike when millions of hardworking Americans can’t find work.

* Still spending money even though you don’t actually HAVE the money.

* Not having learned ANYthing from this recession and continuing on your merry little way with zero savings for your future and a deep desire to “spend it if ya got it”.

* Customer service reps who, in this economy, have the nerve to be ANYthing other than cordial and appreciative of my business.

 …there are more. Maybe it’ll  become a regular feature.

Oh, our other hope in starting RecessionMama was to make some pretty killer money doing this. 

So let’s keep this little conversation rolling. After all, how far did NOT talking about money get us? Right. 


As for our big anniversary, we’re celebrating in true RM style. We’re not doin’ squat because we’d rather bank it than blow it, baby!

et cetera