Recession Mama

{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!


–by Carla

Let’s talk about Recession Mama for a second. I just want to make sure we’re all on the same lovely, virtual page. The three of us (and we’re all pretty hot, by the way. Have you noticed that? I’m just sayin’…) call this website a place where we can “whine about our dwindling dime”. Those words are actually written down somewhere on this page thingy. Anyway, that’s what we do a few times a week…we dish, we gab, we blab, we get it off our (totally hot) chests and we move on. We never said we were here to live super frugal lives, where every penny is accounted for and no mistakes are ever made. Hello…have we met? Hi, I’m the one who was making really decent money and didn’t save a dime of it. I ain’t preachin’ any sort of financial rescue advice. I do, from time to time, have totally hilarious stories about what an idiot I am in the kitchen…so those are fun. Ok, now that we’re all on the same page…

I’ve fallen back on some of my old ways, y’all. I haven’t been cooking as much and we’ve been eating out and shopping more than we should. So to help me get back on the road to saving, I enlisted the help of the amazing women in my mom’s group and asked for their money saving tips. I’ve only been doing this “on a budget, stay-at-home mom” thing now for 6 months…but these women have been doing the Supermom thing a whole lot longer. 

Today, I’ll start with tips on entertainment.


Several are loyal to Netflix, others raved about Redbox and Blockbuster Online. Here’s what Rachel, our group organizer, wrote about BB: “We can rent 3 movies online at a time and also exchange them in store for movies so we don’t have to wait and we get free in-store rentals a month for only 29.99 a month.” (I can’t tell you when I last rented a movie, so I’m clueless on that front.) It basically came down to being able to rent the most movies with the fewest strings attached.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I have never ever used any of these companies. We’re so lame here at my house. We were so into working and working all the time that we rarely went to the movies and if we did rent something, neither one of us would be able to stay awake for the entire thing. Don’t we sound like really fun people? Our new, trimmed down lifestyle really has slowed things down for us, and it is such a positive change, I think. I can’t speak for the husband. His stories are his to tell. But I like things slow, especially with 2 little ones to raise. Maybe we’ll actually rent a movie one of these days and quite possibly be able to stay awake for the entire thing.

As for my bump in the road, thankfully all I have to do is remember what’s most important: those 2 tiny little blessings named Donald and Dean. (They’re extraordinarily handsome, by the way, in case you didn’t already know that). They’re still adjusting to our new, trimmed down lifestyle, too. Toddler Boy still says the old housekeeper’s name from time to time. Happened just this morning. The morning after the dream I had last night in which I was actually mopping…


Got the hint, God. I mopped today. I’m hot and sweaty but it felt awesome and now my floors are clean…ish.

{May 13, 2009}   What’s With The Name?

By Carla

Since I’m into confessing things lately, here’s another one to add to the list: I have a terrible memory. I don’t mean a bad memory…like forgetting what I had for dinner three nights ago, I mean terrible…like I met you 8 times already and I still can’t remember your name. THAT terrible. It’s not a focus thing, it’s not a selfish thing…believe me, I’ve looked for answers, but there’s no rhyme or reason for it. My little brain can only handle so much and remembering people’s names just isn’t tops on the list. I’m on the ball when it comes to everything else though, like how many servings of milk the toddler boy has already had today, where the husband’s wallet is, where EVERYthing is. Those kinds of things are carved into my mind’s eye. But your name…forget it. Oh, I already did. And that is how “Mama” came about.

I started becoming a heavy user of “Mama” back in college…you know, when you tend to meet lots of new people…therefore dramatically increasing the odds of forgetting even more names. My worst nightmare was always when these familiar faces would come around and say “Hey Carla, what’s up!?” …and I’d just suck it up, smile real big and say, “Hey YOU! How in the world are you?” Then the next tactic was to NOT introduce that person to the person I was with, hoping that the familiar face with the unknown name would then introduce him or herself to my friend…and we’d ALL know everyone’s name. The “Hey YOU!” then morphed into “Hey woman”, or “Hey there guy”. But I finally settled on “Mama” and ran with it. It turned into my “thing”. We all have “things”, right? Well this was my “thing”. It expanded and grew, much like my love of white gold over yellow gold, and turned into a way for me to greet even my closest girlfriends to this day. “Hey mama, what’s going on? We’re all going to get through this recession, mama, don’t worry”. And there you have it.

Like our intro says, “We are three sassy mamas from three very different economic realities helping each other get through this Recession, Mama!”

And that, my sassy little mamas (and dudes), is the story of our name…and NO, it doesn’t have a thing to do with whether or not someone has kids.

{May 11, 2009}   Recession I am

By: Heather

I have to be honest mamas and papas. I’m sick of this recession. I’m ready for it to be over. A distant memory. Until then, I thought I would try to “punch it in the face” with a little grade school humor.

“Are you nuts?” you say.

“Certifiably!” I confirm.

That’s what makes me a true Recession Mama. We try to laugh a little when life throws us some serious problems. For some reason, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss comes to mind. I”m not sure why. I can’t explain my nuttiness sometimes.

The Green Eggs and Ham plot, in a nutshell, is as follows: Sam-I-am is trying to get some guy (fluffy creature) to eat Green Eggs and Ham. He doesn’t want them, but he can’t get rid of this pesky Sam.

“Do you like Green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-am. “

The dude (creature) is REALLY annoyed. But Sam-I-am is trying his best to get him to eat Green Eggs and Ham ANYWHERE and with ANYTHING.

“Would you eat them in a box?

Would you eat them with a fox?”

That’s how I feel about the recession. We’re forced to digest this ugly little mess on a daily basis. So why not gobble it down with a side of chuckles.

Anyway, here is my “recession rendition” of the Dr. Seuss story.

Bon Appétit!



I am recession man.

Recession I am.

That Recession- I- am!

That Recession-I-am!

I do not like that recession-I-am.

Do you like debt and layoffs man?

I do not like them, Recession-I-am.

I do not like debt and layoffs man.

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there. I want good news from the Fed Chair.

I do not like debt and layoffs man. I do not like them, Recession-I-am.

Would you like to lose your house?

Lose your house with your spouse?

I do not want to lose my house, lose my house with my spouse.

I do not like the recession here or there. I do not like it anywhere.

I do not like debt and layoffs man. I do not like them Recession-I- am.

Would you like them in a theme?

A Madoff Ponzi scheme?

Not in a theme.

Not in a scheme

Not lose my house

Lose my house, with my spouse

I would not like them here or there

I want good news from the Fed Chair

I would not like debt and layoffs man

I do not like them, Recession-I-am.

By Katy

Almost every girl thinks their mama is the best, don’t they? Well, here at Recession Mama, we think our mothers are special, too. Carla and Heather are mamas, so I’m letting them take a little break today. Happy Mother’s Day to ya’ll! And I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned from my mama.

My mom is the best negotiator I know. She truly embodies the notion that yes, you too can negotiate anything. She’s also a great bargain hunter, when it comes to stuff she really wants. She’s not the coupon-clipping type, like my amazing friend Sarah. And you definitely won’t catch her making her own detergent, like Carla’s friend, Connie. She’s definitely a fashionista, so does that make her a recessionista in this economy? Perhaps. But before I put any labels on her, let me just tell you about her mad “priceline negotiator” skillz. Yes, I meant to spell it with a z. It’s that amazing.

My mom is one of those negotiators that can make you want to give her everything, and then throw in the kitchen sink! You also walk away LOVING her. After a day-long tough session of car buying, the sales guys will say to me… “Isn’t she adorable? Isn’t she cute?” CUTE?! You just practically gave this woman the car for FREE, and you still think she’s cute? Now, that’s talent. She’s also negotiated where no man or woman has, I believe, gone before…at high end stores on Rodeo Drive. And I’m NOT talking about buying $100K worth of stuff. If you’re spending that much cheddar, I do think Chanel, Louis, and Cavalli might be able to cut you a break. Well, maybe not Louis. Did you know they NEVER have sales?

So, how does my mama do it? She doesn’t think there are any secrets, and I do think it’s best to watch her art in action…here are a couple of my own observations:

  • My mama is fearless. Sales people can smell your fear from a mile away, and it’s easier to say no to someone that’s hesitant about asking for what they want.

  • My mama kills them with kindness. She asks with a smile on her face, and if they, at first, say no…she doesn’t seem angry or irritated, in the least bit. (She just tries again a little later when the sales person’s guard is down.)

  • My mama is always prepared to walk away. Even if she really wants whatever she’s negotiating, you would never be able to tell. She acts like there’s nothing she needs or wants, and we’ve walked away many, many times. Now, this one takes a lot of maturity. Some of us (I won’t name names) still act like we’re two and we throw tantrums when we can’t get what we want or when my mama walks away in the middle of a deal going south.

  • My mama knows when to stop. She would be great at “The Price is Right”. She has a figure in her head, and when a sales person reaches it, she knows when to take out her nicely negotiated, never-pay-full- price-I’m-pretty-sure-it’s-designer wallet.

et cetera