Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Oh How Times Have Changed

I used to be a very successful shopper. I would go to the mall and easily drop $300 or $400 without thinking too much about it. I would spend $100 at the Chanel counter, move on to some shoes, then an outfit or a nice pair of earrings.

Before my son was born, my husband and I had quite a bit of money. I made only about $15,000 less than he did and boy did we live it up. We would go shopping and buy whatever we felt like, then go eat lunch, then shop some more. We traveled, we drank champagne at expensive bars, we parked valet. Were we crass and materialistic? I suppose we were, although it didn't feel like it. I knew many people who bought way more than I ever did, but the trick for them was that they charged their purchases, then paid the minimum on their credit cards. My husband and I almost always paid off our balance in full.

Because of our penchant for saving money even though we spent quite a bit of it, we were able to put a fairly large down payment on our townhome. The one thing we did NOT pay off was our wedding, we figured we could pay the whole thing off in about a year without any dent in our standard of living. Also at that time, we bought a townhouse-full of brand new furniture, new washer and dryer, new refrigerator, and many other things we felt we needed to start out in our home. My husband bought a new car (he really did need it). Needless to say, we had quite a bit of debt come on all at once, although we had our one year plan, and if things had stayed the same, it would have worked out perfectly.

However, God usually has other plans for you, and our son came as what we like to call a "surprise blessing" two months after we were married. At only three months pregnant I had to go on disability, thus cutting my paycheck by about a third. I had always told my husband that when we had children, I wanted to stay home with them. It is not for me to have someone else take care of my children for 80% of the time. Why have them if you are going to have someone else raise them?

But I digress. We took a huge cut in income by me staying at home and now we are poor, poor, poor. Yesterday we made our list of people we were buying for Christmas, and we had 12 children on it, plus about 10 adults, and that is cutting out people whom we normally would have bought for. All I can say is thank goodness for Tuesday Morning and Target. We had a very strict budget that we actually stayed under, and managed not to look too cheap in the meantime. It is hard for me to adjust to this, the lack of financial freedom of any kind. Every purchase I make I have to think about and justify the cost.

But is that such a really bad thing after all? Isn't thinking about what you buy and essentially paying as you go a good strategy for living life? Being caught up with the latest things and having the most expensive things isn't necessarily the path to happiness.

My path to happiness is being with my son and raising him along with my husband. It is seeing him grow and blossom into an intelligent, loving human being who will hopefully enrich the world. That my friends, is worth all the Chanel makeup in the world.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I understand. We've been poor for so long!