As most of you know, my husband and family bread winner lost his previously-lucrative position in a home building business last October. Things have been tough, to say the least. The construction market isn't exactly open to new hires but he's been working all his contacts and looking at alternative careers. We had put away $ for a rainy day, but now it's storming and we're in a very precarious position. The good news is that I've landed a wonderful part-time job at a great employer who offers benefits, but it isn't enough to support our family of five. He's working short-term jobs and starting his own businesses but for about 1/3 of his previous income. Our modest but perfect dream home is on the market. And we just pray to anyone who'll listen that the car, washing machine, etc just keeping running.
I grew up with very little cash - my Dad was a state employee. We didn't have much spending power but Dad always had a secure job. Then I was a Social Worker after college. So I'm no stranger to living on a shoe string, which helps.
Anyway, back to my point. I've learned some great lessons through this and now I'll share:
1. Friends love potlucks! People just enjoy getting together with other friends, and many of them are tightening their belts too. Potlucks are a great way to entertain.
2. People love you all the same even when you're suddenly poor. In fact, they love you even more for holding your head up and plowing ahead.
3. Help comes from sources you never, ever expected
4. Knowing you have several families who would take you in is a blessing that money can't buy.
5. Other things money can't buy: healthy kids, a good marriage, good friends, a big happy extended family, 46 years with my Grandma
6. Things go more smoothly in the long run if you pay as much as you can on every bill you can. Sometimes you can't make all the ends meet in a crisis but each utility etc likes to see something put down.
7. There are lots of fabulous consignment clothing stores in the Twin Cities and Rochester.
8. You CAN be happy without a credit card. I put all mine away and have used one of them once since October.
9. If you're a big reader like me, find a good used book store. Mine buys my books and gives me more $ in store credit if I don't take it in cash. And of course there's always the library.
10. Basic cable's not so bad: our 10 crappy channels actually keep us away from the TV, which is really a good thing. I hated Hannah Montana anyway.
11. Old vans that are paid for and run great are one of life's simple pleasures.
12. Picnics at a free beach are lovely.
13. Hair dye in a box looks just as good as a professional job. And $7 versus $75 is a no-brainer.
14. Purex laundry detergent cleans just fine.
15. My kids have rediscovered their bikes.
16. The really important moments in life have nothing to do with your bank account.
17. Northwest Airlines just announced a lay off of 2600 folks in management, so we certainly aren't alone.