But I find that although our disposable income has declined as an affect of having a month off and cutting back on entertainment and fun in order to save, our quality of life has suffered little.
I have to admit that Dave and I, with our hedonistic nature, are very much use to spending money whenever and however we want. We treat ourselves all the time. For us this means going out to movies, eating whatever we are craving (though, with me eating healthier the last 2 months, it's more eating whatever I am craving within the constraints of my lifestyle), going to concerts, going out for dinner, taking cabs everywhere, going shopping, buying for each other and our friends. When I write it out, it sounds very materialistic, but I can assure you it is not in that vein. More or less it is simply the D.I.N.K lifestyle (Double Income No Kids) we've become accustomed too. So, not necessarily materialistic so much as free of most financial burdens. Definitely selfish in some ways, as we have no kids or dependants to think of and truly just ourselves.
As Gwen Stefani once sang "Now all those simple things are simply too complicated for my life/How'd I get so faithful to my freedom?/A selfish kind of life"
With our current economical living, we are prone to lament to one another when we feel the pangs of living frugal. I have to admit we'd gotten very use to our financial freedom and, perhaps, even took it for granted.
But I grew up poor. Not the "we were poor and we didn't know it" kind of poor. More like the "we were poor and others didn't know it, but we felt it keenly" kind. Being raised by a single mother, who was in university and not getting any child support, while having three other siblings meant juice boxes, cereal and pudding packs just weren't in the cards. But looking back on this I have to admit I feel proud. We grew up with real food made from real ingredients with real effort. Without knowing it, our mom was raising us in the "slow food" movement.
As I cooked dinner today (my veggies bought from the cheapest produce market in town and making the most out of two chicken breasts for not only dinner but left overs for lunch for Dave and I tomorrow) I told Dave how I was raised to make, to quote my mom, "Something out of nothing." I revealed how we'd have a bare pantry, a bare fridge and mom was broke (rent, school fees, life in general). Somehow, as if conjuring wine from water and gold from coal, she'd figure out a delicious meal. She'd have a big smile on her face as we helped her cook while she'd say proudly to my sister and I how we pulled together a great meal out of nothing.
In those moment, necessity truly was the mother invention.
It's not just in the kitchen these skills she passed onto me come into play. Teaching us how to sew, how to cut hair, how to re-purpose furniture and so many other skills that a lot of my friends simply don't possess. She was not rearing us to be domestic housewives but instead to be capable in all domains. She was teaching us to be resourceful and not take the path of least resistance. I said to Dave this evening, "There are people who, no matter how much money they make, they will always eat Hamburger Helper because it's all they know."
I have fond memories of all the home made halloween costumes, haircuts in the kitchen and long nights sitting on the floor beside the sewing machine as she peiced together a new school wardrobe.
I feel great pride that no matter how much money is in my bank account, my quality of life does not diminish. I feel capable in the world and in my home. I smile and walk proudly with this knowledge. I love to take a no longer used item and turn it into something beautiful. Whenever I sew/reconstruct something I no longer wear or found in a thrift store and make it into something people love I feel the same pride I did when we made a meal out of nothing. I love that I know how to patch a hole in a wall, unclog my food disposal or refinish a desk.
Being poor, being resourceful and being independent, whether by choice or circumstance, gave me the tools to thrive while others only survive.