Wednesday, April 9, 2008
A Life of Riches
America’s economic crisis is now becoming my economic crisis. When I first began hearing the dire news a year ago, I didn’t feel the impact so much. But now, probably like most Americans, thoughts of money and bills and the future dominate my days.
My family has made a lot of changes in an attempt to weather the crisis. And, my initial reaction to making the changes was one of suffering, not being able to live my life as I had been. I have, however, changed my perspective a bit these last few weeks.
As I have listened every night on the evening news about the U.S. either heading towards a recession or as some financial analysts believe, already in a recession, I decided to look for something positive in these changing times. And, it really wasn’t hard to find the silver lining to the economy’s cloud.
First, my family doesn’t eat out very much anymore. Whether it was fast food, carryout, delivery, or a sit-down restaurant, we had been eating out 2-3 times a week. Now, once a week is considered a treat. What’s the positive? It’s a whole heck of a lot easier to eat healthier when you prepare the meals yourself. My children have even commented on how much better they feel in the last few months. I’m not sure they have made the connection from feeling better to healthier eating, but it is obvious to me.
Secondly, we stay home a lot more these days. We don’t just jump in the car and go places like we used to. We plan our trips more, and as a result, trips have become something to look forward to. We spend a lot more time as a family, sitting together in our family room, playing board games, watching TV shows together, reading, and having some great conversations.
My children ride their bikes more and that means increased exercise. We live close to a library, so they often ride to the library to check out books. More money saved. My oldest son visits freecycle.org frequently, posting items we no longer need but someone else may have a use for, or looking for items we might be able to use – and as the title of the website says, it’s FREE. We walk around the neighborhood more. We are meeting and visiting with our neighbors and really building a sense of community that often was missing in the busy, hectic lives everyone used to live.
Those are just a few of the positives. I’ll bet we could come up with a long list if everyone really tried. Gas at $4 a gallon still really hurts – the cost of groceries still causes a great deal of worry – major, unplanned expenses can still send me reeling, but I am determined to find some good in all this. And I hope that ‘good’ means my family grows wealthier in ways that don’t include money.