By Maureen K.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would like being poor, I would have called you crazy. Both my husband and I had just lost our jobs and we were just coming to the realization that we were no longer going to be able to live the life of luxury that we had been living up until that point. In one fell swoop, we had gone from being able to afford basically anything we wanted to being poor.
I must admit that the first 6 months weren’t pretty. There was a lot of resentment and complaining deep inside that came out much too often. It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t have everything that I wanted or that I had to make sacrifices that I never had to make before. It was a rough period and there was a lot of shouting, accusing and bad attitude as we were adjusting to our new financial circumstances.
But a funny thing happened after that. Once we began to adjust to not having the money we used to have, being poor wasn’t nearly as terrible as I had imagined. In fact, there were times that I downright enjoyed it.
I get to spend more time with my family: Since we no longer have the money to pay for entertainment that used to occupy our time, we now entertain ourselves. That entertainment has come by spending more time together.
Life has slowed down: When we had a lot of money, there always seemed to be a rush about everything. We needed to go there, we couldn’tmiss that. The lack of money has made me (and my entire family) a lot more relaxed and easy going.
We have a lot more family projects: When we had money, we were more of a group of individuals that a family unit. We each did what we wanted and often ignored the other members of the family. Now that we are all required to stay home a lot more often than in the past, we have come together and do family projects. We recently repainted my daughter’s room together. In the past, we would have hired out this work to others.
We play a lot more games: We do play more games as a family like scrabble and cards, but we also turn a lot of the ways we save money into games. For example, we now have a contest where we see if we can cut the amount we pay on our utility bills each month. If we succeed, 50% of the savings we manage to save is used to go out for a meal, ice-cream or some other treat.
I now know our needs: I thought I knew our needs when we had money, but I had been greatly mistaken. Technology and habit blinded me from reality. The fact is that there is very little that we actually need: shelter, clothing, healthy food and water, a safe neighborhood. A lot of the gadgets and toys that I once thought I would die without turned out to not be necessary at all.
We eat better and together: Meals used to be on the run, usually prepackaged and often eaten outside the house. When we could no longer afford to do this, it was surprising how much better we began to eat. I cook a lot more from scratch and we have a lot more meals as a family unit than we used to.
We waste less: When I look back to when we had money, I am shocked at the amount that we used to waste. I didn’t think I was wasteful then, but now that we must use as much as we can, I realise that we were incredibly wasteful.
Life is more fun: I can honestly say that life is a lot more fun that it was when we had more money. There is a lot less stress now that we have learned to live with the amount that we make and knowing that even if we don’t have a lot of money, we can still get by.
This is not to say that I hope to always live this way. it can be tough being poor and having to make decisions about how to spend a limited amount of money that I would rather not. However, I do hope that when we are making more money and can afford a lot more than we can today that I can remember the new found attitude that I have and the joys that I may have never found had I never been poor.
Do you have a story about saving money or earning money that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it.