A friend of mine told me about an article in the LA Times that asked who has given up their gardeners now that we’re in a recession. I decided to discuss this with the Momversation panelists and ask them what they’ve given up in a recession… and what they won’t give up.
No, not another piece about the falling stock market or whether I agree with Obama’s stimulus package. ‘Cause frankly, I have no idea what to think about that. If this downturn has taught me anything, it’s that I’m going to make sure my kids are more financially savvy than I am. That they understand mortgages, and that condo boards can make your home financially impossible, and still the jacuzzi is broken. That they understand if they invest in stocks they better be able to understand things like cost ratio and leverage, you know, the stuff I barely grasp.
I’m part of that generational shift where we were told we were unique and wonderful. And I bought it. I thought I was special. But the more years I have learned is I am one of the masses. During macro economic upturns I have done well; during downturns I lost money or experienced unemployment. The graphs of the U.S. economy almost exactly mirror my own ups and downs. So, along with the big dose of liberal education I have received and positive thinking, a greater grasp of finances would have been a plus. And I’m not a total knucklehead; I don’t walk around with credit card debt, and I know how to balance a checkbook. But I’ve certainly stepped in some dumb money decisions.
Anyway, so what did my education make me fit for? Writing jokes for Star magazine. I write jokes every week for the “Worst of the Week” pages. It’s one liners about famous people’s bad outfits. Sometimes I’ve never heard of them, but I still write jokes. I send in about 2 or 3 per person, and then the magazine decides which to run. And it’s a good thing I’m not famous because I’d be snapped dropping my daughter off at school and be ridiculed more than Octomom’s Donald Duck lips.
I didn’t major in satire. I majored in Sociology. Same thing.
The picture is one from 2 years ago when I came home from commenting on the Oscar fashion for CNN headline. My hair is underwhelming, but they would only provide makeup for me, so I had to wing the hair. I had to find a designer who would loan me a dress myself. But that’s life on the G-list. Viv is the best accessory. There is probably a joke there like: Don’t buy a designer bag; buy a designer baby!
This is one of the bleaker Christmases I can remember. Most everyone is totally freaked about money. Even if they haven’t lost their own, they worry they will. Even in prosperous times, I think spending a bunch of money on adults is silly. Buy the kids presents. My family does a Secret Santa for the older set, so there is something to open. But years back, I got physically and financially exhausted from buying everyone presents. And as I said years ago to my family, “Unless you can give me a development deal at ABC, anything I want I can get myself.” Since I don’t think they are going to buy me a week cruising the Greek Islands, that’s basically correct. And isn’t better to give to charity?
But this year I’m having a change of heart. Businesses, small and large even, are the charities. Witness how charitable our government has to be to the financial markets, to the car companies. I know some sweet small stores that wait for hours for a $30 sale.
So if you have any, go ahead, and spend some money. The law of circulation; it all goes around. I don’t know if it’s what Jesus would do. But with these great sales, maybe he would.
How many times have you gotten a request from a friend to support them in a run/walk/swim/trip to a developing nation? I just gave some money to one request as I periodically do, but I’d love to blow most of them off. Oh, wait, that’s right, I do.
Number one, there’s so many of them.
Number two, it takes a certain amount – sometimes quite bit – of the money raised to actually finance the triathlon or what have you. If the person wants to raise money for a cause, I would be more apt to give if it was, “Hey, I decided this year I want to raise money for (fill in the blank disease or cause). I’ve kicked in a grand, would you please give what you can?” I think too often, while part of their heart is in the right place, part of it also wants to see if they can do a 10k. I don’t ask anyone to pay for my training. If I had any.
My feeling on this is also colored because years ago, a boyfriend was going on an AIDS ride in Alaska. He loved to work out, so he liked the physical challenge. He had to raise about $3,600, at least half of which paid for the ride. It was a drag while he was raising it, and he would be gone for two weeks. I didn’t want him to go. I said, “Raise a grand, give it to AIDS, and stay at home.” He went anyway and came home talking about what an “incredible experience it was.” I couldn’t share his enthusiasm, much as I guess Jennifer Aniston didn’t share Brad Pitt’s excitement for his film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Weeks later, he finally confessed what I had an inkling of: he’d had oral sex with a female masseuse from New York in a tent in Alaska. What charitable people!
The economic downturn is on everyone’s minds. But is that because we are hearing about it, because we see some signs of it, or because we are directly affected by it? I have noticed many small shops near me go out of business. Several clothing boutiques, specialty stores, and nice stationary businesses closing their doors – those are the kinds of things people spend money on when they are not worried about basics.
I know a couple of people who have been laid off, and my husband’s business has seen some nicks in sales. But, knock on wood, we haven’t taken a big hit. That’s partly because I refuse to look at my 401k; I won’t need for a few more years, so why torture myself? We locked in our loan right before the bacon hit the skillet so phew to that.
What I want to know is, how are all of you doing? How is this economic downturn affecting you?
Given this is not the end of the problem, we might need to revisit this poll soon…
Remember that feeling of tugging at your loose tooth? It was in the soft tissue of your gum, hanging by a thread. It’s great how not self-conscious we are at that age. Actually almost eager to have large gaps in our mouths. If an adult has gaps like that, they are a hillbilly or a meth addict. But a pretty good whistler. So here I ponder a question of adulthood. How much do you pay off the kid for losing their little tooth?