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May 26, 2009

What Daddy Never Taught You: How to Gracefully Fall into a Recession


Money I came from a middle class family.  Never heard the word, “No” often. Both my parents owned their own businesses and pretty much provided us with everything we needed and wanted.  If we wanted gum and the store, they’d say, “Sure.” If we wanted new cool jeans they’d say, “Okay, as long as they are affordable.” No was not in our family vocabulary. 

Our parents set the parameters and stuck to them.  Maybe it was because they worked so much and felt badly.  I don’t know.  But the message it did send was I had to work hard when I grew up.  It was clear that when mom didn’t have the cash she’d tell us. She’d say, I don’t have money with me so I can’t buy that dress for you.  No problem.  We were not ungrateful.  But we did push the limits like all kids do. 

When our parents were not home, we new where they were: at work. When we’d over step the boundaries they’d often say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  We’d reply with, “of course it doesn’t, the bank makes it!” We’d laugh and finish eating our spaghetti and meatballs.

The message I’m trying to get at is, I work hard because that’s what I saw my parents do - I was exposed to the benefit of having money.  Having enough to eat, dine out, vacation and pay bills.  We were by no means wealthy.  My parents made their wealth when we went off to college.  The fruits of their labor still continue to grow and their grandchildren see it.

Fast forward to fifteen years later.  I find a man who makes a good income.  I make a good income have an advanced degree and a license.  We co-buy a very nice home, raise two healthy kids and some cats.  We drive decent cars, have homeowners and great health insurance.  We take one vacation a year.  We dine out a few times per month and still have a little play money.  We are the middle class.  At the end of the day, we can barely save what we have made, because we have to pay income tax.  I’m not complaining, just stating the facts.

It’s 2009 and we are in the dead center of a recession.  If you can’t hear me, I said, “Recession.”  I was in denial.  What in the heck is a recession anyway?  I’m in my forties and have never experience a recession or have a clue as to how it could seriously effect my marriage, my kids and my self worth as a business owner.

There are no more dinners out, big grocery store purchases, we are in jeopardy of losing our health insurance.  I’m doing a swap with my son’s preschool so I don’t have to pay the high tuition.  What the h*#&*. This is NOT how I grew up.  Through thick and thin, my parents made money.  When times were tight, dad would rub his eyes and say, “I’m broke.”  But then weeks later he’d be smiling again.

This last Christmas I asked the grandparents to buy our kids their gifts.  We also didn’t exchange any adult gifts this year.  I know the holiday is not about presents, but my kids are excited when Santa comes, and so am I.  I will not change family tradition if I don’t have to. I have hope that my husband and I will be financially afloat sometime in the near future.

Growing up, my father taught me that it was not how much money you make that’s important, it’s how much you SAVE.  Now I know why.

I always had a savings account as a kid and as an adult.  Unfortunately, that savings that has been tucked away for years is slowly becoming my “milk money.” I hate dipping into it.  I have worked so hard to keep it growing for retirement.   But since we are in a recession, yes you HEARD me, a recession, I have to dip. My husband has not worked for three months now, so I am hustling my services like never before.  He’s home with the kids, and I’m bread winning.  How do you like those cookies (generic, no big name brand of course)?

So what if your daddy never taught you to save?  What are you doing to keep afloat during these times? 

Posted on Los Angeles Moms Blog by Kimberley Clayton Blaine, as most know her as the Internet's Go-To Mom, who can be found shooting her parenting show at www.TheGoToMom.TV

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