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January 31, 2009

Homespun Stimulus Package

-2 Congress may have passed an $819 billion dollar stimulus package this week but I've been working on my own strategies to stretch the family dollar. A trip to the supermarket for a family of four living in the Big Apple can induce heart palpitations when the cashier hits the total key. I find myself second guessing everything in my cart before heading to the checkout these days. It's like a game of Survivor with produce and canned goods filling in for the contestants.

Flash forward to two weeks ago when I found myself rifling through the local pennysaver to see if there were any coupon circulars. I had become my mother's daughter (seriously, her email address starts with couponlady). In the old days my mom would stop the car if she spotted the signature plastic bag and make me or my sister run out and "borrow" our neighbor's copy. While I was rightfully helping myself to the ones on my own stoop, I still couldn't help but feel a sense embarrassment. In my gentrified Carroll Gardens neighborhood, where everyone else in my five-unit co-op tosses the pennysavers in the trash, I was rummaging through them in broad daylight. Later that day, I found myself tucking a stack of coupons out of sight before a classmate and her mom from my daughter's kindergarten class came over for a playdate.

Why the shame and secets? It's not like I was drinking in the middle of the day. I was just doing what we as a country should've been doing for a long while now: exercising thrift and caution with our budgets. The ironic thing about the solution to our national economic woes is that people need to start spending again to revive it. Spending though, is was got us into this mess in the first place. I hope President Obama was listening when Paul Krugman, a New York Times op-ed contributor, said on This Week with George Stephanopolous that we need to teach people to spend within their means. For now the end to my means just saved me $34 on diapers and other essentials at CVS. Thanks for the lesson mom and keep on clippin'.

This is an original post to NYC Moms Blog. Jennifer also blogs about the search for balance at The Daily Juggle and The Mama Chronicles —where you'll also find ideas to solve the "what's for dinner" dilemma.

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