“Hard Economic Times” seem to affect those who have lived in an extended fashion more than those who have managed their lives and finances close to the belt. If while in the concept of plenty we are living large, enjoying the fruits of our labor, playing keep up and catch up with the Joneses, we can expect any type of economic crunch to become “hard economic times.”
My thought this morning began as I was hanging the laundry in the bright sunlight. Not about the clothes themselves, but the clothes pins. We are marketed all kinds of bag closures – magnetic, giant plastic frames that say “chips,” “cereal,” or “bread.” If we were to look around we could save our precious dollars and use what we have – clothes pins, paper clips, binder clips, anything used to hold things together. Mostly we have to look around.
We (Americans) have become content to watch the news and forget that we are a part of the world. Our attention is heighted only as we feel the effects of economic stress personally. So the fact that the rest of the world has been dealing with wheat and rice shortages, rioting even, doesn’t hit home until Sam’s Club and Costo limit bulk purchases of rice (and it makes the evening news, even though it is a sham). The price of wheat affects the price of beer. The cost of fuel – petro - becomes evident in the cost of all staples - bread, milk, anything moved down the road by vehicle to the grocer.
So, it’s time to tighten our buckles, yes? Perhaps for many, but let’s visit the others who have lived within their means. As this is subjective, I will define “means” my way. In my opinion, living within one’s means, includes giving, saving, and expenses that stay below 80% of the net income. Sad that we are able to borrow based on the gross, but must pay back based on the net. Understandably, there are expenses that arise and reach into the formula, except that giving and saving must stay systematic.
Giving acknowledges that we belong to a world greater than the one we face on a daily basis. Giving reminds us that we have the means and opportunity to support others. Giving can restore our sense of humanity and community. We give in love out of self interest, knowing that as we give to others we give to ourselves.
Saving allows us a little extra cover. Imagine crawling into bed with the blankets and sheets that reach over the sides. When you turn in the night, the warmth stays around you. That’s savings. It’s not about the amount, but rather, the intention of setting aside for another time, different choice, or next opportunity.
The net income is what we started with, having shared appropriately with the federal, state, and local governments (parking, dues, insurance, and retirement – maybe). I am positive it takes a great deal of forethought to maintain balance between what one earns and what one spends. We are inundated with choices, opportunities and pressure to hand over our hard earned cash. Find absolutely no judgment here regarding how your money is spent. I have plenty of spending errors I am correcting as I clear my space. However, in being thoughtful of the economic front we must at least bring our attention and awareness to how, when, where and what we spent.
Take a moment to honestly examine where the money goes. Rediscover your cash like a long lost lover. Explore its value; inhale its essence; admire the remembered pleasure. Think, “Would I give you over so freely, again?” Without holding both the value of our cash and what it takes to receive it we allow money to slip through our fingers unnoticed, unaware.
“Hard economic times” will have less impact on those who become and remain mindful of both their needs and the resources to meet them. As we bring focus on our behaviors we have the first tool for change. Hard economic times require change.