I’ve been poor. From mid-teens until about age 30, I was poor. Raising two kids on $12,000 a year poor. So I would hardly call the situation we find ourselves in today poor. We can pay all of our bills every month, which in my mind negates real poverty.
That being said, a couple of things have happened that have affected our bottom line. First, my ex-husband was laid off his job. A victim of the economy, and by proxy so are we because no income equals no child support. And second, because of my school schedule, I cut my work hours from 40 to 20 per week. Those two things equate to about a 1/3 reduction in our monthly income.
So, is poverty (or the feeling of poverty) the mother of creativity? It’s my experience that it can be. For the last several years, we’ve been able to pretty much spend without much thinking. We don’t budget for groceries, for dinners out, for clothing or entertainment. When we wanted something, we just bought it. Our new situation necessitates that we actually become mindful of our money and where it goes. I can’t help but think that’s not entirely a bad thing.
It isn’t exactly news that Christmas is in a few weeks. This year’s gift-giving is going to be significantly different than in years past. My husband is a little freaked out by that, but I’m finding it exciting. We have three birthdays (Kevin, Nick, Ruby) and Christmas all in December, starting with Ruby’s 5th Birthday on the 8th. Here’s some things we have planned:
1. I picked up Ruby an art easel at the local toy store for about $30. This is more than I would have liked to spend, but after months of looking, I wasn’t able to find one at the thrift stores or a garage sale. I really love living in a rural area, but being 250 miles away from big cities and big thrift stores occassionally has it’s draw backs. Ruby is very in to art, and this easel will last her throughout her childhood. She also has paper and crayons from the Family Dollar to go with it. This gift can be built on for Christmas with more art supplies.
2. When our computer got a terrible virus last summer, and I was panicked about getting my school work done, I bought an Acer mini laptop for $250 from Wal-Mart. Now that our big computer is working again. Nick is getting it as a 16th birthday present on the 12th. He already knows, and is ecstatic. Obviously a $250 gift isn’t frugal, but we already own it. Also, Adrienne and Nick’s dad has a tradition of buying our kids and his stepkids a computer for their 16th birthday (he is NOT frugal!!) Since he’s out of work, that isn’t going to happen this time. Just a fact of life.
3. We’re making some of Ruby’s Christmas presents. Specifically a doorway puppet theater with puppets, and a dollhouse with furniture. I’ll post more about them, with pictures and everything soon. I wasn’t so sure about the doll house…until yesterday when Ruby took the box her birthday gift from her grandparents came in and made her own doll house, then spent all day making furniture for it. She woke up this morning and jumped right to it again. She’s added dog grooming business made out of a plastic ice cream container. How’s that for the mother of creativity?
4. Last summer I took a cross-country train ride to a conference in Washington DC. The train hit a tow truck and I missed part of the conference. Amtrak sent me a $150 gift certificate. It’s going to be used to buy Adrienne’s Christmas present. A train trip to San Francisco, including a tour of UC Berkeley. This won’t happen until the spring, because driving conditions between us and the train station 180 miles away are hard to predict in the winter. But she’s super excited about her adventure gift.