My partner-in-crime on Home & Organizing, Erin Doland, wrote an excellent article recently highlighting the benefits of a roller coaster economy. On Monday the Boston Globe had a similar take on the economy in an article called Laid Off And Loving It that I’d really like your personal opinion on. After you read it please come back here to tell me what you think.
Okay, are you back? Good. With so much negative talk out there about the state of our economy and the long road we have to walk to rebuild our nation, many have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees when they’ve lost their job and simply need to pay the rent/mortgage. Completely understandable, it’s hard to be without work and even harder if you didn’t have a nest egg.
Of course, I’m not here to blog about finding a job or even to discuss politics or the economy but rather what YOU personally are doing to avoid turning into a lump of bitter negativity in a time when so many are experiencing hard times. As I mentioned, those who have lost their jobs have good reason to be angry, sad, etc. but once those feelings have been addressed I’m sure you’d agree that it’s really best to do something productive with your time until things change.
Tip: Instead of spending money at restaurants, why not throw a small outdoor party, bake a pie, enjoy being with your family in a natural setting. This is a great idea if you have a backyard or patio of course! But you can do the same indoors. Use the extra time that you have to enjoy your life and the little things that bond your family together (photo: my backyard).
There are many good things that can rise from hard times. The Boston Globe highlighted a few (I will bold their points below), but I’ll add my own comments next to each one for a more personal take on the matter:
1) More time spent with your family, if you have small children this may turn out to be something you look back on with fondness.
2) Rediscover hobbies. Perhaps you never thought about what you really enjoyed other than work. This is a good time to ‘get in touch’ with that side of yourself. It may even help combat depression as doing something you enjoy releases pressure and stress.
3) Visit museums and enjoy other ‘free’ activities in your local city (parks, trails, etc.). While many have an admission fee, most have a "free" day or evening. Being in a different environment for a few hours does wonders when you’re dealing with feelings of hopelessness, loss, etc. You may even feel inclined to bring a journal and bag your own lunch to eat on the lawn (if it’s warm enough) or indoors. You’d be amazed at how much fun you can have without dropping a ton of cash.
4) Walk more, drive less. Opt for the subway over a cab. You’ll be leaner and you can put that money into something more important.
5) Volunteer! Cook food for the homeless. Volunteer at a hospital, animal rescue center, etc. It’s also not a bad thing to bring up during a job interview to a potential employer as your new manager may find it impressive that you spent your time not only job seeking but helping out others.
6) Attend weekly mass at church. While some are not religious, others do find hope and comfort through regular church meetings. They not only find it a good way to connect with their spiritual side but a nice opportunity to meet others in their neighborhood and to to feel a sense of community.
7) Change how you shop, not just now but for the long haul. It honestly is not normal to pay $10 for organic mozzarella cheese! Some of the prices in these designer grocery stores are ridiculous. I shop at several stores each week that are within a five mile radius to get the best deal. My husband and I went from spending nearly $250 a week on groceries to $100 on average. We feel good that we’re shopping smarter.
8) Staff a school field trip. If you have kids ask yourself how long it has been since you staffed a school field trip. If you are embarrassed to answer, it may be a good time to call the teacher and get involved.
The Globe had some other suggestions but I found them hard to relate to, such as "cut back on the nanny", "take a class" and "travel the world". The average household may not have a nanny to begin with and certainly does not have a large enough nest egg to travel the world. And the last time I checked, classes cost money! Although those bits of the article were somewhat hard to relate to I still appreciated the many good points and hope that you will extract the positive too.
Do you have any comments to add to this? How do you cope with living on less? If you are jobless, what are you doing to stay somewhat positive through it all?
(image from the Boston Globe)