One of the best things about the recession is that it's almost made it fashionable to be frugal now.
I really don't mean to sound flippant when I say that. I know that for thousands of people there is no choice involved in having to budget and spend very carefully and that so many are having to make the unimaginable choice of whether they eat or heat their homes when it's cold.
I remind myself everyday that SM and I are very fortunate to have our health and good, secure jobs. That we are happy and really have more than we could ever need to sustain our lives. We want for nothing and this abundance has actually made me feel embarrassed over the last 2 -3 years.
When I see people around me struggling to find employment, worrying about whether they will keep their jobs and manage to keep on paying their bills, I wonder how they keep going. But of course they just have to. They don't have a choice.
When I asked is it fashionable to be frugal, I think what I meant was that it's now acceptable for people to tighten their belts, so to speak. Before the credit crunch 'everyone' was buying bigger houses, new cars, fancy holidays, building extensions, eating out all the time. Money appeared to be no object for most people and no one seemed to be admitting that it was all rather expensive.
I wonder now if a lot of people are almost breathing a sigh of relief? It's not really the done thing to be bragging about the new kitchen you're having fitted, the brand new car you've ordered or how much one's property is worth these days. Has the pressure been lifted to keep up with the Joneses? Are many people secretly quite glad to live within their means?
If there's something good to come out of this recession I really hope that it's that people are getting back to what's important in life. Recognising that looking after you and your family's basic needs is what matters and cutting out the superfluous rubbish.
Although we don't have to budget carefully I want to. We could go out and buy the latest games consoles, fancy TVs, excess clothes, new cars etc but I don't want to. I want more for myself and my family. I have so many 'wants' but very few are based on material things.
I want to have some savings, I want to be able to make some investments. I want to pay my mortgage off early.
I want to give my children the benefit of experiences in their lives and have the opportunity to have hobbies / past times that we otherwise couldn't afford.
I want them to relish the prospect of spending an afternoon walking in the woods, perhaps foraging for berries when in season or 'wombling' old wood for the fire, like we did today.
I don't want my children to think it is 'normal' to spend Saturday and Sunday trawling around shopping malls, thinking that money grows on trees. I don't want them to be interested in consumerism. I don't want them to care if they don't have the latest fashion items or endless new techno gadgets.
Most of all I don't want them to care if others tell them that isn't normal.