Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Very First World Problem

I’ve found myself with a seemingly preposterous worry lately.

I am worried that my boys won’t know how to do without.

It seems like such a ridiculous thing to be concerned about. However I have been hit in the face repeatedly over the years with what it can mean. How it can make your life far MORE difficult to not have that knowledge than to have some privation during the early years.

I mostly see this as a problem when I’ve tried to widen my social circle. I find myself bumping into people are genuinely going through a difficult periodand they truly seem to have have trouble defining luxury from necessity.

I find it laughable that suggestions from the group to save money are along the lines of “shop around for a better cable deal” (you mean you didn’t do that in the first place?). In my mind, you should cancel all luxury services immediately as step one. Always making sure that you are getting the best price for your service and should happen just as part of regular life.

Step two should be tightening the rest of your budget: finding free entertainment; lowering your grocery bill with coupons and cheaper brands/options; cooking from scratch rather than purchasing prepared foods; doing “swaps” with friends for toys, clothing, books rather than shopping; using the basics (salt, boiling water, vinegar, etc.) as cleaners instead of pricey cleansers; and begin a food producing garden to further reduce your grocery bill are a few ideas.

Step 3 should be when the pain hits. You’ve now cut all the fat there is and are down to what it takes to support your family. Here is when you get an additional job, find new homes for your pets, ration food, and do other DRASTIC measures to keep going. Like decide what basic utilities you will now do without (water or power? which is it?). Will you cook and eat that goose your dog just killed?

I know what I can live without. I’ve been without power or running water (I learned if it came down to it, I’d pay for water before power). I’ve been without a car. I’ve been on rations. I know how to get by on very little and hope my boys never have to learn those lessons by experience. However, I worry if they don’t, if something happens they won’t have the skills to cope with that reality. And what if I'm not here to help them navigate?

1 comment:

caramama said...

Though it is a very first world problem, it is a real one in the first world we live in. It's amazing the things people think they can't live without, until they have to. And it's equally amazing how hard the transition is for a lot of us first world people to start doing without.

We've been poor, but never had to resort to step 3. We are very fortunate. But we at least have a basic understanding of what it really means to go without, and we hope to pass that on to our kids as well. The best I can figure, as I'm sure you are doing, is talk about it. Volunteer in soup kitches. Donate toys and clothes and everything else to charities that help those in need. And talk talk talk. Not just, "Some kids in Africa don't have Wii's either." But real talks about what life must be like and how difficult things can be for those not as lucky as us.