Saving for the Storm
Sept. 16, 2011
Five years ago, soon after our son Bob was born, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home with the new guy and that we would do the necessary downsizing to accommodate living on one income. We saved a lot by making the move from our cute place in the nice neighborhood by the beach, to the cheaper place in the sorta sketchy neighborhood between the Sikh ashram and the duplex of ill repute. Later we made another move to the even cheaper place in the pretty trees neighborhood with the great public schools.
The work to make that cheaper/nicer/school-ier wish-list a reality was a job in itself and took the better part of a year.
We have also made a number of little changes along the way. There was a subtle but substantial shift from moderate DINK-hood (Double Income No Kids) to SITPD-ness (Sweating It 'Til Pay Day). Goodbye Banana Republic/Pottery Barn/Whole Foods. Hello Old Navy/Target/Trader Joe's. Again, these were small adjustments but they did add up to savings. We are fortunate. These domestic and lifestyle tweaks were not hardships. Making some moves to clear the debt side of our balance sheet, build for the future (Home Buying/College/Retirement) and save for the possible (Lay Off/Unemployment/Uh-Oh) is common sense, but not extreme behavior.Finance guru Suze Orman suggests that during this crazy-nuts financial time, we should all be living off half of our income and banking the rest for the storm. We are not saving at that rate. Now that our previous cutbacks are just part of the regular routine, I believe I have become somewhat complacent. It may be time to switch it up a little and look for new ways to save but in order to save half of what we earn we would have to move into our station wagon. I’m afraid we will have to settle for a happy (yet somewhat nervous) spot in the middle.
—Lisa is a former comedy writer for television. She now writes about her funny family at her blog Smacksy.com