A few months ago, I broke up with Target. I had no choice. I wasn't unable to control myself when I set foot through its sliding doors. And given the dismal state of our economy, our family had to make some changes.
Initially, it was tough. Three months later, I’m still slowly getting over it. I consider myself a recovering Targaholic. I can now reflect on how lovely that time was, but also recognize that I’m – I mean, my wallet - is better off now. At least that’s what Really Big Guy tells me.
But little did I know that my split with the big red bull’s eye was only the beginning of a whole new process. The process of re-evaluating our family priorities when it came to the ever important, fleeting dollar.
So far, we’ve been fortunate. But the world we live in has changed dramatically. And now, we’re not the only ones trying to stay on top of things in the event they continue to plummet.
So let’s play a little game. Then vs. now, suburban style. Not to make us feel badly, but instead, to remind ourselves that it could be worse. To remind ourselves that we really can cut back without suffering and crying woe is me.
Back then, I had a passionate relationship with tall skim lattes. Now, I can’t remember what good coffee taste like.
Back then, I’d visit the grocery store a few times a week and shop for what I was in the mood for. Now, I plan my meals in advance and only shop once a week. And it just kills me to walk by stuff not on my list. Everything looks better when it’s not on the list.
Back then, I wouldn’t cringe if the kids offered their friends a bottle of water. Now, I toss them a filled pitcher and tell them to write their initials on their cups.
Back then, a blown water pipe on a Saturday afternoon would send us running to the telephone to call someone to fix it quickly, without regards to the weekend emergency rate. Now, we try home solutions first. But when the putty explodes and your BFF’s husband is standing soaking wet in your crawlspace, it’s time to make the call.
Back then, every Friday was pizza night. Now it’s breakfast for dinner. It’s amazing how strange shaped pancakes with milkshakes can make up for no pepperoni.
Back then, I used to sign my kids up for summer camp back in March, the minutes the schedules came out. Now, I’ll have to wait and see what the times bring. It may be that we’ll all enjoy getting to know each other even better this summer.
Back then, if the kids were hungry after school and we had to run to a practice, I’d pick up –as in purchase - sandwiches to eat in the car. Now, veggie nuggets, peanut butter sandwiches and microwave popcorn all from kitchen a la Lane rule.
Back then, I read all those fashion rags and would plan to buy a few cute pieces a season. Now, I’ve let all my subscriptions expire, believing that out of sight really is out of mind. If I don’t see the trends, I can safely assume that khaki shorts and a white T-shirt are always in style. Who knew I was cool?
Back then, the coupons in the Sunday paper were what I dumped in the recycle pile first. Now, I trade with my BFF. And there are times we fight for the good ones. Really.
Then vs. now? Or is it really need vs. want? When you think about it in these terms, reprioritizing easy.
Cutting back may be inconvenient. Tedious. It may make us a little melancholy. But it’s really not going to kill us. If anything, it opens our eyes to what is really going on. It makes our children appreciate the value of a dollar. It allows us to finally understand how our grandparents got that “go without” mentality.
Because even if life returns to normal, the lesson has been embedded in us. Life in the suburbs has changed.