Monday, June 30, 2008

The Buzzword: “Recession”

“Welcome to the recession.” Apparently we’re in one.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve noticed. I’ve noticed the routine $40 instalment of petrol seems to come around all-too-often. I’ve noticed I’m not the only one who shakes the nozzle of the gas pump before removing it from resting in my car’s fuel tank. I’ve noticed the absence of shoppers on late-night Friday. I’ve noticed cheese has become a food for the affluent. Or the reckless, I guess. Or cheese-crazed, or poor mathematicians, those unaware, those who ration carefully, or perhaps those who feel their continued purchase (in spite of the risen cost) is their very own silent protest. Or maybe...just maybe, they are happy to pretend that the drop in weight can be ignored so long as the price per hunk of cheesey goodness is the same (my dear brother-in-law, Nat's theory).

So I don’t say “apparently” because I haven’t observed things are becoming a little tight for us all. I say “apparently” because apparently that’s what we’re calling it; “the recession.”

I’ll tell you who the recession is good for. The recession is good for people like me and Haki – who have made a hobby of living on the cheap (with a dash of reckless spontaneity for flavour, with its repercussive headaches).

I wouldn’t call us frugal, because we’re unworthy of the positive connotations that go along with such a word, but we are definitely cheap.

Sometimes we are cheap out of necessity. We married, and then one or both of us was a student for the first 3 years. Once we’d advanced from this stage of lots-of-time-and-work-put-in-with-no-money-for-it I decided to go into debt to open an art gallery, so we could advance to working for equity (a.k.a. lots-of-time-and-work-put-in-with- no-money-for-it). Yes, it sold, and we did make money, and paid off aforementioned debt…and bought our very own home! (a.k.a. missing-your-old-pretty-rent-sum-now-that-you-pay-your-hefty-mortgage). Yeah, yeah, we know, we don’t even have any kids yet (a.k.a. desperately-sought-additions-to-our-family-that-we-have-not-procrastinated-having-but- know-we-will-love-so-much-we’ll-forget-they-are-Chapter-4-in-our-book-titled- 101-Ways-Not-to-Get-Ahead.)

So we’ve had our reasons to be short on money.

But then, there are those times when we are just cheap.

You can decide which of our habits are which.

We’re living on the cheap when…

  • we both refuse to pay for parking, and will walk in all weather up and down any incline to avoid a fee.
  • we chop sun-dried tomatoes into tiny slivers and make a jar last a month instead of buying fresh tomatoes (believe me, it IS cheaper), and then we use the oil they were stored in for cooking).
  • we refer to the day we will purchase new shoes or clothing as “some day”.
  • we call an 0800 phone-banking number from payphones outside fuel stations, supermarkets, and restaurants to check our balance before swiping the card inside (we know where each and every one of those phones are).
  • the day before pay-day we check in between cushions in the couch and car for coins.
  • I keep a mini-clearfile of vouchers in the central compartment of Thimba (the car), along with scissors for chopping receipts so that they can be filed in their appropriate sleeve. These are organised into sections and ordered by date.
  • we giddily lunge at coins that fall from pockets when we are sorting laundry or hanging clothes.
  • I search for home remedies and alternatives before visiting the chemist or store…I actually used mayonnaise for hair conditioner last month. For the record, I don’t recommend it. Let’s just say you need to either brave very cold water to rinse…or accept hair omelette.

But like I say, there’s definitely that mighty dash of reckless in the mix. We’ll rent that DVD with the $10.00 buffer in the budget, even though it’s not a need…and we’ll buy treats, because we already got the DVD, right? I’ll scour the op-shop for a $5 treasure because “it’s only $5”, and we’ll get that Turkish kebab because we have to buy food anyway...this food’s just cooked…right? And there are veges in it. And it saves the hot water of doing dishes, right? We’ll figure out what we don’t pay as a result...later. Jar of recklessness, shake shake!

I’m far from disciplined.

But all in all, I’m a voucher-toting, food-rationing, nozzle-shaking, distance-parking, balance-checking, coin-happy human.

So you might say “welcome to the recession”, I say “welcome to my world”.

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