Tuesday, May 24, 2011
When we were young we were both working at local places. With no college degree I wasn't in a high paying job, I worked as a travel agent and thought I would go to college once we settled into our marriage and before we started a family. But plans don't always go as expected and I found myself pregnant within a couple months of our wedding and, due to the cost of child care compared to my low salary we decided to try to make it on my husband's income alone. It was a life-changing decision.
We went on to have three more children and for a long time I considered motherhood my job. I threw myself into parenting, working as an aide at the nursery school to pay tuition as each one was old enough to attend, and being class mother for each child's class when they got into elementary school. For fifteen years I was a stay-at-home mother, making money when I could by doing odd jobs (like baking for a caterer and doing free-lance art projects). Still, money was beyond tight.
But, we managed to get a house (with some help from my parents) and we felt lucky to have food on the table. We didn't have any credit cards and rarely went out unless there were grandparents to babysit because there was no extra money for things like that. It was a rare treat to see a movie or eat a meal out, although parents sometimes treated us to dinner. We didn't go on vacations and we paid cash for everything. If we needed to replace an appliance we borrowed the money from family and paid it back as soon as we could. We made many sacrifices to allow me to be home, sacrifices we are still making. But I've never regretted it!
Life was so much simpler then. I worried about paying the bills every month, but at the end of the day we had pretty good credit and didn't miss our mortgage payments. Eventually we qualified for credit cards. Now I think they are one of the worst inventions known to man! It's not that we have huge credit card debt, because we don't. But I often think about how much money we'd be saving if we didn't have the option of pulling out that card whenever we see something we'd like to have. Back in the old days the lay-away plan allowed people to put things aside at stores and pay weekly until it was payed for. But the credit cards are another issue altogether. Combined with the internet, where the world is at our fingers, I think young people are at such a disadvantage. There's just too much temptation out there for them and its way too easy to spend money.
I think perhaps we should go back to the pre-credit card world where it wasn't so easy to get them and we all paid cash when we needed something - or we did without. I think our economy would be healthier if we did. Nor to mention our pocketbooks.