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Has the recession changed who we are and how we think?
I had a very interesting pillow talk conversation with my husband on Sunday morning. The kids were still sleeping and we both laid there awake, thinking about the same thing.
We just purchased tickets for our family of five to ride the Amtrak train across the country for vacation this spring. After hunting down and comparing deals on flying, driving, and riding the rails, this was the best option for our budget. We're saving hundreds of dollars on our transportation and lodging by traveling by train, plus it's something on our bucket list and it will allow us to give our kids a unique opportunity to see the country.
The round trip tickets cost us $1,111 for all five of us to go from Illinois to Flagstaff, AZ and then to Phoenix by bus. It's a lot for us to spend on a non-necessity and we were both laying there, early Sunday morning, wondering if we were doing the right thing.
A Worry-Free Financial Past
We used to travel a lot more and spend money without worry, even when we were a one income family.
We didn't flinch at buying a new computer or a new car. We weren't afraid of buying furniture 90 days same as cash, or doing a home remodeling project when the inspiration struck.
Now we're a two income family with quite a bit more flexibility in our budget but we were both freaking out about spending a thousand bucks on a family vacation. What's with us?
We're in a better position financially than we've ever been. We paid off over $9,000 in debt in 2011, we have an emergency savings account and we haven't charged a dime on anything in the last year as well.
Post Financial Stress Disorder
The conclusion we came to was that we were both suffering from Post Financial Stress Disorder. It was the closest thing we could think of to sum-up our mindset change.
While what we're feeling is much less than what many people go through after experiencing trauma in their lives, the financial storm we've weathered has still changed how we think.
We spent the last few years, like many other couples in this country and around the world, worried if my husband's job would be okay, struggling through 3 pay cuts and pinching pennies to make ends meet. Seeing our friends lose their jobs, homes in our neighborhood foreclosed, and families having to move far away to acquire work didn't help either.
It was surprising to realize how much we've changed as a couple in just a few years. We went from a couple living with an abundance mindset (albeit a little on the naive end of the spectrum) to feeling like we need to become completely debt free with 6 months of savings in the bank before we can spend money on anything fun.
It's like getting stuck in an endless "save for a rainy day" cycle and completely missing the beautiful bright sun that's shining on us today.
I know once we get going we'll enjoy the trip and be glad that we spent the money. There are only so many family vacations we'll have before our kids are grown and we'll never get this time back.
And I'm thankful that my husband and I are aware of our mindset so we can make an effort to throw a little more fun into our financial plans for the future. My biggest hope is that we haven't passed this scarcity thinking on to the kids too much. I want them to live life with an abundance mindset and dreamer mentality with a little financial wisdom mixed in!
How has the economy changed the way you think and manage your finances? We're talking about it over on Facebook...please come join us!
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