My husband and I have always been fairly frugal people. We hardly ever splurge on big ticket items, and whenever we've purchased furniture or large appliances for the house we've done no interest financing. We always keep our credit cards low or at a zero balance etc. But, over the past few years, we have become accustomed to eating out quite a bit, pampering ourselves with Starbucks or a new 6 pack of imported beer (can you guess which one is mine and which on is his?). If we needed new clothes or shoes we just bought them without really thinking much about it, although we hardly ever buy high end brands.
Now that I'm our sole income, the lifestyle we've become accustomed to, while still very frugal, isn't going to work, especially with two more people in the family. We don't have the expendable income that we used to enjoy.
I figure I can look at this new situation from two different perspectives...
I can cry and moan (which I still do on occasion) about not being able to buy the fun things I used to. I can feel sorry for myself and be jealous of those around me who can spend freely (although I think a lot of them are doing so on borrowed money anyway.)
Or, I can consider this an opportunity to be creative...I can choose to see it as a challenge.
It is oddly freeing to not be able to go out and buy whatever your heart desires. It forces you to spend more time at home. We are cooking dinner instead of eating out. I'm clipping coupons and only looking at the things I need to buy when I'm out shopping. I'm looking at the clearance racks for clothes and perusing ebay for deals. (I'm waiting on my first piece of gently used clothing to arrive and hoping that it fits.)
It is very humbling to know that you need to plan and be aware of what you are doing and how you are using your resources. It makes me feel like an adult for the first time in my life, which is both empowering and so scary at times it makes me nauseous. it is forcing me to look at life from a whole new angle, and realize that money really can't make you happy - sure it makes life easier - but not having it really makes you focus on the actual important things in life.
I want our boys to enjoy their childhood, and not feel like they were without things they wanted. I think every parent wants that for their children. When I look back on my childhood, I have a lot of great memories. They are of holidays, of a handmade doll from my Mom, making s'mores in the backyard, running through the sprinkler. And those things are all memories I can give my boys, no matter how much money we have in the bank. I'm trying to remind myself of that as I struggle to adjust to this new chapter of our family life.