Yesterday, while we were at the mall in search of a pair of shoes that would make Mike look less like a hobo and more like an actuary, we passed a store window that was emblazoned with the word “recessionista”. Mike commented that he’d never heard that particular phrase before and that it was cheesy, and while I agreed that it was certainly cheesy, it surprised me a little that it was new to him since it has been showing up quite regularly around the internet these past few months (or, at very least, the estrogen-fuelled parts of the internet) in an attempt to make being thrifty somehow sexy.
I’m not sure if it’s working or not, but regardless of how sexy it is, it’s turning out to be necessary for a lot of people – including us – during these troubled economic times, or whatever the current buzz-phrase is. A lot of the freelance blogs I read have been talking a great deal lately on how to ride out the recession, and whether you should even try riding out the recession, maybe we should all quit the freelancing thing en masse and try to get our old jobs back, except OH MY GOSH OUR OLD JOBS DON’T EXIST ANYMORE AND NOBODY’S HIRING OKAY EVERYONE STAY CALM WE’LL FIGURE THIS OUT TOGETHER. One of the articles I read this morning talked about the fact that we’ve even got new competition in the form of people who have recently found themselves unemployed and who are turning to freelancing to pay the bills. It is tricky navigating this economy when you’re self employed and for some people it seems to be getting trickier all the time.
I remember that when I was in high school and crankily and unenthusiastically working part time at Reitmans (and subsequently Smart Set and Smithbooks), it was very tempting to spend my breaks spending money. I got great discounts at the stores that employed me and, failing that, there was a whole mall to entice me to buy buy buy. I would often come home from work with a new purchase and inevitably my dad would ask me just how many hours I had had to work in order to buy it. I didn’t take to it kindly, because it was somewhat infuriating in the way only your dad can be when you’re a teenager, when his unfailing praticality harshes your impulse-driven shopping mellow.
But, you know, I’m now mature and gracious enough to admit that maybe he was right, and it’s something I’ve become increasingly aware of ever since I started freelancing, since there is now a more direct, obvious correlation between the amount of time I spend working and the amount of income I am earning, rather than before when I would while away the days and would be rewarded for not getting fired by a lump sum deposited in our bank account every two weeks. A number of months ago when gas prices were really high, I had the unfortunate experience of being handed a cheque for an hour’s worth of work, driving immediately to the gas station, filling the tank to the tune of the exact dollar figure written on the cheque, and realizing (begrudgingly) that maybe my dad was onto something.
All of this is to say that Mike and I are trying to be more mindful of exactly what we spend our money on, considering each time whether it’s really worth it, asking questions about whether we really want or need to have cable, whether paying for gym memberships we hardly use is a good idea, whether we can make some extra money by renting out the fat orange cat for snuggle therapy. I’m not really sure whether it is sexy, all things considered, but it certainly is liberating. Or it will be, if we can figure out a way to convince anyone that $99/30 minutes is both a great investment and also an extremely good rate for high-quality snuggling.