Friday, September 9, 2011

Down(sizing) but not out

Let's set the scene: It's September, close to the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The stock markets are tragic, Europe is a basketcase, the UK is looting itself, Obama can't get congress to wipe their bottoms and Julia Gillard's personal life is the subject of TV satire. The Aussie dollar, banana prices and drive-by shootings are up while interest rates and morale are low. My highly qualified, high flying husband has been on 'gardening leave' (aka 'out of work') for about 3 months. I am still a full-time mum hoping like hell not to go back to paid work yet. My daughters are enrolled in a lovely non-denominational/co-educational/private school and I would like it to stay that way. It's wet and gloomy outside. And today said husband is out negotiating with snake oil dealers, flogging off the family silver (car that is)!

Welcome to down-sizing 2011 style. With great foresight we had long ago moved from the large suburban home to the smaller, more practical apartment. With no job in the city to drive to, the expensive car space and second car had to go obviously. The collection of strangely shaped gold coins and other Perth Mint specials have been sold off while gold is riding high. Stocks that survived various crashes were also liquidated. So with some cash reserves, shrewd investments and no mortgage we're in good shape for a while hopefully. But as I eye the budget spreadsheet my financially savvy hubby waves in front of me there is one item that makes me hold my breath....

I can understand we won't really need before/after school care, those extra kid's activities or annual overseas holidays. I can live with eating out less and buying cheaper cuts of meat. My kids will survive eating fruit that's in season (although bananas must be purchased at any cost apparently). They will also not mind seeing less musicals/plays/puppet shows and more of mum and dad.

But there is one 'luxury' that will be last on the financial chopping block: I swear I will eat 2-minute noodles for a year before I damn well let the cleaner go!!

Call me crazy but only other clean freaks can understand the pure joy of entering a professionally cleaned abode. Those sparkling tiles are worth a thousand nights in front of the TV, the gleaming kitchen a fair swap for any 3-hat restaurant meal, the polished floors more valuable than a designer handbag. Who needs new boots when the carpets are immaculate or theatre tickets when the bedroom has been primped and primed to perfection?

And I am not alone...I mentioned this rebellion against prudence to my between-gigs-actor-friend who looked at me with huge, swelling eyes. She had recently sacrificed her cleaner and was in the throes of down-sizers remorse. "What have we done? How will I cope?" she pined. "There, there, it will be all be ok" I said, not quite sure of the truth of my assurance. "I can always hire a cheaper cleaner...or maybe they can come less often...?" she reasoned hopefully. Of course dear, of course. Just because we're poor doesn't mean we have to live like savages after all!


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