August 31, 2011

Living a Downsized Life or Lowering your expectations, Plus some tips from Amy Dacyczyn

My father was born in 1917. My mother was born in 1930. I was born in 1959. My father was a disabled American veteran from injuries he received serving in World War II. He worked in a factory for 31 years and he earned 2/3’s the wage of an able bodied worker. Still on that low salary he was able to buy a home and fix it up and pay off the mortgage. Our family had one car until we were able to get a second car for only $100. It was a “beater” that my dad took to work so my mom could use the family car when she needed it.

My mom went to work when I was in 9th grade and all of her salary went to put my sister and me through college. Then she quit working once this was accomplished.

My parents were able to fulfill their American dream on a lot less money than most families were earning at that time. The difference is in the kind of house they owned, the type of cars we drove, the clothes we wore and the food we ate.  So, can you still have the same dream now?

The answer is yes but we have to go back to living with the values of the time that my parents’ lived. Both lived through the Depression, World War II and many economic troubling times such as we lived through in the 1970’s with layoffs and strikes.  What does it take? It takes the courage to buck the system and dare to live below our means even when we have all of our debts paid off and we could spend more on stuff.

I believe the American Dream is still alive if we downsize our expectations.

Now some advice from Amy Dacyczyn.

Retail Revelation – Second Hand Clothes for teenagers

When Amy was writing her newsletter she received some letters from readers that said “just wait until you’re kids become teenagers” meaning they would rebel if they had to wear second hand clothes. One day Amy took her daughter to some major department stores so that her daughter could show Amy her “style.” Amy and her daughter were surprised at the selection of clothes and even her daughter was shocked at the prices of the clothing. About the only thing that her daughter saw that she liked were jeans, flared jean skirts and dark colored turtle necks. These three items could be found at garage sales or thrift stores without a problem.

Then Amy took her daughter to the Salvation Army and she found a denim skirt with a little lace at the bottom which her daughter loved. Amy bought it for her. Their thrift shop shopping trip paid off as her daughter saw that the thrift store did have about the same thing that the department stores had. Amy surmised that her daughter felt like she was missing something by not going to stores to look at brand new clothing. Her daughter quickly realized that she wasn’t missing a thing and could find what she liked at a thrift store.

I think that this is a great idea for a teenage girl especially if you give them an allowance for clothing and they can see how much more can be purchased at thrift stores. I have looked through catalogs and gone to department stores to look at the styles and then I have gone to several thrift stores to see if there is a way to replicate the same look. It definitely can be done and I think it is so much more fun to find “retro” clothing or used clothing and make it into a different look.

The key is to downsize your wardrobe and try to make use of several items to mix and match. Thrift shops are also great for finding some neat accessory items.


judy said...

I agree with you 100%. Right now we are buckling down to pay off all of our bills. We are blessed to own our home but are paying off our car and cc's that remain from a previous stage of life.

The American Dream is still here its just changed


Rocky Mountain Homemaker said...

What a great post!
When my daughter was in high school, she had a job, so she could afford to buy new clothing. She had a fairly small wardrobe that looked much, much larger because she accessorized with inexpensive colorful jewelry and scarves. I use the same "tricks" with my thrift store clothing and my wardrobe seems to be much larger!
I agree with you that expectations are so high. I see it especially in the area of activities for children. My son has decided not to be a Cub Scout this year and we have come up with a great alternative. He can spend time with his dad in the garage this winter, learning to use powertools for woodworking and even learning to change the oil in our vehicles (which are older and used!)
Bless you today..........Denise

Theresa said...

Great story. So sad that your father was paid less because of a disability. Glad things have changed in that aspect.

Love your blog.

Rose said...

My parents were born about the same as both of yours, they were 11 years apart. One thing they always told us was to never buy the cheapest, never buy the most expensive, but try to afford to buy the middle of the road, whether it was a washer and dryer, clothing, cars, tools, etc. This has served me well.

Also, they were very frugal even though they could afford more. They never kept up with the Jones' or were pretentious. Mom made us clothes and taught me to look at seams and quality when buying clothes off the rack. I think seeing this as a lifestyle when we weren't poor has carried me well. Especially when we have struggled financially with low pay or a one earner household.