It can happen to you

23 Sep

You’re the CEO of a major corporation — complete with an executive suite that has the most awesome view of the city skyline. When you venture to the “little people’s” work areas, all tremble with fear.

You drive back to your mansion in a gated community in a Bentley. The average American’s salary? You spend more than that on golf.

Perhaps you’re the other extreme.

You slave over a greasy vat of fires or a grill for 12 hours a day, often on weekends and holidays. Angry customers scream profanity at you because they believe the chicken nuggets aren’t fresh enough.

You drive back to your parents’ mobile home in the 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme your grandmother sold you for $100. Your stereo system is the boombox on your torn-up passenger seat. The 200,000-mile car burns more oil than gas.

No matter what your situation may be, you could have it all fall to hell practically overnight now. Everything you have worked yourself to death to have, all your dreams for what you want to have — GONE.

Even if you haven’t found yourself losing everything, you’re probably wondering if or WHEN it will happen to you or someone you love. You’re probably one of the several people working for less money, taking pay cuts or being required to take unpaid furloughs. I have personally had to take 10 unpaid days off this year, as did everyone else in my company — management included.

Aside from the people who were raised by French nannies and have trust funds, I’m sure it’s safe to say we’ve all been down-and-out before. The difference, now, is that more — the ones who never thought they would be one of “those people” — are falling into pits of despair with everyone else.

Do you find that hard to believe? Check out this story about a man making a six-figure salary at a hedge fund who found himself delivering pizzas for $7.29 an hour. At least he was able to get some kind of job after he hit the skids.

* * *

So, we’re in a situation that seems hopeless, with no foreseeable end. But here’s the thing: No matter how long this lasts, we have to survive it somehow.

When the smart people are down, the smart people get creative. Sometimes, they even manage to have a little fun with it.

I will tell you now that living in poverty is hell that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. Well, OK, maybe there are some… (Kidding!) But if we were meant to crawl into a cave and die after it wacks us on the skull like a brick, we’d just keel over in the office parking lot after taking the “walk of shame”.

Good news: There ARE ways you can survive. Yes, there will be days you will want to pull your hair by the roots, and you will probably have to scale back your lifestyle by a mile.

But the trick, my friends, is being crafty. Living the flat broke lifestyle has taught me endless tricks to make life not only bearable, but even enjoyable. It just takes some serious effort.

My most memorable Christmas to date was the year my best friend and I set one-dollar budgets for the gifts we bought each other. Just a few months ago, I bought a Fossil purse for $12.

This week, I saved $11.25 on groceries by having one of those little discount cards and by waiting on a major, major sale. Last weekend, I also bought the second season of “30 Rock” for $25 instead of this particular store’s normal $40.

If poverty survival could be equated with wilderness survival, I could ward off grizzly bears with a stick. But do I have all the answers? Of course not. I’m not going to pretend I do. Please, do share your own survival tips! I could use all I can get, myself!

Regardless of who on Wall Street or Washington you want to blame, we’re all living in one hellacious economy. I believe that’s something on which we can all agree.

So, how about putting aside any differences we have and working to survive this together? It’ll be a wild ride, but let’s not embark on that rough journey alone.


3 Responses to “It can happen to you”

  1. Amanda September 23, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    It’s cool to be “cheap” these days, which is especially great for me, the girl who was laughed at for clipping coupons all those years. You can have the same life with far less money by just being creative, like you said. Deals are our there, you just have to look for them. My hubby and I spent $30 on one of those discount books and save 10 times that much. We spend Friday evenings watching DVR shows instead of going to the movies, take advantage of BOGOs at Publix and stock up our pantry. People who say they can’t cut corners aren’t trying. Great post!

  2. Marie September 23, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    WHOOO-HOOOO!!! Blog on line!!! Congrats. It looks great and the article was fantastic! I will be back.

  3. yvonne September 24, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    You have inspired me today! Keep up the good work.

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