Friday, July 3, 2009

Cheap and Proud of It

Just what will the impact of The Recession on our generation be? Experts predict an end to our financial woes sometime this year. This is good news right? This means job security, the stabilization of the housing market, lower gas prices, and no more stay-at-home-vacations! I for one cannot wait for the day when I don't pray that my card won't be declined every time I hand it over to a waiter who knows without asking that "no, I won't be ordering dessert tonight."

We all hate sacrifice. And why shouldn't we? Sacrifice and compromise are things that the majority of our baby boomer parents have made sure we haven't had to consider. We're the tee-ball generation where everybody wins, enough is never enough, and keeping up with the Jones'? Please! They keep up with us!

And yet...I have more than one friend who swoons over Dennis Haysbert in recent AllState commercials when he intones what we have learned this year - namely, (to paraphrase) meatloaf and Jenga can be as good as steak and a set of box seats. Target follows suit with their Brand New Day spot where consumers happily replace their cars with bicycles, their gym memberships with exercise balls, and hold off on family room remodels, opting instead for backyard tents. Likewise, anyone who has been to Starbucks recently will confirm: lines are longer than ever. Interestingly, sales are down. Why? The $4 iced latte has become a $2 iced coffee with milk. I was in Kansas City recently and couldn't help but notice in the bathroom of an old roommate who, although he makes plenty of money, has switched from salon shampoo to a drugstore brand. Hmmm. Wonder if he notices a difference.

So what will happen on this vague day in the future when the cloud of corporate corruption finally lifts, earned raises actually get given, and expendable income begins to live up to its name again? Maybe our newfound frugality will ebb like the intense patriotism that was prevalent in the days following September 11, 2001. Maybe we'll all reinstate our standing appointments at the nail salons, trade in our sensible vehicles for the newest hybrid hummers, and once again congregate with our fabulous friends in rooftop bars sipping $12 cocktails.

Maybe. Or maybe not. I've found that I actually LIKE iced coffee with milk, that my nails don't actually look that bad when I do them myself, and as for the rooftop bar? My friends tend to rave for days about the fun we have when we stay in for "bring your own beer" game nights. Is it possible that the recession might actually be (godforbid) good for the health of our generation, and not just our pocketbooks?

"Your Ad Here" ... and Here ... and Here ... and Here." Driving through Missouri last week, I was accosted with blank billboard after blank billboard advertising... well, advertising. Clearly marketing dollars are being spent elsewhere. Bad for the the billboard business, but good for... the view? Instead of reading about casino buffets and new checking options, I got to concentrate on conversation with my traveling companion and the gorgeous green rolling hills around us. It got me thinking - could this recession actually weed out industries that clutter our landscape and pollute our senses? What would our country (and world) look like if we put more emphasis on "I got it at a thrift shop!" than "He went to Jared." Some places, like Kansas City International Airport are embracing a culture of cheap. Could we come out of this economic landslide and actually live better, fuller, more meaningful lives? Is it possible? Is it likely? Lets say Yes - and make it happen.


Colin said...

Good post, and not just because it featured the beautiful state of Missouri and it's crowning jewel, Kansas City! I think this recession could be good for us but I wonder about those people who sold billboard ads or did your nails or served drinks at rooftop bars or ... etc.

Complex times we live in. At least we're all learning how to be happy healthy well-adjusted and popular!

Megan Michelle said...

Thanks for the comment, Colin. I too, wonder about those ad sellers and nail artists and snooty waiters - but I have to believe that here in the Land of Opportunity we can create enough jobs in enough new industries that once these "polluter" industries have been weeded out, hardworking job seekers will move on to something a bit more meaningful.

Ashley said...

You've brought up a very interesting point! Hopefully these hard economic times will futher fuel the green revolution. I hope that as consumers we'll opt to buy fewer but quality consumer goods - and that companies will start making more of them rather than mass producing cheap disposable goods. We could all do with less stuff. And since I'm all about better nutrition...although I've heard the fast food companies are doing well... I hope this economy also spurs people to cook at home more with whole, less processed ingredients!

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