Thursday, February 12, 2009

Haircuts and economic responsibility

When you host any kind of party, you look around your house and notice things you don't usually see. For example, when you are hosting a gaggle of your mother's sisters, and your cousins, and their kids you think: oh God, they're going to report back to Mom immediately ... that Munchkin's bangs are in her eyes.

So Pynchon readied for the party by elegantly plating snacks for the kids. Me, I cut hair.


What, how do you get ready for a party?

I love cutting hair, actually. In university I cut hair for several of my friends--although, I should admit, I stuck to friends with curly hair. I mean, you've still got to cut it right, but you don't need to do such perfect cuts at the ends when it's a mass of curls. And so I also cut both my nephews' hair as well. They too have big bouffy curly heads. I'm pretty happy with how Munchkin's hair turned out: I gave her kind of a wedge-shag. But surprise: I seem to have cut out her baby curls. So the good news is that she has no hair in her eyes, for which Gramma will be grateful. The bad news is her hair doesn't seem to be curly anymore, for which Gramma will never forgive me. Oh well ...

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I remember after 9/11 being shocked that we were all being asked to go to the mall: if you stop shopping, the terrorists win. How offensive and absurd, to imagine that we can save the world, and right its wrongs, by buying a bed in a bag at Linens and Things. Don't get me wrong: I like to shop. I do not, however, consider this to be a laudable trait. When I talk about 'retail therapy', I am usually rolling my eyes and feeling a bit stupid. I do it anyways, though.

So, as I'm snipping away and Pynchon is wiping up Munchkin's hair from the floor, I joked about how we were saving money in these lean times. How responsible we are! And yet, again, I'm not sure what we're supposed to do. Conflicting newspaper reports either indict us all, we in the middle class, for our 'addiction' to 'easy credit' and our creating the housing bubble by living beyond our means--or they chastise that if we begin now to hoard our money, the downturn will only get worse.

Well. I don't know what the hell to do.

Our jobs are secure, our incomes higher than most. We are very, very fortunate, in many ways. We've stopped using the credit cards, having paid them off, but we're not hoarding. In fact, we've decided to just keep on keeping on with our renos: tonight, the student painting company came by to give us an estimate on interior and exterior work. The supervisor told me how many more job applications they're receiving this year, as the student labour pool for summer is going to exceed the available jobs.

I think this might be the right thing to do for us. Stay out of debt, but spend where we can on what's important. Maybe fewer t-shirts from Old Navy, but maybe more substantive purchases of things that will last. We're watching more carefully where our money goes each month, and that's been very instructive.

What are you doing to deal with the downturn?

Do you want me to cut your hair?

16 comments:

Bea said...

Does this mean you've got a final list of paint colours?

Shelly! said...

Yes, please come cut my hair. I've resorted to cutting the boys' hair(s??) - and let's just say we aren't doing any professional family portraits for a while!

Honestly I struggle with the concept of being frugal but also supporting people who are working. Just this week my husband's company laid off workers and my Mom is pink slipping 1/2 of her teaching pool. It's hard to not pinch my money when I hear these things - at the same time I know that my not spending $30 to cut my hair effects the hairdresser I normally see and her personal economy.

For now we are sticking to what we need. We are paying down our debt so that it isn't hanging over us (downturn or not!). And mostly doing exactly what you are - being conscious of the purchases we make and don't make. And being grateful for what we do have. It's so fickle.

hoppytoddle said...

Well, I've blogged about where we are in all this extensively, & will continue to do so. But, I desperately need a haircut. I tell myself I can't afford one while I somehow justify our recent jaunt to Disney World. (We live in FL; it's not that extravagant.) But still, ridiculous.

Mandy said...

We haven't really done much yet. I've been buying less "stuff" overall, but I think I started that when I went back to work after mat leave and had no time to shop.

Patti said...

In a rather ironic turn, I was just at my hairdresser's yesterday (thanks, I think it looks good too!) and she said that she can't believe how slow things are right now. First time in years.

Last summer, before things got bad, but when they were hinting they might, I decided to try some canning. It saved us money, not because it's so much cheaper to can tomatoes than to buy canned tomatoes - but because we have a huge stock of staples in the house, so we're less likely to eat out.

We also stopped using our credit cards, and watch the bank account more closely.

Omaha Mama said...

Look how long your hair is getting! I cut B's bangs, but take her out a few times a year to get the back done. Her hair is straight and thin, it's too much pressure!

I wish I could say we are saving more or paying of debts more quickly in this current economic climate. I can't. We are maintaining our status quo. Which works for us most of the time...

Kyla said...

Our money is tight, but at the same time we're mostly comfortable. We've settled into a rhythm of what works financially and try to stay in the limits we've set for ourselves.

ewe are here said...

I so need a haircut... and someone to teach me how to cut a girl's hair. And braid. And make pigtails...

We're very careful with our money... I feel you have to do what's best for your family first and then worry about the economy as a whole. And with me not working, we need to have a reserve should G get laid off again.

Mimi said...

there is no need to take your kid to a hairdresser to have their bangs cut for $20 -- do it at home! I always had home haircuts (some of them REALLY bad). It costs me $30 to have a haircut and i wait until it's absolutely necessary.....or i have a date or something :)

Mimi said...

Mimi -- my mom used to put masking tape on my bangs and then try to cut a straight line. DISASTER. And then she had to rip the tape off. I like to think I'm more skilled than that ...

Please notice that my hair needs a bit of attention. Thank god I'm pretty tall and wear heels usually: most people can't see my roots. Ack.

Bon said...

my hair desperately needs cutting. i can't seem to find time to get to the fucking salon by myself. spending cash on babysitters when it's not to WORK just doesn't seem like careful spending.

i used to cut everyone's hair in university too. i got pretty good, could even do a short scissor cut on guys...though i did once kinda fuck up a girlfriend and felt rotten about it for a long time.

as far as the downturn, i'm job hunting...but more feeling as though the world is at least giving lip service to my way of spending rather than actually changing my way of spending. i have a certain contempt of the whole retail therapy "lifestyle" (which is not to say i always spend wisely or am above indulgence) and am kinda happy to see the discourse of it go down the tubes.

Beck said...

We are so broke. We're dealing with it, but it's scary.

Hey, you cut puffy hair? My boy has the world's puffiest hair - if you come to visit, I'll set you to work. I do trim my girls' bangs, because otherwise it would be a constant trip to the hair dressers. I'm not GOOD at it, but they're too young to do much about it.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My husband's take-home is down 45% from last year at this time; he's in sales and his commission for the foreseeable future will be $0. On the other hand I'm working more. So, so. We're doing like you - buying deliberately. it's not time to panic yet.

Jenifer said...

My hairdresser cuts the girls bangs for free, I just find it easier to do it myself at home. Every few months I take them in for an all over trim and in between just do it myself. I bought the hair cutting scissors by Goody and they work pretty good.

My hair on the other hand is in desperate need, Mimi come and help me!

Mad said...

Where I have extra money, I like to spend it on services rather than goods. That way it keeps people employed without promoting unnecessary manufacturing. Or so I kid myself.

kittenpie said...

I always cut Pumpkinpie's hair. It just seems silly to me to spend a bundle to have someone else cut what is really a very basic straight haircut. But then, I grew up with my mom cutting mine, so maybe it's just what I'm used to. Mine, thouhg? Yeah, someone else is taking care of that.

And we are both unionized, so mostly safe,except that of course the city is not in great shape, so if there are sever cutbacks at some time, we neither of us have great seniority. The longer we can hold on, the better, and at some popint, we should be safe entirely. So we are trying to keep spending within our means and putting money in things like house improvments and starting on the multi-year project of a cottage, things that will last. That and dressing our now two children...