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An After-the-Recession Spending List

Like almost everyone else, I've pulled back on spending around the house. I haven't set foot in a mall since Christmas, and I recycle most catalogs without even looking at them. But my After-the-Recession Spending List is getting longer by the day.

It makes me feel better to plan and prioritize family spending, even if it's going to be a long time before we pull out the checkbook. A vacation involving passports and phrase books? That's a long, long way off, but it stays on the list.

My After-the-Recession list includes things pricey and cheap. Plantation shutters for two rooms will cost more than a few pennies. New shelves in a closet, not much. Paint throughout the house is looking shabby, but it can wait. And forget about saving money by doing it ourselves. My husband and I—along with everyone we know—are working harder at our jobs than ever. Who can afford to blow a weekend on home repairs?

I’m beginning to see that some of my After-the-Recession spending will have to happen soon, despite the economy. The window mullions that are discolored by mildew? They need to be taken care of this spring if I want to avoid damage to the wood. Two slots on the four-slot toaster are still working well, so that can wait, but some bedsheets really need replacing. I wonder if some of that sort of thing was behind the unexpected increase in consumer spending that was just reported for January. That followed six straight months of declines in spending, and was concentrated in food and non-durable goods. Like bedsheets and toasters, perhaps?

I figure that's how the recession will finally end, when people worried about their jobs--but still employed--start spending on things they had been putting off. Car repairs keep getting more expensive as the vehicles age; after a while those great deals being offered on a new Chrysler look like the smarter choice. And if you happen to have the kind of job where layoffs don't happen much, a recession is a fantastic time to get your list accomplished on the cheap. If you have the money, a remodeler has the time.

What's on your list? And what just can't be put off any longer?


By Elizabeth Razzi  |  March 2, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The economy  
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Comments

Argh. Landscaping. We bought our (very old) house in 2004; the deck was nasty and driveway cracked and buckling even then, and the whole place has old, overgrown, old-fashioned landscaping (things like giant boxwoods that smell like cat pee). Problem is, we had a bunch of stuff inside to do first -- like, $200K worth. Now we need to take care of the outside, but there's not a lot of money left, and we would definitely be overimproved for the neighborhood if we sank any more big money in. But on the other hand, I want to get going now -- some stuff is safety stuff that can't be deferred, but beyond that, I'd like to be around long enough to enjoy the plants when they mature.

So what I'd like is a landscape plan that gives us options for the big stuff I really, really want (garage, deck, driveway, outdoor mini-kitchen, etc), but that we can implement over time. Problem is, I don't know anything about this, don't have time/energy to learn, and am very intimidated at how to even get started. Plus, frankly, I suspect even the very basic stuff that has to get done now (like the plan, porch maintenance, and maybe the driveway) will run @ $10K, and it's hard to bring myself to think of actually spending that kind of money right now.

Posted by: laura33 | March 2, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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