Taking things for granted

As a child growing up through the 1970’s recession, there were many hard times and there were certainly no luxuries. It was a big deal for the parents to throw you a 21st birthday party and I remember how hard it was for my Dad to get 200 pounds together to pay for my party. But I never remember wanting for anything nor feeling I was missing out on things. We were always taught, when you’re earning yourself, you can buy it.
 I was a young mother, so I could never really save much of my earned cash from then on as the child’s needs came first. My only wish was to go on holiday every year. I loved going away to the sun and I would happily save for that, year in and year out.
My first big purchase was in 1990 when I bought a house down the road from my mam. It was a small price of 18,000 pounds and I was quite able to get together the deposit fee of 1800 pounds. The interest rate at the time was 18% and my repayments were 300 pounds per month. I had been paying 185 pounds per month for an apartment, so it wasn’t much more in the difference. That was only 27 years ago and in comparison, today, a young couple must save 30,000 euros for their first deposit which is very hard to accomplish.
The house was in a very old state and needed lots of work to modernise it and yet I still remember being satisfied at it’s basic state. My wants were very realistic. And I had no problem getting my hands dirty in cleaning it up and making it livable in. I think again, that coming from a very modest background, I was very grounded.
I considered myself quite fortunate to be able to get on the property ladder.
I didn’t drive at the time as I lived in Dublin city within walking distance of everything so that was less expense.
I remember living within my means. I didn’t look at expensive furniture or toys or clothes. One of my favourite purchases was a beautiful three, two, one suite, that I bought from my boss at the time for 200 pounds. It was of really good quality and I reckon he and his wife had done me a very kind gesture and I was very grateful.
And then that all changed in 2002 when all of a sudden we were in a position to move to a bigger house. And then we could get the nice car and go on nicer holidays and it’s amazing how in such a short time, you become used to getting things when you want them and you start taking things for granted.
Everything was replaceable, it wasn’t a big deal reversing your car into anything, sure it was easily fixed and sure you’d be trading it in next year anyway. And I don’t think I realised that I might have begun to appear spoiled to others around me, by having new things very quickly. But what I was really doing was making things very difficult for myself in the future if anything were to go wrong.
And then the recession hit America in 2007 and we all knew it was on the way here. It hit us like a force ten hurricane in 2009. It came in fast and destroyed very quickly.
Nobody likes bad things happening to them but there are always lessons to be learned. I certainly became more frugal. There was no old food going in my bin. I became a wiser grocery shopper. Clothes were better cared for. I stayed with the same old car, it did the job just fine.
I realised the value of your life is more important
So now, in the final months of 2017, I let myself get a new car. I was very reluctant, least of all, going into payments again, but it was a real case of need.
 I spent the whole of the Summer in and out of garages with one or other of our jeeps with various engine problems and I spent many times broken down on back roads with steam billowing from the bonnet of our Toyota Cruiser! At fifty, I had decided to shave my hair close to my scalp so now I had the look of a crazy woman dressed in pink gym gear, (Just in case I had an opportunity between horse shows to jog my hyper huskies ten miles or so!) I’m trying to hold back the forty stone dogs from legging it whilst unhitching the horse box in fear of the jeep blowing up and the pony being burned to death. All that and trying to be Mother of the year by not strangling my twelve year old daughter to quieten her hysterical crying!
 Or sometimes I just couldn’t turn off the engine of our range Rover for fear of it not starting up again, because of an alternator  problem, so I would just put it into park and go off about my errands. And I can honestly tell you that there are many, many honest people in the world and one of which who kindly watched over my running jeep while I went into the Dublin Horse Show to watch ‘The Aga Khan’, I kid you not.
I couldn’t lock it either, because if I did, that 2007 was impossible to get into if the battery died. Every Auto Assist has tried in vain. The only way is to break the window and after three times doing that, we finally got a lock smith. Yeh, we don’t rush into things….
So finally last Saturday after a day driving around in the Range Rover pulling the horse box to killossory for my daughter’s dressage test and show-jumping and then going to see my Mother in Dublin and all the while leaving the engine running and again, very honest people in Dublin, or else nobody was interested in taking it on!
 I gave in. I went and looked for a new car.
And I love it. It’s new and shiny and trendy and everything works in it!!
And I’m very appreciative of it. I know how lucky I am and I certainly won’t be taking things for granted anymore.
Jean xxxx

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