We have never been well off people, my husband makes close to basic wage and I have worked part-time or casual ever since having children but with our two modest incomes, some financial savvy and the government help which is given to families, I felt that we were rich. We could afford to buy whatever we needed without having to think about it, there was always something in the bank, we had a holiday now and again and I felt rich because we had problem solving money. If the fridge or the car broke down or there was a school trip or someone needed shoes, we could afford to sort it out, even if it was a bit painful to the bank balance.
In earlier days I would take the kids with me to do the grocery shopping on a Saturday morning and once the chores were done we would stop in at a cafe. Morning tea at a cafe with the kids was the height of luxury to me! The sitting in a booth, the uninterrupted time to chat and laugh, the table service.....I would have a coffee and the kids were allowed to choose a drink or cake. If I felt particularly well off, I might order a plate of poffertjies (tiny Dutch pancakes) to share. After that, I would often choose a cheap bunch of flowers to take home, the florist just across from the cafe always had bunches of a single flower and I felt it a huge luxury to buy a $5 bunch of jonquils or a $6 bunch of gerberas. I would enjoy them all week.
There were a couple of times I would drop $30 or $40 on a professional birthday cake and though it felt expensive, I was just happy to bring home a treat.
There were a couple of times I took the kids to the theatre. I took my boys to the final tour of Dame Edna and I took the girls to Mary Poppins for their 13th birthday. Buying three theatre tickets was always a luxury.
When Keaghan turned 18 I wanted to buy him tickets to the David Attenborough live show. I had missed the original ticket release because I didn't know the show was on so I ended up paying nearly double to buy from a
These days things are a lot tighter, my regular work dried up and though I love doula-ing, it isn't a reliable source of income but more of a feast or famine affair. The government help is no longer, now that the kids are out of school. My luxuries now are much smaller and mostly provided by my children: a new smart phone, a weekly coffee date (no cakes most times) a rare take away meal.
When I go to the fruit market, I will usually buy a whole box of some luxurious seasonal fruit. Last week it was a whole tray of figs, the week before it was 12 punnets (a tray) of raspberries, a few weeks before that it was mangoes or cherries. Buying fruit this way is cheap by the kilo but you tend to get more than is sensible so we get to gorge on the luxury of the season.
I notice that as long as there is something I can regard as a treat, I don't miss the more expensive things we used to do. It's only when there are no treats at all that I start to really resonate with the term "grinding poverty"