What Happened to the American Dream?


I know this is a tough question many American families are facing.  Bills are getting tight, the cost of everyday living is only increasing, salaries are either frozen – decreasing – or you’re getting a pink slip.  On top of that, you still have the everyday tasks of maintaining your house, trying to keep your family happy and keeping a positive attitude.  HOW do you get through these tough times?  Here’s some suggestions….
Remember the days when you used to go to your Grandmother’s house and eating out only happened on a momentuous occassion?  Everything she bought came in a glass jar or paper bag.  She didn’t worry about the Bisphenol-A (BPA)in the plastics she was buying because she only stored things in glass.  The farthest thing she had to worry about was whether the bottle she was using to feed her child contained harmful contaminants/chemicals that could hinder the development of that child.  Afterall, she didn’t need a bottle…she breastfed.  Life was more simple, easier if you will.  I think we need to try to go back to the times of our Grandparents & parents, sure, some things took a little longer, but the time it took to do things like baking or planting a vegetable garden were things they did as they created memories with you by helping them do it.  Part of the problem with today’s society is that everything is fast paced, technology driven and the saying “patience is a virtue” has been completely neglected.
Cooking our homegrown tomatoes to make sauce
Back in those days, there were less learning disabilities, food allergies, attention disorders, divorces and so on.  You could expect a routine, which so many of us, in this fast paced world have completely thrown out the window.  Now we run from job to job, pick up kids, bring them to an event, bring home take out, don’t have a ton of time to clean because we get on the computer as soon as they kids are in bed and do the same thing the very next day!  Are we EVER taking the time to truly STOP and smell the roses?  Our debt increases because A. we are tired after our overly stressful jobs and rather than take that precious time to make a home cooked meal, where we know every ingredient that is going into our families beautiful little mouths we bring home take out. B.  The take out, like gas and everything else is costly because businesses are just trying to stay alive so we spend on average $40-$50 for a family of 4 to get a meal out.  We got breakfast for the 4 of us the other day and it was $40!!  FOR EGGS?  C.  We feel bad we don’t have time to spend with our families so we over indulge when we do and take an overpriced field trip to a train museum, the movies, or whatever we can do to get away from the house and not work.
Why is home not the retreat and santuary it used to be?  Because the bills are piling up, we don’t have time to clean the house, we fight over chores when we are home because we are just plain tired, and it isn’t the environment we want to create those happy memories.  Does ANY of this sound familiar?
My suggestions are to take some time to re-evaluate life. Look at the person you married and ask yourself, are they still my best friend?  FOCUS on what is important.  Children don’t care about money. They care about a happy home.  As much as they might protest, they love routine.  Take the time to celebrate your accomplishments.  On the anniversary of when my husband and I bought our house, we bring out the champagne flutes from our wedding and toast to our successes that year in our family life.  No matter how messy the house may be at the time.  We take the time to be grateful, something most of us have forgotten.  We don’t care if our house isn’t perfect.  We do care if our house is a HOME.   The place your children feel most safe.  The place some of your best memories are made.  AND the place you should feel most proud of.

The first summer harvest!
If things are getting tight with your mortgage payment, bills, stress in your marriage or you see a noticeable difference in your children’s behavior, why not take the time to stop, smell the roses and re-evaluate?  There are always ways to save money, all you have to do is look.  Stop buying the Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks coffee every morning and you will be amazed at how much you can save.  Check out David Bach’s “Latte Factor.”  Listen, I’m not perfect and enjoy an amazing cup of coffee like the next girl, but if it came down to my budget & my families’ happpiness, I would NOT feel like I was missing out because I wasn’t able to buy that cup of coffee.
Our end of June tomato plants grown by our family
If you are looking to reach the American Dream and purchase your first home, start making those concessions now.  It’ll make it that much sweeter when you make it happen.  Go back to a simpler time, make fun planting a garden with your kids, corny as it might sound, my kids wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  They know they have your undivided attention and maybe you could actually teach them a thing or two about their environment, healthy eating, and a sustainable life NOT overrun by chemical by-products.  Everything is a learning experience.
I am the eternal optimist, and just like my parents always used to tell us, “you can do anything you want to do and be anyone you want to be.”  Now all you need to do is take the time to make yourself, your goals and your family a priority.  You are a team. The money and things don’t matter, you can’t take them with you when you go.  If re-evaluating means down-sizing your house to make a better financial decision in order to do what really matters, than swallow your pride.  Your child doesn’t care how big their house is and what they have in it.  AND, if they do, then you really need to re-evaluate, things don’t matter, people and memories do.  Your family would much rather have you with them than over working yourself to “provide” for them.  Their wants and needs are minimal if they have you.
Jessica Starr, Starr Realty Group, Keller Williams Realty


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