It is true! Businesses are downsizing. Ordinarily wealthy parents are looking for ways to cut back. Families are being wiser with their money. The secrets we reveal in Cheaper by the Baker’s Dozen are being widely adopted. Several families are looking to spend money like the Jeubs have for years.
Wendy and I went on our yearly retreat to Estes Park two weeks ago. To prepare, I stopped at Cost Cutters to get my haircut. Our small talk revealed that Cost Cutters was doing quite well despite the economy. I told the hairdresser about Wendy and my trip to Estes. “Are you staying at the Stanley?” she asked. No, I answered, we’re staying at the YMCA. She was unimpressed.
Really, the YMCA of the Rockies is an incredible place. Mountains surround the facility. In all practicality, Wendy and I could be shacked up in a desert lodge for all we cared. We take this “retreat” to catch up on writing, plan our year’s schedule, talk and pray over each of our children. “I hope you have time to be romantic,” my hairdresser said. She somehow thought Jack Nicholson in The Shining was romantic? (The Stephen King classic was filmed at the Stanley Hotel.)
The YMCA offers a “Pastor’s Getaway” deal, and being that I am the president of a nonprofit organization, I qualify for 2 nights lodging with 6 meals in their cafeteria for only $48/night. I ran into one of the coordinators, someone I have gotten to know as we’ve utilized their facility for events, Arlen the Group Sales Manager.
I asked Arlen if business was slowing down because of the economy. “Surprisingly, no,” he returned. “The phone has been ringing off the hook! Many corporations and nonprofits who usually go to fancy resorts are downgrading to more reasonable accommodations, like ours.”
Let’s face it: the economy is depressing. But why should this be the end of the world? Whatever the state of the economy, those who understand the fundamentals of economics are destined to survive the worst of times. The Stanley thrives when the economy sores, but the YMCA thrives when the economy tanks.
Cost Cutters and the YMCA are experiencing what I call the McDonald’s Effect. Folks are replacing steak houses for the Dollar Menu, salons for Cost Cutters, the Stanley for the YMCA. Likewise, stores like Wal-Mart have posted comfortable profits, while Macy’s-like upper-class stores are tanking. If anything is true about trickle-down economics it is this: when the economy shrinks, the rich start trickling down to more modest living. Frugal thinking replaces loose living.
Given our current political grounding of Keynesian spending to revive the economy (Note: this economic theory has yet to succeed in its nearly-100 years of trying), history is bound to repeat itself and will inevitably bring harder times. The highest unemployment rate in 30 years (hmm, who was president 30 years ago?) should give us pause. Growth is just not happening, and, if history serves as a good example (and it always does), growth will not be coming anytime soon.
But, children still need to be fed and family life must continue.
Life. Human beings are still the backbone of the economy. It isn’t spending–or savings, or gold, or business, or even money. The economy is organically alive with human beings making it run. As long as there are people, there will be ingenuity and invention and ideas. Demand for ingenuity will go up as finances get tighter.
I’m locking in printing costs and facility needs now with the expectation that inflation will hit hard. Nonprofits like Training Minds Ministry will feel the crunch in the coming years. Tough decisions will need to be made to adjust to the coming economic hardships. If we have to tighten up our frugality, this isn’t new for the Jeubs. Wendy and I have always been on the edge of finances, but this has never kept us from walking in confidence with God.
We had some family friends over for an elk and venison barbecue on Sunday. Jeff is a contractor, and though he personally has had business lately, he sees the contracting business getting hit hard. Jeff has nine children. “Yeash,” you may be thinking. “Families like Jeff’s are really going to suffer.”
No, the complete opposite is true. If the economy totally tanked–I mean totally and utterly tanked, complete poverty and turmoil everywhere–Jeff’s family would continue to thrive. He has a small crew of workers, and so do we. Our two families last Sunday night were not only eating like kings with grilled steaks from successful hunts, we had 24 human beings between the two couples. All 24 need to eat, sure, but they all are contributors to the economy of their families.
We Jeubs have responded to economic hard times and have always come out stronger in the end. We produce, we create, and we grow. We don’t take the predictions of doom and gloom seriously, for even if the economy did do as poorly as our leaders say, the Jeubs would thrive just like other families would thrive.