For Ann and Alan Terp of Arlington, middle income, middle class, the recession has changed some spending habits and social routines, but it's also provided some unexpected gifts.
Alan Terp's three-year-old consulting business is prospering, says his wife, but still, she's had to economize to find the money to keep one of their two sons in private school. "If A&P has bottom round for $1.25 a pound, I'll buy 25 pounds. If yogurt is 3 for $1, I'll buy five units instead of one.
"Clothes, I buy on sale. Son [John's] pants I buy at a thrift store. I've just begun selling my kids' clothes at consignment stores. I've never done that before."
The family uses the library instead of buying books. "I wanted to buy a gazelle book, but it was $17. The hardback Winnie-the-Pooh was $16." But because of the library's new popularity, "now the best sellers are out constantly."
The Terps entertain at home now, cooking dinner for friends instead of eating out. But that, she says, is not all bad. "Inviting people into our home is actually much nicer than eating out. Breaking bread together, really talking. These are things you always remember, much more than a restaurant meal . . . ."
Terp says the small economies haven't hurt her family. She feels lucky, and more aware than ever of her family's hidden wealth. "I feel we have a lot of inner resources in this family. These times show you how precious a thing that is."