ABC7 On Your Side Report: Spending Time

March 24, 2009 5:58:01 AM PDT
As many Americans cut their spending during this recession, some are enjoying an unexpected luxury. They're spending more time together. Unemployment jumped to 8.1 percent in February, the highest in a quarter century.

Each unemployed person has a story about cutting back, trying to make money go farther. The financial hardship is real.

There may also be some real, deeper connections made as families members turn to one another.

On an unusually warm spring day, what parent wouldn't want to hang out in the park with their kids. Now it seems more parents can.

Pam Crow's employer offered furloughs in January to avoid layoffs. And she took it.

Despite the loss of salary and stuff that it may afford she says this time can't be bought.

"These years are going to go by so fast and he grows so fast. I don't want to miss it," said Crow.

Some families trying to find ways to reduce spending on things, going out to eat and going to movies are finding the answer right at home.

Newlyweds Amanda and David Abuaf had planned on juggling two demanding careers when David finished his MBA at University of Chicago. But few are hiring investment managers now. They've cut back on expenses and pricey activities. Instead, they're together a lot at home and they say it's a luxury.

When we'd go out for dinner and someone called me on my blackberry I had to answer it. Now no one is going to call me on my blackberry. I can devote more time to her," said David Abuaf.

"Even if we're just sitting on the couch watching TV we're really there together one of us isn't distracted," said Amanda Abuaf.

In Evanston, the Frosts - with five children - used to pay for ballet, music and fencing lessons.

Tony Frost is a stay-at-home dad who was prepared to return to full time work last year, but it's been a difficult economy to get commissions for artwork. The family is also stretched financially to afford a new special needs school for one of their sons.

Their cost saving measures at home have led to more time nurturing the kids' creativity.

"He's around. He's fun to hang out with like a personal best friend," said Cesca Frost.

"The upside is spending time with my kids. When I was working I would be home late or leave early?just really couldn't interact with them," said Tony Frost.

In Elmhurst, 22-year-old Nick Serritella thought he'd be on his own now.

Since being laid off from a car dealership, he's living at home with his family, spending the most time with his mother.

Connie Serritella even is showing nick the ropes of her home business. They say it's been an unexpected gift that's forged a new respect.

"Hanging out with my ma, I didn't know that there was that much to do with her business. I was like holy cow," said Nick Serritella.

"It's been able to give us a chance to get to know one another because at this age all you get out of them is hello, goodbye, how are you and that's it. Now we have conversations," said Connie Serritella.

The challenge of balancing work and family may shift in this recession as families find ways to adapt to having less money and rediscovering the value of quality time.

For some the recession is creating memories. As we hopefully dig out of these difficult financial times, some families are finding this was a cherished time to reconnect.