Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making do When the Money Gets Tight

It has been well documented that the price of just about everything is going up. We can see, plain as day, the prices at the gas pump tipping the $4.00 per gallon mark.
I was extremely pleased to fill up for a mere $3.89 per gallon yesterday. Why, it only cost $52. to fill the tank! All of the other stations in our area are in the $3.95 - $3.99 range so this one will likely get there soon.

This has to translate to the stores. It is translating to many things we purchase regularly. We, in the States, do not yet have it as rough as the Europeans who are running out of meat and fish while the truck drivers protest the exceedingly high costs of fuel. Who can blame them, really. It would be frustrating to see your paycheck cut in half through no fault of your own. However, I was very saddened to read that there have been two deaths in this protest.

So, what can we do to protect our families from the rising costs?
First, it helps to know what you normally spend so that you can document your savings. Take a look back through the checkbook at your last few moths regular expenditures. Now, you'll be able to plan a cut-back in spending...not a cut-back in fun!

Get your whole family involved and plan ahead:

Do you have young children that love McDonalds or Burger King? Make a chart with them that shows what you usually spend on fast food...Make a game out of marking on the chart each time you don't stop when normally you would have and plan a
one-on-one time with them reward for a certain dollar amount saved. They will jump at the chance to do something special with just you!

Our other money saver is to skip the fries and just use the dollar menu. We can feed five of us very inexpensively if we do this. McDonalds even has sweet tea on the dollar menu. Three dollars/items per person. It is plenty!

What are the pantry items that you cannot live without?

Make a list. Watch the sale flyers. These items will likely be that thing that the store uses to get you in the door at some point. When this happens make the most of it. I will often pick up several of something on sale to tuck away for future use. It has long been a habit at Hospitality Lane. Better yet, if I can get my coupons and sales prices to match I am as excited as that Lancaster County hunter who just bagged a 10 point buck! I love to bargain hunt!

This is the time to save more money! I know you are thinking I am nuts! How? Pay yourself first! Every time a paycheck comes through your door or into your account, immediately take as much as you reasonably can and mark it for savings. Incomes are not likely to go up much in these slow times, but costs will. You'll be able to ride through it with relative ease if you have a buffer.

Plan your trips around town well. If I have to drive up to Lancaster, I am now thinking ahead of things to do while I am there to save myself another trip. Yesterday we did six separate errands all in one trip and because we had done some research before we left actually saved $30 on something we needed. It is not hard but it will require some of your time. The time that you are not spending in the car on multiple trips.

Now that you have higher expenses and less disposable income, what will you do for fun? Visit a National Park. Almost everyone has a free National Park within easy driving distance. Pull out the Frisbee, play some boccie ball, read a great book.

Or, you could have some friends over and enjoy a spirited conversation on the economy or the political climate. This is an excellent time for us to return to a time that we often wish aloud we had lived in. It is simpler...less stressful...a time to sit on a get to know the neighbors. A time to pick up a baseball and a bat. A time to dust off that old video cassette of ET and invite some friends for a movie night at your house with buttery popcorn fresh from your own stove or microwave. Maybe you love Laurel and Hardy?

A time to hang our clothes on the line. A time to be quaint and carry our own grocery bags to the store...or...I love the thought of taking my market basket to the Farmer's Market this weekend. Lets turn it into an adventure and an opportunity to teach our young about a simpler time.

For clothes, don't be afraid to shop the consignment stores or Goodwill. We have excellent success at yard sales. Just make sure you set a budget for yourself before you go. These things can really get expensive if you do not have a pre-set limit.

I believe that we can cut our spending by 20 - 25% if we make a conscious effort.
How about you?
What are you doing to beat the rising costs?


Mrs. Rabe said...

We definately are not running around so much. We're not eating out so much. We combine errands as well.

I am thankful that we have never been "big spend" family. However it takes nearly $90.00 to fill the van. It used to take half that and a few years ago it only took $25! That is a lot less disposable cash.

We also are growing a small garden this year. It is a time to get our feet wet on vegetable gardening. I figure most people used to do it, we can do it. God does most of the work anyway!

lady jane said...

I've reduced my 'driving days' down to 2 and they're both in-town. Our gas is up to $4.59 for regular so conserving is paramount, especially when one drives a larger vehicle.

About larger vehicles...Once in a while I get hassled about driving a Suburban. I'd love to know of a vehicle that can fit my 6'6" husband..comfortably..and can pull our trailer which may very well become our home if things get really horrible in this world.

I've been carefully adding to our pantry and will begin making our bread rather than buying it. Pennies on the dollar for the bread.

We're reducing the contents of our home too. Rocky prefers to not have a garage sale so much of it will be donated to Goodwill or a similar organization. The "special" things...shabby chic, primitive, other nice things...I'd like to sell by hosting a 'tag sale' of sorts in my backyard.

We're not big into television and as such don't have satellite tv or cable, etc. gasp! We get our news online, from trusted resources rather than news shows with a 'decided slant/agenda'. When February 2009 rolls around we won't be buying that dvr thingamabobjiggy that will ensure you can use your tv. We'll be using our tv for movies...exclusively.

I'm trying to use up what we have rather than buy new things....most of the time. There are those HomeGoods visits though... :o)

Wow. An epic message. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

We only eat out once now. No Friday after the ballgame Pizza.

We do BBQ a lot that helps with the oven and stove.

Becky how about you make a list of pantry staples we should have and then we could add to this. Then we can make sure we are well stocked!! What do you think???

Becky K. said...

I will work on that list. Immediately I think of noodles, laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper and spaghetti sauce.

That is off the top of my newly blonde highlighted head. Yikes! You should see me! The stylist insulted me into it by telling me I was mousy and blah! She said I needed some spice in my life! I fell for it...hook, line and sinker! At least I didn't let her near my eyebrows. She wanted a go at them too.

Oh well,

Alicia said...

Hi Becky! Lately we havent been eating out much. I love the dollar menus, we arent the McDonalds type but we do do the dollar menu at El Pollo Loco. Usually if we eat out, my parents take us, which is always on them, cant pursuade them to let us pay. Also, my hubby and I will go for walks and just chat with one another...costs no money! I also walk to my work which is right down the street! Lots of ways to save and remembering and trusting that God will provide all of our needs, not our wants.

Tracy said...

Very nicely, timely post, Becky. It is crazy what is happening over here in Europe due to the high cost of is really sad. And hard. We try to drive the car as little as possible! Luckily we live near intown, and can walk to many places. We've not bought meat in over two months as it costs so much. Chicken has been about $15 for a packet of 4 boneles, skinless breasts. I don't eat meat, but my husband does. But no meat for the moment--he eats beans, grains and dairy along with me! We are trying to find little ways to save as much as we can. No eating out, no "little extras" while shopping--stick the to list and that's it. Unfortunately we have a tv license fee we have to pay annually to watch tv here in Norway. It's the same in other European countries too. Yes, we have to pay to just have the box in the living room! We think of it like supporting PBS in a way. Still, it's almost as expensive as having cable tv (which you have to pay in addition to have the regular tv here) I say give up tv for a year and see how it goes. Hubby is reluctant to be entirely tv-free though...LOL! The save, and make do & mend philosophy is happening here to. Best of luck to us all. Happy Days, Becky. Loved seeing your church--it looks great!--and news update posts. ((HUGS)) Oh, stop by when you can, I'm having a little gift giveaway :o)