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 porch...to 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?