It seems like everyone is trying to cut back a little bit. Some of us are struggling right along with the economy — good jobs are hard to find, and even the jobs we have seem less secure. It seems like the price of everything (except gasoline, for once) is higher than ever. For me, I think the biggest problem is the psychological effect of losing about 1/3 of my retirement account — it’s money I didn’t exactly have access to, but it felt like a good cushion nonetheless. Anyway, I think this year I’ll make the same “spend less, save more” resolution I always make, but it’s going to be more necessary — and maybe even easier — to follow. Why? Because it’s the trend.
One of my friends has just begun “The Less Experiment,” in which she hopes to downsize her life, one object at a time (and she’s started a blog documenting the process — check it out!). She’s trying to get out of debt, and already (three posts in), she has some great insights on how it feels to be a consumer, and then to try to stop thinking like a consumer.
Not quite as extreme, another friend and I are beginning a $150 challenge. The deal is that we’re only going to spend $150 a week on groceries, going out, gas, etc. Anyway, I know some of you think that sounds ridiculously lax, but believe me — it isn’t for us! Already this week I’m spending too much on a daily basis to meet the goal. And I’ve hardly bought anything (some food, a lot of tissue). See:
January 1 (driving back to Denver):
- gas, $15.22
- tissue, $1.50
- coffee, $1.15
- V-8, $1.97
- 2 pc. sushi & miso soup, $8.11
- 12% tip (takeout), $1.00
- orange juice, hot cocoa (for my sister) & bananas, $4.29
- more tissue… $2.15
- pot roast, cumin, cayenne, $9.33
- Cetaphil lotion, $11.84 (this will last several months, but, alas, I am out now!)
- Binder for 2009 bills/receipts/etc., $11.62 (I get one every year, and it helps me stay organized…)
So, while there have been “big-ticket” items such as lotion, a binder, and gas, I’ve spent almost half of my $150 for the week. In two days. Day two isn’t even over yet.
Anyway. I’ve started reading the grocery store circulars again. That roast today was $1.99/lb. And I know how to prepare it now (thanks, Mom). I just need to go to the other grocery store that’s having a sale on beans and tomatoes and pineapple (not for the same dish). And then the other store that has cheap produce as a rule, and I will have some kind of tasty meal in the making (with lots of lovely, freezer-friendly leftovers)…
I am so turning into my grandmother, who would drive an extra mile to a second store to save a dime on milk…
Anyway, I have a tip for today! You should almost never buy a jar of spices, unless you use something really often, and even then, it might be more economical not to. Stores like Whole Foods and Sunflower Market usually have spices in bulk, which doesn’t mean that you have to buy a bulky amount, but that you can buy a teeny tiny amount, and only be charged for what you’ll realistically use. Also, if you live around a grocery store with a lot of Mexican products, you can also save a lot by buying some of your spices in little bags — you probably get half of what you would get in a jar, but it costs about $1-$2 a bag. This works for oregano, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne… etc. I have little jars at home that I funnel them into. I’m not conoisseur enough to comment on the quality; they work just fine for me. Last but not least, I hear The Savory Spice Shop has excellent spices, at excellent prices (I should totally write jingles). Seriously, though — I’ve been in the store before, and it’s pungent (in the best sense of the word). My mom loves it, and I’ll have to check it out again soon.