Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to make ends meet, even though Husband makes a comfortable salary. The price of everything is going up and it's really hitting us where it hurts.
Husband has an hour commute and the cost of gas alone is eating us alive. He used to telecommute twice a week, but that was recently cut down to once a week. He works in a field where telecommuting is not only easy, it's supportable. And we live in a city plagued by traffic problems and pollution. Yet...the decision was made not to increase, but to decrease the number of days employees are allowed to telecommute.
This year I spent fully twice what I spent last year on school supplies. Based on what I spent last year, I budgeted $80-$100 for school supplies, which included new backpacks.
They are embarassed by their monogrammed Land's End backpacks. They just aren't cool. When one is thirteen, (and ten going on thirteen) uncoolness is the kiss of death.
I ended up spending $170. One HUNDRED. And seventy dollars.
I was, naturally, aghast and went over and over that list to see where I could have gone so far over budget.
I bought each of the boys one special thing not included on the list. One. Pubescent One got a locker organizer and Diminutive One got a cool locking box for his art supplies. But those two items don't account for a 50% increase in spending.
I bought the store brand of everything that was available. I bought the cheap Rose Art markers, crayons and colored pencils instead of Crayola, and generic glue sticks, even though the list specifically asked for Elmer's. I bought the cheapest calculater they had for Pubescent One, and a crappy $10 flash card instead of the $50 dollar one with lots of storage. I went to two different Staples to get enough of the freebie folders (limit 10 per person).
Fortunately, those mesh sports bags are all the rage here and they were relatively cheap at $15.
And still, I managed to spend an ungodly amount of money.
After fine combing my list, I was forced to face the fact that...crap is just getting that expensive.
I just paid $98 for a pair of tennis shoes folks. I know, that's my consumer stupidity, but honestly, if I don't buy leather shoes for my boys, they are in rags within weeks and I have to replace them twice as often. Cloth just doesn't cut it when you have two boys who don't quit until they lay their heads on their respective pillows at night.
Sometimes buying cheap isn't really the cheaper option.
But honestly, is there a reason that a quality pair of shoes has to cost $98? I know there's not $98 dollars worth of leather in those shoes. And is there a reason that one shoe should cost twice what the another does, simply because it is classified as a men's size?
Youth sizes stop at 7, and Diminutive one has exceeded that threshold now, despite my best efforts to cram his toes into them for just a few more months. So regardless of the fact that the size he wears is just a fraction of an inch larger than the youth size he just outgrew, we are forced to pay double.
I live on South Beach bars. They taste good, they pack a pretty good protein wallop, and they are quick to grab when I'm on the run. They're expensive, about $3.99 for a box of six, but I figure they're the lesser of two evils; fast food being the other alternative.
Yesterday, while driving Diminutive One to school, I grabbed a South Beach bar. I didn't notice that instead of six in the box, there are now five. But I did notice immediately when I opened it, that the bars, which were small to begin with, had been subjected to some kind of shrink ray. Seriously...two bites and it was gone.
I'm not buying them any more just on general principal. I have bought enough South Beach bars in the last three years to build a castle with them, and this is how they repay my brand loyalty?
Do they think I won't notice??? Are we consumers really that gullible? Sadly, yes, I think we are.
Milk. People...do you know how much milk two growing boys consume in a week? I haven't actually done a scientific study, but it's a lot of damn milk. Our cheap store brand milk is now $3.99 a gallon. I'd say that's at LEAST $15 a week in milk alone, probably more if you count what I use in meal preparation.
Yesterday I heard a radio add for a rival grocery store advertising that they are pricing their milk at $3.59 a gallon. That's everyday price, with no store card or coupon.
You know what? Whoop-de-friggin-do. That's still too damn much. And I'm not going to waste time and effort going to two different grocery stores, just to save $.50. Okay, $2.50 total, if you do the math. Perhaps if they were significantly lower on all their items I would simply switch altogether, but they're not.
Too little too late, big supermarket chain that rhymes with Mublix.
I could go on and on; cite example after example. Like I didn't do that already. But you know I could.
Now, admittedly, I could do more to save money at the grocery store.
I HATE cutting coupons. I did it for years when my boys were small and our budget was tight. I hated trying to keep them organized, I hated when they expired and I hadn't used them, I hated clipping them, I hated agonizing over every item that I didn't have a coupon for and feeling guilty if said item somehow found it's way into my cart, I hated hunting for the exact size and variety specified on the coupon, or getting up to the checkout only to find that my coupon was for the 68 oz. ketchup and I was purchasing the 34 oz. ketchup. And I hated the look the cashier would give me when I would hand over my fistful of paper salvation.
They're just such a damn chore and one I have no patience for.
I figured I had paid my dues and when things got a little easier for us, I stopped using them.
I don't shop dollar stores, I don't plan my week around the sales at various grocery outlets, I don't plan meals carefully. I overbuy because like couponing, I loathe grocery shopping and I tend to put it off until we are eating sandwiches made from leftover hot dog buns and fast food ketchup packets.
But honestly...why should I have to do all those things, just to afford fresh, wholesome, nutritious food for my family?
We are paying more, getting less, and risking our safety with every bite we take.
We need to stop outsourcing our food supply America. We need to eat what we grow instead of shipping it overseas. Does this make sense to anyone? That we send our produce overseas and then import more to feed our own people?
No. We need to eat what we grow here. What we raise and kill here. What we manufacture from lips and hooves and high fructose corn syrup, here.
The same goes for goods. It used to be that goods manufactured outside the U.S. were luxuries, extravagances. If it said made in Japan or China, India or Cambodia on it, it was considered foreign and exotic and thus, highly coveted.
Not so anymore. Now if it bears such a label, one can assume it was slapped together in a sweatshop from cheap materials by even cheaper laborers.
Does this strike anyone else as backasswards?
And of course, the cost to us is still as high or higher than it's ever been because of the cost of importing those goods.
I think it's pretty simple. Manufacture and produce locally. It's not a magic solution to cure all our inflation woes, but it's a start.
They should just let me run....everything. I could do it better.
Well I could.