Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rant; On

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently decided it was time to go back to work after thirteen years at home.

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.

Dandy.

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.

16 Comments:

  • At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Amy said…

    That's a no brainer. Of course you could. I feel your pain. My son is 16. Men's size everything. And looking good is part of feeling good at all ages, but especially in high school. My kid doesn't go for labels or stores, but he does see that something good looks nicer and wears better. That makes me happy, and it makes my wallet ache.

    The amount of food consumed by my son is amazing. And strangely he eats one day...and expects to be fed the next as well!

     
  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger Terri said…

    Oh, I absolutely agree. I stocked up on snacks for the school year and as I was putting them in the shopping cart, I was thinking of ways to ration them out to make them last as long as possible.

    Buying local is something I'm trying to do more of. It's just the running around to the different markets is time and gas consuming. It takes some strategic planning that's for sure.

     
  • At 11:21 AM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    I hear you. I can't imagine where our finances would be right now if I hadn't gone back to work full-time in December. Scary.

     
  • At 1:49 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    I was just telling someone the other day how so very glad I don't have to buy school supplies, shoes & clothes for "back-to-school" children on top of everything else needed for day-to-day living.

    I'm sure I would be working two jobs. Heck, I may have to anyway.


    I hear ya, I feel ya.

     
  • At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Chris said…

    I wouldn't waste my money on that Rose Art garbage. Target recently had Crayola crayons for 20 cents and markers and colored pencils for a buck apiece. Elmers school glue was 20 cents and the sticks were 6 for a dollar. Meanwhile, the roseart supplies will be in the landfill soon.

    Also, I spent a few minutes online shopping for sneakers for my nine-year old son. Fortunately, he's not quite into the adult sizes yet. I found high quality saucony, new balance, nike adidas, etc for very cheap ($55 for two pair--no shippping or tax either) by comparison shopping at famousfootwear and shoes.com. Take a few seconds to google a coupon for an additional 15% off. There are many online shoe size charts to measure shoe size, and both above-mentioned places offer free returns.

    As for the milk, bummer. Here in Rochester, NY it's $2.49. Although we do pay the highest gas prices in the country!

    Finally, as for the hour-long commute, why subject oneself to such misery? Move!

    Where we live, I can walk to the farmers market for fresh produce, baked goods, etc. I can also walk to the mall. The grocery store, doctor's office, etc are all a ten minute drive away. Plus, we live in a nice suburb with the woods in our backyard.

    All I can say is, you have the power to change your circumstances! Ditch those sugary, chemical-laden south beach bars. Why on earth does your son need a cell phone? I'm 38 years old, and I don't have one. Just a thought.

    Good luck!

     
  • At 7:11 PM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    Um, "move"? That's our advice?

    Moving is not exactly cheap, and that assumes you can actually sell your house. Plus, kids are in school and August is a lovely time to start thinking about moving and pulling them out.

    Your son needs a cell phone because he needs to be in touch with you.

    I was thinking of you today when I went to fill my tank and saw prices had dropped to $4.09 a gallon. Maybe the more gas drops, the cheaper food will become.

     
  • At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Chris said…

    Umm, YES, moving is something to consider!!! In fact, our neighbors did just that when the wife got a new job with a long commute. In fact, the average American family moves once every five years. Moving at the beginning of the school year/summertime is WHEN IT MAKES THE MOST SENSE.

    If you know where your child is at all times (especially and as you should with a 13 year -old) a cell phone and text- messaging LUXURIES are definitely not needed.

     
  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    GOsh, aren't you lucky that you have CHRIS to solve all your problems. Just move. Because after all, your husband's job is replacable in podunk, and you really have no reason not to uproot your kids and pay $2000 to hire a mover and another $50,000 in closing costs and the loss you would take on your house in that city where houses sit on the market for years. MOVE. What's wrong with you, anyhow?

    Glad to see I'm not the only one that has asshats responding to posts like this. The cost of living is INSANE now. INSANE. Milk here is $4/gallon too, and we have cut back because we can't afford it. School shopping is something I'm dreading but what I've figured out is that the teachers that demand so much? If you TELL them you can't afford it and therefore will not provide your kid with her petty demands, she'll find some way to have the PTO pay for it. 2 years ago we had a teacher that demanded 7 different BINDERS, 2" each, in various colors. I went ballistic and talked to the principal and and guess what? The demands stepped back a lot. I mean 7 binders for ONE CLASS in middle school. Fuck that teacher!

    I'm with you every step of the way to poverty. It sucks, doesn't it?

     
  • At 8:51 PM, Blogger womaninawindow said…

    Mama Tulip, I love you. This is wonderful. And shame, shame on me for not coming lately. I had you mixed up with someone I only visit once in a while and then when I clicked here I thought, OHHHH, I like her!

    So, here I am, liking you, loving this. Yes, my dear, we are morons.

     
  • At 9:05 PM, Anonymous ame i. said…

    I live in a town between Memphis and Nashville, TN. Our public school system sucks to the 9th degree. I won't specify why, but a quick Google will tell you who/what is in charge of the public school system here in Jackson. I was lucky enough to be zoned for one of the few elementary schools I was comfortable with my daughters attending. All of the public high schools and several of the intermediate schools have onsite police officers.
    My younger daughter has 2 years left in elementary, but I chose to send my 5th grader to private school this year. She is tall for her age, so her uniform shorts/skirts/pants cost $6 more.
    My husband commutes 90 miles each way to work in Memphis. I lived there for 10 years before I had children. I will live on bread sandwiches before I move back to that festering cesspool of despair.

     
  • At 8:23 AM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    I feel you.

    I'm discouraged by how difficult it is to NOT buy things made in China.

    Maybe you should move there.

    Snork.

     
  • At 8:50 AM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    Babe, if anyone knows how often AMericans move and how EXPENSIVE it is, it is me.

    (And, if you tried to move now, I am pretty sure you wouldn't be able to accomplish it by "the start of the school year.")

     
  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger Pgoodness said…

    Hey, let's elect Chris president! Pretty sure he can fix all of our problems within the first few months!And I don't know about the housing markets all over, but in MY area? We CAN'T even move due to the number of foreclosures reducing our property values! We would take a huge loss.

    (my eyes, they are rolling)

    I was just saying yesterday how glad I am that my kids are still little, as I can still get a lot of clothes for not too much money at places like Old Navy & Target. I'm dreading them getting bigger for the cost reasons alone! And food? Well, I think I'd better start a farm out back, because if this keeps up, by the time mine are teenagers, it'll be the only way I can feed them!!

    Oh, and the cell phone thing? None of my business why your son has one! I think at that age it's pretty necessary, and sure mine will have them too, but really? If you bought him one so he could play games all day, who am I to judge? Srsly, people!!

     
  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger NatzG said…

    To all those who said that if you blog, you should expect criticism: Yes, absolutely. But since when did tone and politeness fly out the window? I went back and read Chris' responses and I have to say that the use of capitals is very "in-your-face". In case he/she doesn't know this, capital letters are the net's equivalent of shouting. That is just plain rude. And negates any valid point he/she might have.

     
  • At 3:18 PM, Blogger NatzG said…

    Oops! I commented in the wrong post. Duh! My point is still valid though...

     
  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    My girlfriend told me the other day that Colorado is supposedly one of the better states to live in as far as the current state of our economy. But god, it's bad here. People are calling me every day that are having a hard time paying their bills, looking for ways to make their insurance (or anything!) cheaper. I can't imagine if this is the better state to live in, how bad it is other places.

    I love clipping coupons, though ~ I almost have an orgasm watching my grocery bill plummet when they swipe my Sooper card and then start scanning my coupons. :) I also shop at thrift stores (it's like a treasure hunt and that smell DOES wash out) and eBay.

    I think it would be loverly if we could purchase things locally... especially food. The only down side is that we have labor standards that make the cost to the manufacturer higher... so it would either result in cutting into the big corporation's pocket (*gasp*) or higher prices for us to compensate.

    Personally, I think rather than moving, if I were to give you (or anyone else) unsolicited advice, it would be to vote. If we can get people in our government that would keep tabs on the corporations that produce our goods (especially gas!), we could provide more jobs here and would have to pay much less for what we need and want to buy.

    Anyway, I hope that relief comes... to all of us... someday soon. It feels so tense out there ~ and seems like something's gotta give.

    Sorry for the novella. ;)

     

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