Feeling the "downturn" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, we've typically been what I think of as "middle class", hsb. w/ his own buisness, me SAHM, housewith a decent mortgage, not too many frills, but doing OK. Is it just me, or is this quality of life slipping for others as well? I have to really look at the $$$, but I am starting to feel a bit anxious about things. the shift is subtle, but it's there. I find myself rationing my driving days, being extremely careful at the grocery store, and we've been giving the woodstove a workout the past two weeks rather than buy oil-this has been fine actually, as i am home all day to keep the stove burning. I guess the biggest feeling is that of feeling like all around me, other families I thought did well, or even better than us, are secretly struggling. I guess this is the first time a downturn in the economy, if one can say that, has really hit home like this. Just wondered if others are feeling it too?
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#2 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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Are you feeling it because of actual changes to your situation, or are you feeling it because it is all over the news? I was thinking about it today - and the only thing that has changed for me is higher gas prices. My home is not being forclosed, my business has not slowed down, I am not poorer all of a sudden.

Sometimes [note that I said sometimes, so if your home is being foreclosed, this is not to say that you are imagining it] I think the news causes the behaviors, rather than the other way around.
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#3 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:01 PM
 
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I'm with you OP. I have watched prices climb for the past few years on darn nearly everything around me yet we didn't make more money and had a few kids.
Each year, food gets more expensive. Bread used to be 3.49, them 3.89, now 4.29. Just one example.
Gas where I live is 3.39.

My friend and I were just talking about how we used to get 2 bags of groceries and spend about 60$ and now it's at least $75-$100.

I don't watch the news so I haven't been exposed to what the PP is talking about.
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#4 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:19 PM
 
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I shop at TJ's and the prices there are rising. In just a 4 month period the pasta went from $0.69 to $0.79 to $0.89. The sourdough bread went from $1.99 to $2.29 to $2.69. I can't believe how the prices are jumping up. Gas here is around $3.59 a gal for 87 so I try not to drive more than I have to. We live on such a tight budget. I often wonder how much credit card debt the average American has racked up? We are trying to pay off our credit card debt. Just last week we paid off our small one and now I am hopeful to get the big one paid down. A lot of the credit card debt is from before I put us on a tight budget. Most people I know are using their credit cards too much. So we are definitely feeling the downturn.
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#5 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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We're feeling it here in WI and it's definitely an increase in prices. We've seen increases in electricity, natural gas, city water, taxes, gasoline, groceries, sundries/misc household expenses, home improvement items/building supplies, etc.

A big hit for us this year was an increase in healthcare premiums and co-pays that took nearly all of DH's annual pay raise. That left us with essentially no increase and yet expenses keep going up because prices do.

We've been watching the budget carefully and eliminated one car to give us some more breathing room. I hate to cut out the little bit of entertainment and eating out we do have.
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#6 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Are you feeling it because of actual changes to your situation, or are you feeling it because it is all over the news? I was thinking about it today - and the only thing that has changed for me is higher gas prices. My home is not being forclosed, my business has not slowed down, I am not poorer all of a sudden.

Sometimes [note that I said sometimes, so if your home is being foreclosed, this is not to say that you are imagining it] I think the news causes the behaviors, rather than the other way around.
I think this too. For us, we are noticing price increases, but it has not yet affected us (I don't do zero dollar budgeting or whatever it's called - just sock away into savings whatever is left, however much it is, after contributing to 401k and other savings, etc). I did have a moment the other day when I had to pay 3.69 per gallon for gas.... but we fill up every 2-4 weeks so it is not going to seriously affect us. The one key thing is groceries. I spend so much more on food. Food prices are really rising.

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#7 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:33 PM
 
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We are really starting to feel it around our household too. Just this week my hours were cut in half at work due to the "economic conditions". All the while the prices of things like food and gas are going up the whazoo.

Jenna in love with my DH Jon, loving our 2.5 year old, Caroline Tulip, and expecting another little one in August!
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#8 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 07:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crayolaab View Post
I think this too. For us, we are noticing price increases, but it has not yet affected us (I don't do zero dollar budgeting or whatever it's called - just sock away into savings whatever is left, however much it is, after contributing to 401k and other savings, etc). I did have a moment the other day when I had to pay 3.69 per gallon for gas.... but we fill up every 2-4 weeks so it is not going to seriously affect us. The one key thing is groceries. I spend so much more on food. Food prices are really rising.
eek. My gas is $3.18. I guess my food shopping varies every week, so I don't notice.
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#9 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 08:19 PM
 
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I guess I'm in the minority, while yes I do see some things going up higher and higher, my DH has a better job than ever, and we have always been broke, so as he says we're "good" at it. Well we're really not that broke, but we have to live a pretty mellow lifestyle, we live in an area that has always been this way. What is lame for us is that where we live has been taken over by vacation homes that are worth millions(not all, but many) so it drives up our taxes and land prices. It is hard to live where we do, but if you find your niche you can pull it. Gas here is expensive, like 3.59 a gallon and I live 10 miles from the closest town, so needless to say I don't go anywhere very much. I am a deal shopper, and have been for years. I have noticed things are going up, I have chosen to start making more of my own stuff.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#10 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 08:26 PM
 
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I'm feeling it, but I know it's my own fault

We bought a new house last year before the real estate market tanked. We have a much bigger mortgage payment, so I do feel the pinch. Like you, OP, the changes seem subtle. I see little changes in prices here and there. And I also know of friends and relatives that are struggling, so that affects my feelings about the economy as well.

Mostly, I think that I'm okay. But I also realize that things could get worse and I'm trying to make good financial decisions because I realize that we're just one job loss away from disaster.

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#11 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 09:20 PM
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Yes, I feel it. I am in health care HC) and I see fewer jobs in health care IT than before and my friends are saying job offers amounts are decreasing.

Now if this is happening in HC, then I get worried.

My husband has a contract job and we are hoping it will outlast this bad economy.

Good luck mamas!
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#12 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 09:23 PM
 
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I feel it filling up gas, or when my chiro appologizes for his costs...wow..
I realise that people just can't afford stuff (his prices haven't changed in years and I have some coverage with 2 seperate plans) my mini saturn is now costing what the big old suv used to cost to fill up in 1999...

we don't pay for heating as we are renting but I think its more I feel it emmotionally more than in the pocket book I am starting to worry and think I need to be prepared...

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#13 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 10:17 PM
 
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I got another job and we are moving to be closer to it. I just can't drive all around town for work with gas climbing to $4 a gallon.
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#14 of 86 Old 03-14-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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Okay, so we did our weekly grocery shopping tonight and I carefully looked at prices as I picked items up and put them in the cart.

On canned beef broth - price increase of 11% since I bought it last month. On jarred spices - the cheap ones - price increase of 14% since I bought chili powder last month.

Now we're talking pennies per item - 10 cent increase per can of broth and 16 cent increase per jar of spice, but increase your overall grocery budget by 10-14% when your income isn't increasing and it doesn't take long for most families to feel the pinch. Some sooner if their budgets are more limited.

DH said he noticed some items were up by 25%, but after I saw the chili powder I honestly didn't want to know.
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#15 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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I have absolutely noticed an increase in food prices. Only a couple years go milk was $1.65 a gallon at the commissary! Gas is more, but we drive less since we moved. Otherwise we are doing better than we used to, mostly because of changes in our habits. Our income is stable b/c DH is in the military and healthcare is included so we don't feel it there either. I am really thankful for this even though the military throws a ton of crap at us.
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#16 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
Are you feeling it because of actual changes to your situation, or are you feeling it because it is all over the news? I was thinking about it today - and the only thing that has changed for me is higher gas prices. My home is not being forclosed, my business has not slowed down, I am not poorer all of a sudden.

Sometimes [note that I said sometimes, so if your home is being foreclosed, this is not to say that you are imagining it] I think the news causes the behaviors, rather than the other way around.

Since I have recently started to stay awake for the eve. news I have definitely had more exposure to the "buzz" that the media presents over the economy. And as a mom, it is so hard to see stories of other people suffering or having a hard time. So yes, I think that has definitely influenced me. But our family has truly felt the changes, especially in food and gas. We aren't contributing to savings in the same way right now, which worries me. Don't get me wrong, no one is doing without anything in our house, but we are making decisions to hold off on non-essentials. Although, gulp, we did have to replace two cars this year! We don't live near pub. transportation so we need the cars, but went with gently used, rather than new.

I think that there is a reality to all of this, not just angst created by the media.
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#17 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 01:20 PM
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I'm with you OP. I have watched prices climb for the past few years on darn nearly everything around me yet we didn't make more money and had a few kids.
Each year, food gets more expensive. Bread used to be 3.49, them 3.89, now 4.29. Just one example.
Gas where I live is 3.39.

My friend and I were just talking about how we used to get 2 bags of groceries and spend about 60$ and now it's at least $75-$100.

I don't watch the news so I haven't been exposed to what the PP is talking about.

I guess it depends on what you are buying. My grocery bill has not gone up at all in the last year - it has gone down. To be fair, DH and I do not buy organic, and we have switched from shopping at Jewel (Albertson's) to doing 90% of our shopping at Aldi's. We have also started Weight Watchers, and so we have cut out things like potato chips (and cheetos!), ice cream, cookies, cakes, sodas, highly processed "convenience" foods (like frozen dinners), as well as fast food. We eat more meatless and "less-meat" dishes. We eat more cheap vegetables, like cabbage and potatoes (we go nuts with the "baked potato night" - top 'em high with left over chili or spaghetti sauce!)

I tend to buy cheap stuff anyway - beef and chicken bullion instead of cans of broth. Or I make my own - if I'm cooking a roast or a chicken, I save the drippings or the cooking water, freeze it, and use it later for broth.

We've also cut out store bought ice and bottled water. DH works for our municipality, so it seems dumb to not drink the water that he makes!

ETA: I lost my job last October, and our quality of life has not diminished at all. I actually think it is better now that I'm home to do all hte nice things.
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#18 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 01:50 PM
 
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In the past few weeks the price of a 5 lb bag of flour has gone from 1.64 to 2.64. This is at Wally World . Barilla pasta was featured on an endcap for 1.32 for a one pound box. 20 qt. box of dry milk at Sam's used to be 8.18 and is now 13.66. 18 ct. eggs 1.15 to 2.68. Those are only a few items. I keep a price book so I am very aware of how much things cost. These increases are being played out in all grocery aisles. I spoke with a worker a couple of weeks ago while I stocked up on items I felt would be increasing in price shortly and she said they had tons of price changes just in one aisle. I saw her again today and she told me I was right-things just kept going up and up. I view extra groceries as insurance. Since my bank does not pay interest rates comparable to the rate at which prices are going up, I've chosen to buy extra food when I can afford to. Also, I was buying some garden seeds and a lady approached me to ask a gardening question. She mentioned that as food costs are going up, she is planting more in her garden to supplement her diet. If you have room for a small garden, go for it. Even growing some veggies in containers would be helpful in cutting down on your grocery bill. A website I like is www.sharonastyk.com It is very thought provoking.
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#19 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 01:56 PM
 
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Yes, we definitely feel the slowdown in the economy. I think people who live on a stretched budget feel it the most. We used to run out of money a few days before the next paycheck. Now we run out like a whole week before. I attribute this to higher energy prices (particularly heating gas, which we pay $140 a month for despite turning off the furnace when we are gone and turning it down to 68 at night). Ouch. I can't wait for the warm weather reprise from this major expense. Also, food has gone way up. Eggs especially! We are now planning on getting some chickens to have our own eggs. Something I've always wanted to do anyway, and we have a big piece of yard that we don't want to water (also gone up in price) because it's on the south side with no shade and really hard to keep green, so that will be the chickens' home.

All food has gone up, and stores are having less stuff on sale. Even bananas went up. It's a subtle feeling, but it's also undeniable. You just don't seem to make ends meet anymore if you were barely doing so before. What we have done, and what I see A LOT of people doing now, is use coupons and buy generic. We also drive a lot less and we share one car so that forces us to be more organized with our errands and whatnot and we consolidate trips a lot more. I just don't appreciate all the things I am hearing about food prices going up even MORE, and wheat shortages coming this summer. I am ahead of the game though, because I've already weaned us off wheat (except pasta!!). We find it more affordable and delicious to eat rice, corn tortillas, millet, quinoa, etc. ok, maybe not quinoa because it is a bit pricier, but it gives you more nutrition for your money.

I find that hard times can be beneficial to society and families. They say necessity is the mother of invention. When you are forced to change your ways, wonderful things can happen, like discovering new ways to eat and appreciating more home-cooked meals. Dh and I lived in Costa Rica for several years and we learned that people there don't waste a drop of food. Every veggie is fully utilized, not just the attractive parts. Rice and beans are served with every meal. Cheap cuts of meat are made delicious through slow-cooking. The poor shop at the farmer's market, which has better stuff anyway. Cooking is seen as a necessity of life. You don't cook, you don't eat, people don't call the pizza guy or go through a drive-through because they are too tired. You cook everything from scratch. It takes hours a day but it is so worth it because it's about your health and your finances. I can tell you the people there are hurting. The price of rice and beans goes up there, and it hurts, and that is what is happening. Inflation is hitting all parts of the globe. We still have it pretty good despite everything. It feels like the world is leveling out in terms of our standard of living getting closer to other poorer countries. I guess that is the effect of globalization. I try to lower our standard of living more that we have to because I figure it can only get lower for us. At least for awhile, if not permanently.
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#20 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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Feeling it. We make a lot more than we did a few years ago, and even besides COL differences, it is much more expensive for gas, electric, gas for the car (3.45!!!), food, everything. I know this happens over time, but it's going so fast and income is not keeping up with it.

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#21 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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Amazingly, I am feeling quite optimistic right now. I am an RN, so I have job security, but besides that, I just paid off some major bills that I thought it would take my tax return to pay off...I haven't even filed my taxes yet, so I'm quite happy about this. When I do get my tax return and my stimulus money, I'm going to pay off more bills...we don't NEED anything right now...I'm content with my 27 inch TV, my consignment store furniture, our computers and our vehicles. I've been couponing for a year, and have a nice stockpile built up, and I am in the process of buying a wagon and a bike trailer for Daniel...I won't be driving this summer except to work (across town, night shift) and one trip per week to CVS and Target...I'll do all my deals in one stop. I'm going to get insurance on DH's motorcycle this year (we didn't last year), and that is going to be his transportation to and from work this summer. The Caravan is getting old and is not very good on gas, so we are mostly retiring it for the summer months...it'll be walking, biking, motorcycle, or driving the Focus only if necessary for us. Our rent went up $20 per month starting in May, but is still only $695, I really can't complain. Our entertainment is going to be outdoor concerts in the park, going to the playground, etc. Stuff we can walk to and don't need to pay lots of money, but can still have a fun time as a family.

Sorry to be rambling on and on...I've just been thinking of these things, so am sharing some of the thoughts I've been having that are going to help me remain optimistic thru this whole thing.

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#22 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 08:42 PM
 
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Michigan's economy has been terrible for a long time, so it will really be bad for a lot of folks who are living closer to their means or over them, and don't have the cushion to absorb the increased cost. People's wages certainly haven't increased to meet the prices. I think Michigan was rated the worst of the 50 states to live in, or maybe 49th.

I used to pay about $90 for groceries for the week, that was with little to no organic stuff... and it also included diapers, cat litter, etc. Now it's always at least $130 if not more, depending on what things besides food we need. Pretty bad. We are living well within our means but people who are not (or cannot) are really going to feel the pinch. It's going to be bad times for a lot of folks.
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#23 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 08:44 PM
 
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WOW Tonya, that is quite the stock!!
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#24 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 08:53 PM
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Holy cow. I showed this to my husband, and I think now he will get off of my back about buying two large packages of toilet paper at once.

I assume you have a lot of painkillers because you got them cheap or nearly free, and not because of the children?
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#25 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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Definitely feeling it. DH makes a good living and we live within our means, but our insurance, energy and food costs have gone up at least 30% from 2006 to now. DH hasn't gotten a 30% raise, needless to say. Anyone who isn't feeling it isn't paying attention, and I think those people are in for a rude awakening because IMO inflation is going to get worse before it gets better. Thanks, Uncle Ben, let's keep lowering those interest rates!
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#26 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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I think its not the reality of a crunch its the emmotional impact, sure dh might make really good coin but I know people around me even people I don't know will feel this...they will loose houses, they will go without..its scary..
and it makes me re-evaluate my life....go buy that house with a few acres and chuck it all...sigh

8 might be enough
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#27 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 09:26 PM
 
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You know it's bad when people start talking about putting in backyard gardens! You know it's bad when a lot of couples decide to make do with one car (which they do in Europe). You know it's bad when people start buying gold and silver with their savings. I've done all of the above (except gold - can't afford it, I buy silver). I hope to grow potatoes this year, have a couple chickens, and subscribe to a CSA. I also hope to start learning to color my hair at home. Yikes. Does anyone know if those really cheap places likes Super Cuts will put your own store-bought dye in your hair for you? That's my main issue is trying to get all that color thru my hair, and then the mess...

Anyhoo, definitely changing my mentality here. I agree lots will be in for a rude awakening, as much as I wish that weren't the case. Better to prepare now. I'm not hoarding food, mind you, but anything to make us more self-sufficient is a major plus, IMHO.
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#28 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 09:46 PM
 
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Here in Mass, we definitely feel it in oil and food. And I'm a public employee (teacher), so the school budgets are really feeling the pinch.
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#29 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 10:55 PM
 
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Does anyone know if those really cheap places likes Super Cuts will put your own store-bought dye in your hair for you? That's my main issue is trying to get all that color thru my hair, and then the mess...
They might do that at a cosmetology school.

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#30 of 86 Old 03-15-2008, 11:01 PM
 
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Yes and no.

We started keeping track of our expenses in Sept (we've never had debt, always have savings, but, I wanted to maximize that), so, we've gotten more "efficient" so to speak while the economy is tanking.

I see the effects, but we're not feeling it, just due to lucky coincidence. I'm not working anymore, so I fill my car up about once a month instead of once a week. DH has a work vehicle and a gov. credit card for gas. I'm getting better about cooking completely from scratch, and buying more "in season" stuff. We started eating a little less meat and more "bulk" foods (beans, oatmeal, rice). We don't eat out QUITE as much as we used to. Our heat is included in our rent - which went up 20 dollars this year. All our utilities except for electric are included, actually, right now. And DH got a raise in January, and gets another in April (he didn't get promoted though...outside the primary zone ).

We're actually putting more money away right now, but, I definitely SEE the change. I know eggs used to be about 1.19 at Trader Joe's just this last year (ours only opened a little over a year ago) and now they're up around 2.69. Same idea with milk and what not.

Plus, my husband is in the army. His job SHOULD be pretty stable (knock on wood).
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