Are y’all feeling the pinch of the economy and failed markets? If so, what changes are you going to make? Drastic or small? Life style changes? Less eating out? Closer eye on grocery bill? Just curious.
We are retired and already on a fixed income so having to watch those grocery bills even more…less scrapping supplies, too. We don’t eat out anyway or drive much during the winter months. Just more careful about everything. Hubby is on several meds and too young for Medicare yet and no health insurance..so the cost of meds is a killer every month.
We have always been real penny pinchers, but we are just being extra careful now. We don’t eat out as much. Look extra hard for coupons. Stay closer to home. Nothing drastic – yet – but just making sure we aren’t wasteful at all.
We are definitely feeling the crunch – my husband is self-employed in the financial services arena and he can’t get anyone to sit down with him right now and talk about finances. Everyone is scared, I think. The only income we’ve had for two months has been the income I bring in from designing…and that’s not enough. Plus, just got our electric bill for last month. $267. And that was with us being ultra conservative and only running the heater for the two nights it froze.
We don’t eat out or have cable or anything else we can cut – and our grocery bill is already at the lowest it’s been – I only allot about $200 a month, which is HARD. We cut out all the “extras” two years ago when my husband quit his full time job and went into business for himself. It’s going to be an interesting next few years…I pray that God gives us the wisdom as to how to navigate these turbulent waters.
I’ve never been exactly frivolous with money, but I’ve been using the public library more instead of just buying the books I want. Since I figured out how to use the county book database, putting books on reserve is working out better than I expected. I’m paying more attention to making trips efficient (use less gas).
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The not buying books is hard for me. I love books and I love to own them. I go to Goodwill a lot and buy books for Sean. When the local libraries clean house, they apparently send them to the Goodwill. You can also often find good kid’s books at garage sales if you do that kind of thing. But yes, libraries are free! ~ AM
I started making my own bread. Paying $3.50 for a pound of flour and water was galling me. We drive less and walk a little more.
I am terribly cheap as it is and the recession hasn’t really wandered North yet so we haven’t made all that many drastic changes.
We were worried before about kids’college tuition (we have a college freshman and a high school sophomore) and how to replace our 14 yr old car that is on its last leg–now, it is a major concern.
We are trying to figure out what else we can cut out. Already no cable, no vacations, very little extras. I am doing more bulk buying when I can, and buying less produce so that there is less waste. And making my lunch much more often at work. Drinking less pop (soda to you east coasters). Water is cheaper.
I have to say, we aren’t making major changes. We’re just not spending money on extra things right now — and of course, everyone defines that differently.
The economy is hurting us. Our house has been on the market where we used to live for two years now, and it shows no signs of selling soon. So we sit in our little (but cozy) townhouse here, and wait for the day when we won’t pay big bucks each month for an empty dwelling in another city while we make do here. But at the same time, we’re thankful we were even able to afford this townhouse, so we didn’t have to live apart while we wait. America is like that. Even when we’re being pinched, we have so much more to pinch.
I’m single and have just the one income…I’ve been taking on freelance work for some extra money and keeping a strict eye on the grocery bill, but mostly I’ve just been limiting my waste. I don’t grocery shop until ALL the food in my fridge is eaten, even if it means eating weird combinations (eggs and peas) for dinner and use every drop of the toothpaste and shampoo before replacing. The little things definitely add up.
mostly it’s that we can’t save money like we used to. and I’m being a lot more careful with food. I don’t see where I can cut anything much more. unless we get rid of cable. and the second car. And believe me, we’re considering it. And we make what I think is a LOT of money, and I’m able to stay home, and we’re able to pay for our youngest’s therapy, though not enough of it. (and that’s why we already cut everything we could). And not having therapy for R is NOT to be thought of. I’ll get rid of everything else first.
I retired a few years ago and am just learning to adjust my negative salary! It’s a good thing too. The time calls for us to spend less with the high prices of everything so I am learning to not be so compulsive.
I started saving money about 4 years ago when our fertility problems signaled possible IVF. My husband is self employed and we can not count on his income. I started searching out financial and thrifty blogs whose influence and advice has been so helpful. It’s nice not to feel alone when you are on the cheap. Then, I cut back on meat. Once a week we have breakfast for dinner. I also only shop on the route that I drive to and from work. Then I cut out going to the mall for recreation. If I don’t see nice new styles, I don’t feel so outdated when I go in my closet. All in all we have saved over $30,000 on mostly one teacher’s salary-while living in uber $$ Los Angeles. If I can do it, anyone can.
Years of living on one income and weathering a few tough finacial seasons have taught us many ways to cut corners. We are not currently feeling the effects of the recession but we live well within our means.
We eat out once a month and order water instead of soda. That one cost cutting choice is a pretty big savings for our family of seven. It only takes a few minutes to pack a bunch of sandwiches if I know that we will be out of the house during mealtime. The crockpot is a handy tool for those busy days.
The kids each have one pair of shoes and one drawer of clothes…the majority (except the shoes) are hand-me-downs and thrift store finds. We rejoice over these treasures.
My car sits in the driveway except for Sundays. We combine church and grocery shopping because of the distance we have to travel.
I use my credit card points to buy most of the kids school books.
We keep our house cold in the winter and warm in the summer. The kids know to add layers before we turn up the heat.
We say yes to hand washing and nutrition and no to sugar and do not frequent the doctor’s office. (The humidifier, saline drops, a heating pad and warm compress, and lemon water work wonders on a variety of winter ailments.)
I throw out catalogs as soon as they come to avoid temptation. It has been several years since we’ve been in a mall.
Home improvements on our older-fits-nicely-into-the-budget house? Only when we have cash in hand. Currently this means living with thirteen different floor coverings. Yes. It drives me crazy. A small price to pay for the priviledge of being home with my kids.
The greatest thing that has come out this current downturn in the economy is that we’ve finally been able to convince the grandparents that we really don’t need a truckload of toys for Christmas. We’ve been telling them this for years. Finally they see the light. Flannel sheets and wool socks are on the way. Yeah!
Great topic, AM. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s ideas.
I’ve enjoyed everyone’s posts. We too are a one income family, so we are used to watching all our expenditures very closely. We already drive used cars (no car payment), no cable, and have a very limited “entertainment/eating out” budget ($200/mth for our family of 5, soon to be 6).
The thing that helps me the most is being on a cash budget. My husband gets paid once a month, and so at the beginning of the month I take out a predetermined amount for groceries, household expenses, and entertainment, and keep the money in separate envelopes. Once the money has been spent, that’s it! It really has helped us stay on budget and think about our purchases carefully. Something about seeing the cash actually pass out of my hands…
We’re always pretty frugal, though we’ve been more careful than usual of late.
Maybe more importantly, we’ve been giving thanks more often than usual that we still have our jobs and our home and enough money to pay for food and clothing and health care, and even buy some extras now and then.
We’ve lived on a bare minimum for a number of years now, and really don’t have a lot of extras we could cut. Most of the kids’ clothes are hand-me-downs and I only buy a new pair of pants if my old ones are torn (literally). We do have quite a bit of expense with the kids daycare/preschool/and now private school. However, I am not really willing to cut costs with education. We are buying less toys (kids don’t really much care for them anyway).
At the moment I am more working on increasing income (working as a freelancer) than on decreasing expense (not much more that can be cut down on).
we’re feeling it. we found out tuesday that my husband’s company is doing away with his job. yikes! 15 years in upper mgmt. poof. gone. so here’s what we’ve done.
1. no more eating out (svgs 100-150/mo)
2. cell phone bill sliced in half (svgs 50/mo)
3. no more guitar lessons (svgs 50/mo)
4. no more houskeeper (svgs 100/mo)
5. spanish classes GONE! (svgs 100/mo)
6. no more garbage pickup (svgs 15/mo)
7. homemade christmas cards (svgs about 30 bucks)
8. we homeschool so all that is already paid for.
9. clothes are hand me downs.
10. no new winter clothes for me or the hubbie!
11. and I’m up for ANY and all suggestions!
And there will be more! Groceries will go from outrageous to about 500-600/mo. And we’ll be wearing sweaters in the house for a while.
I tell you all this and must add that we firmly believe God is in control and will use this to move us to where he wants us next. In the meantime we will do the best we can with what He’s given us. And wait on Him.
Being retired on a very good pension plan + 2 SS checks hasn’t affected us much. I still work at an online teaching job which gives us a surplus at times. We still do pretty much as we please and do, on occasion, help out our kids who are definitely feeling the effects of the current economy. We are very fortunate to be in the position we are in at the present time.
We’re a one-income family, but we make a point of living below our means to begin with so I haven’t really noticed a pinch. I spend $40-50 on groceries most weeks, we rarely eat out, and we go for free or at least cheap entertainment. Today’s Saturday-afternoon fun was going to the nursery to look at plants (we want to put something in front of the house) and then dropping by the Goodwill Blue Hanger outlet where we spent $3 on three books and a “new” hose for our vacuum. I buy most of my clothes at Goodwill, and shop consignment/Craigslist for anything I can. We recently replaced our stove for $150. I guess I’m lucky that we haven’t felt the economic problems hit us yet. In fact, I’m looking on the bright side — we’re investing for retirement and college savings, and investments are “on sale” right now!
I didn’t fight my daughter when she said she wanted to quit dance class. It was a tough call – teach her the importance of sticking to a commitment vs. the importance of using our money wisely. Ended up talking about both, of course, but let her quit (which was easy since we pay by the month anyway and had not committed to the recital yet).
Just keeping an eye on other spending – living within our means, not going to Target to kill time, etc.
We live on one income, which is relatively flat. We’ve gone from not worrying much about money to being mindful how we spend. We’ve been talking about being mindful of money for years and this was the push we needed to get serious about it.
Marie… ohmigosh, I still have my copy of the Tightwad Gazette, I never subscribed, but I bought both books.
I have to say…we’re trying to have a good sense of humor and not stress too much. It doesn’t help. We are being more purposeful in our spending. For instance, instead of all of us going to the theater, my husband might take my daughter–especially if it’s a movie my son and/or i am “lukewarm” on seeing. E.g HSM 3 is a perfect “daddy/daughter” date. They get time alone, and we save about $20. We’re doing planned, rather than spontaneous eating out, and unless I’m on a date, I don’t order alcohol with dinner. I try to order water, but if not water, then just a soft drink. Little things, I know…
I’m one of those women who think it’s important for the wife, no matter how staunch her stay-at-home beliefs, to be able to step in and out of the workplace to help with family finances. So yes, I’ve been working a bit more and picking up some consulting jobs.
We literally usually don’t have a dollar bill left at the end of the month any more, but I save quarters, and putting several of those together has helped many times. We are very blessed, so I’m not complaining, but it definitely has gotten tighter. I cut dryer sheets in half sometimes, hang jeans, bath towels, sheets, blankets, and heavy things on the line. And I hate to admit it, but since it’s usually just my husband using his bathrm and me using mine, I don’t flush every time since I may go 2 times in an hr. Gross, I know, but I wonder if I’m perhaps saving a nickel each time, and that might add up to a quarter or more a day, which by the end of the month would be several dollars. I now make homemade pizza instead of ordering them. We definitely don’t eat out as much as we used to, and now have homemade birthday cakes at family parties. My husband had some money saved back that he used to replace our lightbulbs with the new kind. We hope that helps. We are also running small heaters instead of turning up the furnace. We are indeed blessed with a nice, warm home, good health, and a wonderful family! (P.S.– we see the light at the end of the tunnel as our children’s college days will be over before too long. Our dumb past mistakes are what has made our present tight. My husband was an only child who was indulged, and his spending habits over the years have not helped us. I also could have been more frugal. However, as one of my friends said, “I can pinch pennies with the best of them, but I don’t want to be the only one doing it.”
I’d love for my husband to get a little of the Dave Ramsey thinking, but he turns off the radio when he hears it– can’t stand that way of thinking. I’m not blameless, of course. Always want to get nice gifts for our family members whether we can afford them or not.
We are doing lots of things to cut back. We cancelled the paper, use the library, cut coupons and buy only whats on sale.I try to make stews and soups so we can freeze the leftovers for another time. We aren’t eating out as often, I am really missing sushi nights though. Instead of turning up the heat we will get a fire going. I also am more mindful of what I’ll be buying for the holidays and we aren’t having our traditional Christmas party. I carpool to work daily and as we carpool we share ideas.We call ourselves “recessionistas”. It hasn’t been that hard and I am so blessed in many different ways, a loving family, a home my husband and I built, jobs we like, great friends, the list could go on and on.
The state of the economy doesn’t really scare us right now, other than the fact that our parents, who are in their 50’s, are watching their retirement money ride around on a pretty crazy roller coaster.
We only live on one income, and a fairly new teacher’s salary at that, so we’ve always had to pay close attention to our spending.
Here’s the basics of what we do: DON’T GO INTO TO DEBT FOR ANYTHING, Tithe, Save, and figure out how to spread the rest around. We also have chosen not to have a mortgage right now, and to live in an apartment that is well within our budget.
It has been difficult to see all of our friends enjoying their houses, their YARDS, their toys, and all the other stuff, but we are so very thankful that we have learned to live within our means, especially in times like these.
I think I’ll write a post on this later this afternoon 🙂 because I’m sure I’ve already filled up WAY too much of your comment space…come by and check it out!
I very seldom use my dryer. In the winter months I need the humidity in my home anyway so it’s no big deal. Ironically, I use it more in the summer (!) as it is the spin in the dryer that kills the ticks and chiggers that swim through the washer unharmed. I have recently purchased an old wringer washer and will use it in the summer months. I’m not sure about the electricity savings with it, but it will surely require less water. I try to be very mindful of food portions so that I can freeze what might have in the old days been pitched out. My days of town trips are longer as I combine all errands possible to cut down on driving.
Much of what you and your readers mentioned- though we are not frequent “eating-outers” anyway… small changes, like, instead of eating dinner out- we will eat breakfast out- which is a treat and much less expensive than dinner. Also, make our own pizza night every Friday- which not only is way yummier, butalso cheaper. Also, big library users- rent movies through the library as well. We quit buying bottled water (even though we think it tastes much better). We were planning on a big family trip over the holidays- instead, are planning on a “stay-cation” at home…which probably will be much more relaxing anyway. Turning the thermostat down and wearing warm clothes- we love our old house, but not the heating costs!
We are being more conscious and intentional, keeping a running monthly tally and gradually communicating better between spouse and me about little things we can cut. One-income and currently floating two mortgages as we’re waiting for new tenants in a house we own in another city…things are TIGHT.
1. We don’t eat out as a family. Hubby is taking soups and leftovers to eat for lunch at work.
2. Library, yes — watch those late fees!
3. Incorporating leftovers into meal planning. Getting everyone on board and discussing how much it’s saving us by doing that. (e.g. How much does a typical meal for a family of five cost?) It’s a BLESSING to have this good food left over and not a hardship, etc.
4. What my kids don’t eat at a meal (simply because they’re no longer hungry) I put aside and give it to them when they ask for a snack. Greatly saves on snack items from the grocery store. (I’m not an ogre about this — it’s usually their sandwich portion from lunches.)
5. I simply try not to go shopping. When I do go, I frequent my favorite thrift store and goodwill. I still find myself getting second-hand books, clothes for the kids, etc, because they were “such a good deal”, not necessarily because they were needed. That is my achilles’ heel and something I am trying to work on.
6. MEAL PLANNING: this is my number one money saver. When I don’t plan out the meals for the week, I spend significantly more at the grocery store every month. I’m trying harder now to shop with coupons and stock up on weekly specials to incorporate into next week’s/month’s meals.
7. I am slowly decluttering items in our house that are not necessary (and NOT replacing them or filling up the space it empties) and consigning them at the thrift store. Of course, this puts me IN the thrift store where I can’t help but look around for bargain treasures (see #5 above) … “Small moves, Ellie.”
We went down to one salary this summer when we adopted 2 children from Ethiopia.
We’ve stopped eating out except maybe once a month.
I have always let the Library keep my books and DVDs for me. It’s quite a collection now. 🙂
I let the Salvation Army hold my other junk.
We de-clutter frequently, so that we know what we have and can better see what we need.
My husband started car-pooling with other work mates. It was costing $12/day just for him to get to work!
No cable TV… we did this one before we had kids.
We have found families at church that have children bigger than ours, and have gotten TONS of clothes from them. We then pass the useful clothes on to kids smaller than ours. We spend very little on clothes for the children.
I make our own baked goods.
We are fortunate to have many people in our family and community who want to purchase bigger ticket items for our newly arrived children.
I can’t bring myself to turn the heat down to 65. 68 with a blanket is my limit… 70 feels better. 🙂
Since becoming a SAHM, we’ve lived on a budget for the last 3 years. A very strict one! My biggest struggle now is to find a way, although WE are struggling, to give to others less fortunate. With all of the holiday food drives and toy drives in full-swing, it’s difficult to find that “extra” to give to others, but we really are so blessed to have what we do! At the grocery store, I bring all of the coupons I can. Whatever they amount to, I try to donate that amount to the community food drive. It’s not much, but I still feel we’re doing something to give back, and that makes me feel good.
* * * * * As of today, we still have about the same income. That may change tomorrow, who knows. But like most Americans, the recent market fiasco has adversely impacted our nest egg. We have some time to recover from that, but not as much as we’d like so conserving our income has become a more of a priority.
I have committed to my husband to do a lot better with my grocery budget. It’s not so much the groceries as the other stuff I buy when I’m at the grocery store that gets thrown in the cart just because I can throw it in the cart – the toys, the tshirts, the not-needed lipstick, the gadgets, etc. It’s just laziness on my part and it adds up.
I plan to buy fewer clothes. AM loves her some new clothes and I’ve got more than I can wear already. If I would step away from the Halloween candy and lose 5-7 lbs I would have a lot more things I already own that I could wear.
We eat out entirely too much. It’s not even a treat anymore to eat out. We’re going to cut back on that.
We probably won’t run our gas fireplace as much this winter.
I’m going to do better about waiting until I get a full load to do laundry.
I’ll not stop at Starbucks on a whim.
I’ll think twice about jumping in the car and running to the store for just one thing.
I probably won’t travel to attend writing and photography workshops.
We’re cutting out our gym membership.
We won’t do some of the decorating projects I’ve been wanting to do – recovering a sofa and a couple of chairs will wait and that kind of thing.
All in all, nothing drastic. Yet. But there is a gathering storm on the horizon and I’m keeping my eye on the cellar.
We are certainly affected. My husband is a building contractor and my income has been sliced in half in the last year due to the company laying people off and reducing salaries of those who remain. We have made changes and will continue to do so.
Thanks to all the commenters for many suggestions.
I guess we’re just like everyone else out there. My husband is a self-employed carpenter with health insurance that covers only emergencies. He’ll be out of work next year for six months after having shoulder surgery (to be done in January). We’re definitely saving our money! We buy at Sam’s Club for bulk items and store brand items for everything else. Our one “night out” is picking up a pizza! No vacations, no extras whatsoever. We have two daughters – one in college and the other a jr in high school. Everyone’s feeling the pinch right now. We just keep praying that we’ll all make it through this tough time.
I am staying out of the Dollar Store this Christmas. My philosophy is if it is that cheap…it won’t last, we don’t need it. Much like you don’t need bread crumbs in meat loaf. Just cheap fillers. I am trying to give gifts that are consumable and something that has a purpose. Not just collectible chatchkes because I couldn’t think of anything else. I am giving dish towels, and note cards. Homemade baked goods and homemade aprons. I am buying many handmade gifts from local crafters to keep the money in our local economy.
We’ve watched our retirement plans lose 30% of value but thankfully, being in our 50’s, we are praying they will turn back around in time for those paychecks. We didn’t sell or move money because we are in it for the long run.
We are careful what we buy but at the same time, going ahead with purchases as before…..we had planned to replace our windows this fall and even though I was conflicted (save it because the media says there is a recession or go ahead) we did just get brand new windows. We are stimulating the economy while we are saving on energy.
Otherwise, we haven’t seen a change in our personal income or in our purchasing power.
Our son (30 and finishing up his MBA) is looking for work. He quit his job last month for personal ethical reasons and found himself in the middle of a large jobless pool which isn’t easy to traverse.
At times like this I wish we didn’t have the media to tell us what is gong on elsewhere. If we didn’t hear that so many people were out of work or didn’t know that the car industry was asking for billions for a bailout, would we be personally affected in our home towns? When we put-off a purchase we can afford from fear, are we helping the economy stay “down” or are we helping to make sure we can survive longer? I don’t know the answer to that one!
One thing we’ve started doing is that when my mom comes over to babysit to give us a date night, we just go over to her house instead of a restaurant. It’s actually been a pleasant surprise — we can get pretty nice food at the grocery store yet it’s still cheaper than eating out (and saves on gas, too).
Economy:I think we should stop and ask ourselves; is it really that bad, or just an inconvenience perhaps to a spoiled society ? We should also be intelligent enough to know the difference between “needs and wants”, and make the right choice. How much more STUFF do we want/need?
Many of us baby boomers have heard our parents, and grandparents talk about the Great Depression. Somehow I do not think we can even visualize what they endured, yet survived. Listen, and learn from those who have “been there and done that”!
Be conservative, and appreciative of what you have. We need to stop, and look around at our blessings !
Take a minute to think of our Veterans on Veterans Day, both past and present,and the sacrafices they have made/making. Count your blessings; and remember: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”!
One word — coupons! It’s a lot more work, studying the flyers for what’s on sale and shopping at more than one place to get things on sale (but keeping in a circuit to save gas). And doing a price comparison at Sam’s Club, because many times, even with a coupon, Sam’s is cheaper. My husband thinks I’m crazy, because it does require a willingness to stock up on things when they are on sale.
Nothing really. That is the great thing about already living frugally. The economy doesn’t affect you much. We were already tryin’ to “Live like nobody else” so now we can “live like nobody else”. I heart Dave Ramsey!!
Well, the husband and I have been discussing how we could make a change with the budget. But his ever so kind employer decided to force changes on us. They laid him off. Isn’t that kind. SO in this great economy, we are looking for a new job! 🙂 Of course being in a christian non profit charity organization is not easy in this economy.
I’m not really noticing too much difference. We are still able to pay our bills, save money, and give to charities like we always have. We’ve been working on paying off most of our debt which has saved us $350 a month which we are devoting to our remaining bills. In about 4 months we’ll be debt free! I love Dave Ramsay!
I do cut back on a few things – my niece cuts and colors my hair which saves me about $30 a month, I only get my nails done every two weeks and I just get a polish change which costs me about $5 and I get a pedicure about every 2-3 months, especially in the wintertime. A couple of times a week, we have lower cost meals such as breakfast for dinner, or Zatarans red beans and rice with bratwurst. Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual.
Oh, I forgot my most important tip – stay OUT of the stores! I know if I set foot in Wal-mart, Target, or Costco, I will be dropping at LEAST $100, no matter what I went in there looking for. I give my husband or son a list and a check.
Where we are, this summer was very wet, so people didn’t use their sprinklers as much as usual. So the water rates went up to compensate. My fear is that we will all be economizing on heating, so they will put the costs up. What do you think?
Luckily (and unluckily, I suppose), I’m starting this whole ‘adult’ thing at the same time as the economy tanked. So, it’s not so much an adjustment as it is another factor in the learning process.
I’m learning to cut coupons and buy frugally. We’re not driving very much. I’m learning how to make as much food as possible from scratch instead of buying expensive pre-made food, and learning how to use left-overs to cut waste.
Unfortunately, I’m also losing my job in 2 weeks, so we will be living verrrryyyyy frugally until I get another. Husband is doing research half-time for a small wage, so we’ll be learning to make do on that for a while (hopefully not more than a month, but who knows with this economy!)
We are a single-income family of 4, trying to afford to put our oldest child through her first year of college. I drive a 15-year-old car and my husband drives the “new” car (it’s only 13 years old!!) Our college-aged daughter still doesn’t have her own car. I color my own hair at home instead of the salon now, rarely get new clothes, have cut way back on groceries and can make a tank of gas last 2 weeks. We live paycheck-to paycheck, with nothing left over after paying the bills.
Not making many changes around here. We keep things pretty lean anyway.. no cable, eating out only once a month, etc. However, we are going to have a much simpler Christmas due to the economy and a new baby.
Well I for one will be eating more humble pie after reading all these lovely frugal convictions. What can I say? My convictions are the same, just needed a little nudge in practicing some of them once again, Thank you, antique mommy and all you wonderful women for daring to stand firm in this wisdom, and passing that on to others 🙂
I’ll just be getting on in to my kitchen to do up my menu’s now 🙂