Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spending Less? Saving More?

Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.
Money, its a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think Ill buy me a football team.

Everyone – The Washington Post, The NY Times, CNN, MSN etc – are reporting that Americans are spending less and saving more. Middle of the road food chains for us porky Americans, like Applebee’s, Chili’s and Ruby Tuesday’s are all duking it out to get that middle class night out on the town dollar. Applebee's offers dinner for two for only $20. Chili's advertises entrees for just $7. Ruby Tuesday's is going for a 2-for-1 deal. Buy one meal, get one free. All of them are making heavy use of discount coupons. We had pretty much stopped going to those places years ago (unless of course we got a gift card to them) in order to support locally owned joints.

So what if anything are you doing differently during this recession/depression? Are you talking advantage of the deals or hunkering down?

Even if you are still gainfully employed and doing ok financially have you changed your lifestyle? Are you paying down debt?

Are you cutting your own grass now (or hair)? Eating out less and cooking at home more? Stopped the hair plug treatments or the Botox? Staying in and renting movies or playing games? Clipping 50¢ off coupons for Rice a Roni and Tidy Bowl? Making your own underwear out of old burlap sacks? Tell me what you are doing to save money and budget better.

Us? We haven’t changed our lifestyle too much. With the size family we have we never have had a ton of excess money each month anyway. We’ve always had enough to survive on – sometimes barely – and we’ve never had to go into debt to meet our monthly obligations. So from a debt point things are the same. Zero credit card debt (we use them but they are paid off every month and have been for the 20 years we have been married). Zero car loans, we have also bought used cars for cash. And we have been in the same house for 9 years. It was a foreclosure that we bought before the house bubble so the mortgage is very manageable. And we still save at least something each month for a rainy day.

It is a good thing we have been living that way because every once in awhile a lot of things go to hell all at once. After our nice anniversary trip to Florida last month, everything decided to break all at once at our house – well almost everything. First our 15 passenger van became possessed on the way home from the airport. Possessed to the tune of $890. Then the stovetop had to be repaired ($225), next it was the computer that fried itself (more or less – I’m still trying to fix it), I bought a refurbished replacement for $290. After that the washing machine decided it was sick of doing 30-35 loads of laundry a week and pulled the plug on itself. New large capacity washer, $830. I tried to delay that purchase a bit but the Misses drew the line at everyone wearing the same pair of underwear for more than 3 days. 1 day later the very old hot water was leaking more than a bunch of drunks in the bathroom of their favorite bar. Price to have hot water so my teens can take 20 minute showers? $850. And that is the main reason I sock money into a savings account each month.

And that is all on top of the everyday expenses that are incurred in keeping a family of 14 going. Darn if those kids don’t want to eat at least 3 times a day. And clothes can only be passed down so many time, especially when you are passing down Strawberry Shortcake jumpers to a younger brother.

We have changed a few things. Our monthly date night has downscaled to less expensive restaurants and I have been putting a bit more into savings…just in case. And when I needed a haircut a few weeks ago I had Sam buzz me with the clippers (and 3 of the boys while she was at it).

It could be worse. I could be living in California which looks to be completely bankrupt by about lunchtime

One final suggestion - Lease/rent, don’t own your fun!


momto5minnies said...

The new look of the blog is nice ... very clean and easy to view.

We have scaled back on vacations, but we are taking a 6 day trip come this Friday. The husband actually used Priceline to snag us some awesome hotel rooms (more than half the cost). We may have to sneak our children in the back door, but ...

Rob said...

m25m - you were my inspiration to change the blog layout. i like the 3 columns that you have now.
stash a few kids in suitcases and smuggle them in ;)
Have a great vacation

JimmyV said...

We decided to learn the whole coupon thing for groceries. More Costco bulk purchases. Otherwise, much like you, we've been living this way for while. 6 years in the house, 15 year mortgage from a good refinance. And I commute to work by foot.

Anonymous said...

You are way better at this than we are. We are in debt up to our eyeballs and our ship is going down, with NOthing to show for it- my husband would kill me if he knew I was making this public knowledge- some of it is character failure and some of it is the hand life deals you- but you have done well with what you have if you can ride out this storm or any storm debt free. That is nirvana for sure.

The Krazy Girl said...

It could be worse. You could be living in a van down by the river. Even with your 15 passenger van it would be a tight squeeze.

Try not to sweat it to much Jo. We only have a morgage. But since taking a vacation and doing some home improvments we have $1000 credit card balance. My dh is livid. To say Im in trouble is an understatement. But, really its not that much money...we just have to hunkerdown on it. When we were married we owed of $80,000 in school loans, cars, and wedding related expenses. Six years later we owned our first home outright. ($80,000) We moved to a more expensive town and have a morgage again. But, money comes and goes....usually goes:) But, try to remember its all perspective:D