Over the past several weeks, or should I really say months, Congress has been at odds regarding raising the debt ceiling. The economy is in bad shape and frankly I am quite worried. That is all I will say about that. I don’t want to talk politics, I just want to say that we are living in a very difficult economic time. The one thing that I have learned from this is that we have to depend on ourselves to take care of our own family, neighbors and friends. This is a philosophy that was common amongst our grandparents and great grandparents.
I have been listening to the news and reading the paper and here is what I have learned:
1. Crops are failing due to the weather – flooding, droughts, storms. Crops failing mean prices are going up on items such as food and clothing as two examples. Of all the problems with the weather one thing made me sit up and really take notice. There was a dust storm in Phoenix on July 5th and the pictures that were shown of that dust storm looked exactly like the Black Blizzards of the Dust Bowl years of the 1930’s.
2. Oil prices are fluctuating up and down and there is uncertainty as to when prices will drop and level off for good.
3. Our economy continues to struggle.
4. Unemployment remains high and lay offs continue.
5. The housing market is still in the toilet.
Forget Obama care and forget if you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Tea Party member or anything else – truth is we can point the blame at a lot of people which is easy to do when you are looking at anything in hindsight.
Back in 2009 I was optimistic about our economy as I felt that by the end of 2010 we would be working our way out of this economic mess. Now I truly believe that we have a few years ahead of us until we begin to recover.
I have been reading a book entitled The Great Depression: A Diary. It was written by an attorney who lived in Youngstown, Ohio and as you can guess, he kept a diary from the crash and throughout the Great Depression. His diary mirrors a lot of what we are going through right now. There are so many comparisons but most of all he gives advice to anyone who reads his diary about how to be financially secure in your life such as simply not borrowing much and living way below your means so that you can put money away for hard economic times.
Ever since we got back from vacation I have become increasingly concerned about my family’s future. Costs are up and lay offs continue and if you have a job it doesn't mean that you will keep your job. So what is a person to do?
Sit down and take a piece of paper and ask yourself this question. If this continues for several years, what is my plan for my family’s financial future?
Here is the list that I came up with:
1. Next year I will find a place in our small backyard to plant a garden and grow as many of our vegetables as possible.
2. Money comes with responsibility. I will look at all money that comes in our house as a precious commodity.
3. I will take better care of what we already have be it furniture, electronics, cars, clothing or food.
4. I will not waste anything and will find opportunities to save our resources.
5. I will make a list of financial goals for our family.
6. I will refer to the Tightwad Gazette books often for ideas.
During the spring when I was eating out of the pantry and freezer, my freezer and pantry didn’t get totally depleted, but both went down by about one-third. There weren’t a lot of sales on meat until about 3 weeks ago. I realized that from what I was reading in the paper about prices going up, that I really had to spend extra money in order to stock and really pack my freezer.
Right now I have a 6 month supply of meat, toiletries, baking items, laundry supplies and paper products. I have about a 4 month supply of canned goods and a 3 month supply of cereal.
My grocery budget for as long as possible will be $37.50 per week ($150 for a 4 week period). I want to leave a generous amount for fresh produce and to also pick up some sale items such as canned goods and cereal. Even though I over spent for a few weeks, I will save in the end. I have done this before but never have I ever felt like I must really take to heart what we have on hand to stretch into as many meals as possible.
With prices going up I may never see food, especially meat, at these prices again. I am really serious about doing this and about making good use of what we have on hand. That means that I will be stretching those foods and trying out new recipes.
I am going to put the kitchen makeover on hold except for the wainscoting and painting. The rest can wait.
This isn’t a lark, this isn’t a challenge, this is life. It's time to get serious and face the harsh reality that our economy may continnue to struggle for a few years. We've been living in denial, looking for a quick fix to return us to prosperity. But as the 1930's song said "Prosperity is just around the corner. Which corner is it just around?"
I'm not panicking but I don't want to sit here one year from now(when we could be in an economy that has slipped into another recession that is worse than the one we experienced 2 years ago) and wish I had been more prepared financially for whatever we may face then.
It's time to dig in and get serious for the sake of our families and future.