Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making Your Dollars Stretch

Making your dollars stretch is getting tougher with the economy in the state it is in.  Each day seems to be more dismal as we watch the stock markets take yet again another plummet.  

Growing up on a farm my parents and grandparents were accustomed to making their money stretch.   They didn’t receive a paycheck each week, every two weeks, or even once a month.  They received their paycheck once a year, when the crops were harvested.  If the weather didn’t cooperate, which was often the case, the income was even less.  Once the loan was paid off, which was taken out to plant the crop, repairs made to equipment, and the farm payment made, there was very little left to live on the remainder of the year.  We didn’t get clothes because we wanted them.  We got them because we needed them.  Purchases were based upon a need rather than a want.  Something I am sure we all struggle with today.  

Many people are used to living paycheck to paycheck.   How many of you actually have money saved for a rainy day?  With the increase in cost of groceries, gas, health insurance, and pretty much everything else, saving for a rainy day has become a struggle.  While the cost of things continues to increase, wages seem to be on the decline.  Unemployment figures don’t tell the whole story.  The figures fail to include those people who have fallen off of the scale.  What about those people who are no longer receiving the unemployment check, but still haven’t found work, or even gave up looking?  They are still unemployed. 

I know many people have planted gardens this year to help offset the cost of food in the grocery stores.  I know I did.  That was only one of the reasons, however.  I enjoy eating fresh food that, I know is chemical free.  And my chickens love it too!   I have been very disappointed with my garden this year.  We haven’t had enough rain to sustain it, and while I use my rain barrels to water, I often found them empty.  I opted to water for about a week and a half using the faucet, but once I received the water bill had to decide if it was worth it to continue watering in this manner.  My water bill increased $20 in the short time I watered the garden.  And as my parents commented, what did I get for that $20?  To continue watering would add additional cost to my water bill and how much would I actually get to harvest for the added expense?  

After digging up my potatoes, which was the worst crop I have ever had, I opted to let Mother Nature take its course.  I will still continue to water with the rain barrels and hope for rain but can’t see spending additional money on water for very little return.  In the meantime I scour the weekly grocery ads and watch for sales.  I try to buy items which are on sale and stock up on them until the next sale.  Even doing this, our grocery bill has increased immensely.  If your spouse ever comments on how much you spend at the grocery store, be sure to take them along with you each time.  

My husband couldn’t believe the soaring prices at the grocery store until he experienced it for himself.  He was generally deployed, and although I would comment on the increase in price of the cheese we were buying, or how the packages were getting smaller, while still costing the same, seeing it with his own eyes was to say the least an eye opener.  The costs of dairy prices are still a shock to us.  We are supposed to be in dairy country, but where are the dairy cows now days?  We can travel to Wyoming and buy milk for less than we can here. Currently a gallon of milk is $3.59 and a pound of butter $2.48, and that is on sale.  If you are lucky you can get butter for $1.99, however, they limit you to one.  If you are smart you will make more than one trip through the store to take advantage of the sale price while you can.  I will write more about stock piling and buying in bulk to save money in a later post. 
For now we strive to make our money stretch as far as we can, just as I am sure many of you are doing.  Many people are coming together and sharing ideas with each other, which is great.  It’s nice to see how other people are cutting back and making their dollars stretch.  I am always open to new ideas and continue to brain storm in ways to make a use for something we already have without spending money on something new.
How pathetic is this cabbage?

My cucumber crop isn't what is normally is. 

The only tomatoes that are producing well are those which came up on their own.

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