When I quit my job a few months ago, I knew I had to tighten my belt, so to speak. Although I only worked part-time toward the end, what little I earned was fun-money. I bought computer gadgets and airplane tickets with it, visiting Internet friends and participating in "Chat room reunions" around the country. For each of the past two winters, my daughter and I visited my "snowbird" sister at her winter home in Mission, Texas. I knew all that would have to stop.
Going to the state fair with my granddaughters was a pretty economical campout, so I was able to do that. And I really feel like it was a vacation.
Now, with gas going up and causing other prices to go up, Cliff and I are trying to make more changes. I worked very hard on a grocery list that, hopefully, will take care of our needs for two weeks. Less trips. There's a grocery store eight miles from us, but it isn't well-stocked, and the prices aren't the best. Neither is the produce. The stores where I prefer to shop are twenty-five miles away, in two different directions. I decided to compromise by shopping at a rather small Super-Walmart, fifteen miles away. Then Cliff said, "It can't be that much further to the big new one." So we went ahead to that one, but we checked the extra miles. Seven miles, one way. So the extra round-trip miles add up to fourteen. That's about 2/3 of a gallon of gas in our car. Probably it's worth that, but we'll keep it in mind.
Cliff said not to buy Diet Coke any more; he likes iced tea, and it's cheaper (and better for him, I think). We've been eating out at least once a week, sometimes twice. We're going to try and limit that to once or twice a month now. I like to cook, anyhow, and Cliff always prefers to eat at home.
We had planned to go to the Old Thresher's Reunion in Iowa, this coming weekend. That's out.
As I told Cliff, we are blessed to have so many things we like to do here at home, so we aren't miserable staying here. Of course, there's my computer... my number-one hobby. And my horse. I have the cabin, where I intend to spend twenty-four hours straight, at some point on this coming holiday weekend. I'm having a terrific time learning to use my new camera, and that's turning into a great hobby too. Cliff has his tractors, and the shop (which is where he'd rather be than anywhere else in the world). I wonder when we'll see our son again, because I doubt that he can afford to come here, and I'm not sure we'll be able to afford to go to Georgia.
Cliff has about four acres plowed and disked, where he was going to plant alfalfa for hay. Because clover seed is much cheaper, he's going to put it in clover and orchard grass now.
I'm digging out all my budget recipes, like the red beans and rice I used to fix all the time, and the lentil stew. I'm buying store brands of most food items. The quality isn't as good, but it'll do.
Other things run through my mind. For instance, the hay the horses will eat this winter could be sold for $2.50 a bale, if we didn't have the horses. So they cost us in more ways than one... the hay really isn't free. The cows, of course, need hay too. Those cows would bring a nice bundle in an emergency, but they are Cliff's cows, and if we had to sell them, I'd want the money to be for something he wants. But it's nice to know they're worth a lot if we had to have the money.
I put all our 401K money into stable value funds for now, because I think there's a big chance of a recession... and possibly a depression. At our ages, we can't afford to wait it out.
Cliff already rides to work with a co-worker. He's given him one raise recently (up to $35 a week now) and is going to give him another raise soon, because he couldn't drive to work himself for that price.
I know from my own experience, most people will lose everything they own rather than cut back on spending. They'll still make un-necessary trips, and buy silly things, even if they ought to be spending that money on clothing for their children. And guess what? I'll still be making stupid purchases here and there too. I recently bought a new digital camera, for instance. Not to mention the $20 tripod I picked up at Walmart today.
But I have cut back. I can tighten my belt a lot more if I must. I was raised that way, and I can, once again, be frugal.
Please don't think I feel sorry for myself. I've been watching CNN and Fox news, and I see that life could be a whole lot worse. God help those people in New Orleans. God help us all.
Indeed, I am blessed.