Monday, May 2, 2011

Rising costs and simple living

Gas in our area is about $3.75 a gallon right now, and grocery prices this past week at the store were higher than I ever remember them being. This was a sharp jump in the last month or so, and we are really starting to feel the pinch. I have changed some of my spending habits and limits again. We own two vehicles, one of which is used for my husband to get back and forth to work, and the gas in that vehicle has gone up $25 a week (from $35 to $60), or $100 a month. That of course is a cost that can't be skipped as we need him to be able to get to work. Our local grocery store had coffee ( the 12 oz bricks) at $4.89, whereas two weeks ago that same brick cost $3.00. I used to be able to juggle with the sales and get produce for $1/pound in season, and meat for $1.50 and under a pound (sometimes much lower if there was a good sale), but even the sale prices were creeping around $3.00 a pound. Easily my $60 a week grocery budget has jumped to $80.
So what are we doing about it?
I have planted a container vegetable garden and we are also helping my father in law with his large vegetable garden, in exchange for produce. I was also given a canner that will get great use this year so we have that extra taken off the grocery bills in the winter months. I have found a local source for eggs, that are also family, and all they have asked in exchange is baked goods when I make them. We also plan to split a cow with another family come summer, and that should fill my chest freezer with meat, along with the hunting and fishing that the extended family does. I have also scaled back some on the amount of meat that goes in meat meals, and no one seems to notice a difference. We are eating healthier and better as I am pickier about what we spend those dollars on, and we are trying to purchase local if we can. I shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store( meaning the outer ring of dairy, produce, bread, meat) and leave all the convenience stuff to others. It definitely takes more time and planning, but we have found it is worth it.
As for the gas, we like a lot of Americans are finding things to do closer to home. We have several nice parks and local attractions that we are taking advantage of. I also combine as many errands as I can at one time, and we are really using the family memberships to museums or the like on too hot or too rainy days. I had no idea how many close free activities there were, and we have been having lots of fun finding them, and most of all it gives us quality time together to really make memories.

What are you doing to help with the rising costs of everyday life? Did you change to a more simple lifestyle when the prices started to rise, or were you like us and just readjusted what you were already doing a little? What tips do you have?

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