Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Frugal Challenge Update, Is This the New Normal?

How to write this post without offending anyone? Hmm. These are just my thoughts this week as a middle class mom trying to make ends meet. First off, it is not lost on me how lucky we are, so don't think I am whining because my thoughts do not stem from that but from my day to day life doing what we all are doing, trying to stretch an even thinner dollar even farther.

Everything that you need to buy is skyrocketing and it seems no one is going to do anything about it. Here in our state gas is so high that you really have to think before you drive anywhere. Now the last time gas spiked like this guess what spiked next? Food, yes already sky high food prices are bound to climb again. If it costs more to ship food the higher prices will be sure to follow.

When fuel prices adjust do the food prices and all the other goods we need go down? No they don't. So I ask is this the new normal? There is no way wages will keep up with these rising costs. Living on less has become the norm for a lot of us and I do live a life where we have enough to eat and a nice roof over our head and I know some do not. I know personally others who do not have that because of job loss and other reasons.

But I want hope in the future for my kids. I see graduates who cannot get jobs everywhere I look. How does  someone graduate top of class and find it hard to get a job? I know keeping at it is important and hopefully jobs will be found, but this is not what it looked like for me when I graduated from college. It is not what it looked like even a few short years ago.

We are facing a point I fear in our country where we may not turn these things around. I will not get political on here as that is not my format but I will say it how it is for me and for my family as we see it and live it every day. No matter who wins this next election, I ask again is this the new normal? After a while I fear we will forget more of how it was and accept a new lower standard of the American Dream. 


  1. i agree. i sure hope you get no hate mail ... i think we should be able to say our truth & have no worries about it. i truly fear for the world. i've heard the recession is over. but i'm so sorry i don't agree. i'm out of work, so many are out of work. & so struggling & really having to go without on certain things they really need. i'm young still so i guess i have never been through the depression in the 30s... but i wonder what is this considered? we have to change our minds & do things differently. i love your posts on food & how you change the way you do things ... i thank you so much for telling me because i do learn from you. i don't have kids like you but i can adapt it to work for me & the hubby. big hugs. (:

  2. I think in time to come if you do not have the money, and most of us want, you will not be able to see a doctor. I was born and raised during the depression, so I know what hard times is all about. I survived and am better for it, and so will you.

  3. Well said! I know we all have to make adjustments to our lifestyle with the economy the way it is! I've cut way back and eat less meat, drive less and buy less. I pray for the younger families! Hugs, Linda

  4. I agree and this is so well written.

  5. well said. both my hubby and I are not working and it is rough right now with the gas... Yes, I have to think before going anywhere. It stinks. Food...Oh man I agree with everything you post and being frugal is surely a help Thanks for the words. Hugs, Mica

  6. Great and thoughtful post, I understand it's hard to get by....

    Especially when you have a larger family....

    I guess we are all learning to cut our expectations down, life changes so must we.

    How much is your gas per gallon?

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. How gas prices vary from state to state is interesting. We are paying about 3.37 for gas. Which is a low price in the country right now. But milk is $4.00 a gallon at our Walmart where I will not shop. CC has applied for dozens of jobs near her college and has had a few interviews but is unable to get a job. I think folks our age are getting those jobs because it is all they can get.

  8. I'm afraid we have seen things at their best. I do not think things will get better in our country either no matter which person we end up with for a president. Now I will go out on a limb and say this... I really have a problem with not having a Christian option for a candidate. I do not believe either are Christians. It's just my opinion and if you want to delete my comment, I understand.

  9. Hate mail, I saw mention of in a comment? I think you should get a medal for telling the truth and bravery. Elaine, you so eloquently hit the nail right on the head. In six months, I will likely no longer have health insurance. Because I will have to choose food over that. As so many already have to do. And some don't even have food. I think we are probably looking at the new normal, unfortunately. And I don't really know what any one person could do about it at this point.

  10. Well said, Elaine.
    I totally agree with what you are saying. The thing is people ARE forgetting. I was talking with someone recently and they were telling me how they get discounts at the grocer to lower their gas at the pump, when you get gas at this grocer's pumps. This person was happy about the .30¢ off per gallon, and actually said to me..."that's pretty good,huh?"

    I said "NO! $3.19 a gallon is NOT good! But that is what 'they' want you to think. That you're getting a deal.'
    It is the same way, around the holidays when gas prices fluctuate. They go down, so you will have confidence to travel and spend money.' And you think you're getting a deal.

    The new NORMAL is ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL. People need to wake up! So thank you -- for this open reminder. The truth is ...after this election, regardless who wins...I'm afraid we are in for NOT JUST a bumpy ride...but a RUN AWAY TRAIN!

    ...hate to be negative, but it's true. Pat

  11. My daughter graduated from college, with honors, last May. Still can't get a job. Half the people I know are out of work and looking.

    It's pretty sick when we say "Gee, look, gas is ONLY $ 4.10 this week." We were paying $ 4.50 a couple weeks ago in Chicago.

  12. Je suis de tout coeur avec vos réflexions qui sont devenues celles de beaucoup d'entre nous... C'est la même chose, partout dans le monde malheureusement.
    J'ose espérer... C'est tout ce que je peux faire moi à petite échelle.
    J'ai 4 enfants dont encore une qui est étudiante. J'ai deux petits-enfants et je ne voudrais pas être à leurs places...
    Gros bisous à vous
    Gros bisous

  13. I think thingas are coming back, where I am. More jobs, company's are bouncuing back hiring former layoffs. Housing prices are going up too. For those struggling you just do what you can- I started canning, sell excess eggs, barter and I live in the city :)

  14. Elaine, you have said exactly what a lot of us want to say. I have been shocked by the gas prices since moving here, but was prepared for things to be more expensive. I find, so far, our grocery expenses to be about the same. But I'm only feeding for the most part two adults and three animals. When the kids come visit, it goes up! I don't, no, I refuse to believe this is the new normal. I have a daughter who is a recent college graduate who has moved out here too - living with her brother and his wife, thank goodness, but she still can't get hired! She tirelessly puts in applications and goes to interviews only to be disappointed time and time again. We are fortunate to be able to help her financially so she has the "luxury" of holding out for a higher paying job, but pretty soon that's not going to keep working. I've been saving a lot of our recycling because I see people turning them in to kiosks - is it worth it, Elaine? I was going to take my bundle tomorrow. Luckily I have a small car and we are able to explore our new state a bit, but it's always in the back of our mind. I believe in this country and I believe things will get better. I'm like you, I feel lucky. Hope that feeling continues. Ann

  15. I hear you. I fear for our future unless both parties can work together for the country's good. It's sounds unlikely, but you can bet I'm going to be a squeaky wheel with those representing me in D.C.

  16. I agree with you in what you said and I honestly don't know if our economy will get any better. I have a feeling this indeed is our new "normal". Funny how frugality is once again popular. It's a scary world out there.

  17. I am very concerned about the economy and the direction of our country, and fear we are doing a disservice to our children and the next generations. Let's hope we can get this train back on track.

  18. Elaine,

    You said exactly what's on the minds of so many. Frugal has become a very popular word because we all need to be these days. But most importantly, I fear for our country because of the roots we've gotten so far from....our Christian roots.

    Thanks for speaking your heart. I seriously am burdened for our great country! It's future seems bleak right now. My trust is in the Lord though.

    Thanks, Elaine.


  19. It is scary. I see no reason why you can't voice your feelings. It was well stated. I can't get over the increase in our grocery bill.
    We are trying to conserve in every way we can.

  20. Interesting to read and it also shows a lot of what I read about the current situation in the U.S. Lack of job autonomy in education. Wages are so low that daily life still does not add up. I am so angry at the banking industry that blighted so many families' economies. Who would have thought that Lehman Brothers would put a world of disorder. What I find so disturbing is that the gap between those who have and those who have not increased as much worldwide. Of the documentaries I've seen from the U.S. so affected now even the middle class of the recession. The Congress and Senate are constantly blocking each other's proposals worry. Regarding the price of petrol, Sweden has absurdly high price. We have high environmental taxes. It is the state's way of reducing car travel. Difficult issues you write about but if there is freedom of speech, you have to also be able to talk about this. Most importantly, the people go to vote. Regardless of the candidate. Warm Hug Zinnia

  21. Kudos to you for speaking about an important issue. I agree with Zinnia about the responsibility of Lehman Brothers for impacting the WORLD economy. Greed of that magnitude should be punished and enough people have just taken their money and are living their comfortable lives.
    I am very political and a history wonk. I am also someone who believes in peace and diplomacy.
    We became involved in the war in Iraq for no good reason. We were lied to by our politicians. We have wasted treasure and the precious, precious lives of our soldiers and the innocent civilians of that poor country. What happened to all the money that the Bush administration spent there? There has been no accountability. Dwight Eisenhower warned that our country was in peril of allowing the military establishment to control our destiny. Look at the percentage of our GNP that is spent on weapons. America is a wealthy country, but we are not taking proper care of the needy in our country and we are not taking care of our roads, schools, the elderly, medical needs and children. Politicians do not have the moral backbone to stand up for the right policies. I believe that I have a responsibility to pay taxes as a citizen for the good of all, but I believe we waste money on the military mindset. Americans think we are always "right" but if you seriously study history, you will see that we are not. 9/11 was a terrible attack, but very few people asked, WHY did such a terrible action happen? Our leaders have not always treated other countries the way we should. America has blood on its hands.
    I do not hate this country. I believe that God has blessed us, but our people need to educate themselves and NOT listen to those who just want to rile up passions. Education and thoughtful reflection is so important...and now, I must hurry to get ready for my important job of teaching reading to struggling K. students.
    I started this comment to say that there is money here to help our citizens. Look at the percentage that is spent on weapons and how much is spent on the citizens. Some call this a socialist perspective but I call it sanity and taking care of our citizens. NO one should have to die because they can't afford medical care, no one should be hungry or homeless in our country. We need to use the brilliant minds that created the space program and have made all the amazing products that we use everyday to develop a better engine for transportation. We have to look for alternative energy. Look at Germany and their solar energy use. We have to get over our Cold War, big business attitude...I could write and write and will be interested to see what others think.

  22. I'm from Ireland and trust me when I say we have been living frugally for years now.

    There was this "Celtic Tiger" generation that they talk about here who had EVERYTHING and knew the value of nothing... I was in college for that generation of spending and came out with nothing.

    I am lucky to have a job I'm told, even though it's in not in my field. I'm lucky to have a car and a roof over my head and while I don't for one second take any of these things for granted, my taxes and hard earned savings are paying for a generation of mistakes, that spent money like it was going out of fashion.

    Living frugally, clean and simply is better for us all they say- but we've been doing that for years now anyway. Out of necessity not out of choice. Now we're being told we must do it... with no example from government who increase their paychecks to comfort themselves and pad their nests.

    I can't see why anyone would be offended by your post- it's well written and empathetic. Life around the world is hard these days. We need innovators, inspirators and examples of do-gooders! We just have to wait for them to get out from under their own hardships :(

  23. Gone are the days that you get a job, work hard and lead a good life with a home. I agree I do not think it matters who is in.
    I thank god everyday i am nurse, I have a job and make a good living, but everyday it seems less and less. Funny, I found a letter i sent my Grandma iin 1983, she and my Grandfather had come to visit and they took me to get my hair cut and a new pair of nursing shoes..30 yrs later I am in the same hole...I need someone to pay for a hair cut and I need new shoes!

  24. I couldn't agree with you more! I've never prayed for our country and an election so much. I pray for wisdom in my decisions on a daily basis and trust God on the rest. He is always faithful to provide! It's hard to say anything political online without starting a mean-spirited firestorm, so I won't...but well said, Elaine!!!

  25. Can we really afford four more years of the same?

  26. Regarding SuzieQ's question as to how much of the GNP is spent on military expense, it is 4.7 percent.
    As to the the percentage spent on entitlement programs? In 2012 it was over 50 percent.

  27. It is quite sad to think about. I feel like we are at a bump in the road and in time, things will turn around. I have to think positively!

  28. I wondered if there would be angry responses and I am pleased that everyone is being respectful. I have nothing but respect for our military service members. My father flew missions during WWII and fought in Korea, my brother served during the Vietnam era and I have an ancestor who fought for the Union during the Civil War. I had to check on Echoes From the Hill's figures and I saw different numbers quoted for both military spending and entitlements. One site wisely commented that our percentage appears low because America as a nation has a lot of money to spend. We are a rich nation and where we choose to spend our wealth worries me greatly. I thought this was a great site, which explains spending in an unbiased way.
    I agree that making do with less is not altogether a bad thing. I grew up with parents who lived through the Depression and my mom, at 90, has NEVER paid interest on a credit card, so I get frugal. My concern is that the long term goals of this country have to change and military spending is something that should be looked at before cutting services to our citizens.
    Congress seems broken and compromise is a dirty word. Power has always had a corrupting effect on people and greed does seem out of control. The gap between the haves and have not is wider than ever.
    I suppose Our Neck of the Woods is right, that things will turn around but citizens have to care, have to vote and have to make their voices heard. I know I have gotten fired up, but that is because I care deeply too and wish for a solution.
    I think it was good that you had your say, I hope I haven't offended anyone and perhaps, I gave someone some food for thought. And again, Echoes From the Hill- good for you for posting facts and showing that you care too.

  29. Well said ~ Bravo ~ someone has to stand up and say what is on their mind. I agree with everything you have said. I am in Canada and I have to say gas prices are higher here as we buy gas not by the gallon but by the litre. Right now it is $1.39 a litre. Our food prices are just ridiculous. A chicken and I mean a small fyer is $9.00. But you can buy one at the same grocery store cooked for $7.00. Does that make sense? Fortunately, we live close to the Windsor-Detroit border so we have to go over and get some of our food. We do buy chicken, turkey etc. in the U.S. ~ much cheaper. I can, I freeze fresh produce when it is cheap in our farming community. We do anything we can to save. At night, we light candles and turn off lights. I don't mind because I love candlelight. Our last hydro-water bill was $350.00 for one month. Where is this all going? Well, I try to live day to day and pray that things will get better. One reader said that the Lord does provide and he does ~ I have to stay positive. Our daughter is graduating from University with an honour roll degree in psychology, no job on the horizon. She may be working in a factory in Windsor.

    Again, well said my friend.
    What happens in the U.S. definitely affects us here in Canada. Sister Countries.

  30. Mr. Sweet and I are on Social Security, Medicare and Supp. Insurance. Our costs are rising but our pay isn't. we are finding it harder and harder to even pay all our bills. Costs of heating, cooling, food, gas, meds, insurance,'s the hardest time we've ever gone thru in our married life. I don't mind saying that if Mr. Obama is elected again, ......

  31. Dear Elaine...You couldn't have said it better!
    On a lighter note, my little two year old niece, Ainsley, was asked if she was a Republican or a Democrat...and, she proudly answered "I'm a Pumpkin". Take it for what it's worth. ;)
    I continue to pray earnestly that God will continue to bless this land that I love.

  32. Oh goodness, what real observations. I have to say here in the UK things are looking equally testing in the months ahead. I know we are lucky compared to many but there is only so much a frugal mum can achieve!! J9x

  33. I think it is :( Food prices rarely go down..packaging is shrinking and has been...I doubt it will change / and may get worse

  34. Obama was asked this in the last debate, and he refused to answer it, even when Candy Crowley (sort of) pressed him on it....

    I hope it isn't the new normal.