It is indeed fascinating that the government’s measure of inflation doesn’t include food and energy; nonetheless, most Americans, after a visit to the super market or after filling their gas tanks, are aware that their paychecks don’t go as far as they used to, even as little as five years ago. With food and gasoline prices escalating at light speed, folks are reexamining their lifestyle expenditures. Lifestyle, which is a way of living one’s life based upon one’s attitudes and values, is manifested, not only by what we buy, but when and where we purchase the stuff we feel we must have – versus what we actually need.
Commercialism, as shamelessly practiced on TV or in magazines, caters to and fosters our proclivities toward purchasing all that unnecessary stuff we are compelled to spend our hard-earned money upon. It borders on addiction. Some folks argue strenuously the need for a smart phone, which, among all of its other capabilities, a.k.a. apps, comes ridiculously close to having the ability to sharpen #2 Eberhard pencils. What’s wrong with just being able to make a phone call?
Admittedly, long gone are the rabbit ears used to pull in local TV programming. Now, we need cable or satellite. One cable company extols the virtues of their system over that of their competitor’s - who have ostensibly laid fiber-like conductors versus copper, all over the land, which improves reception and internet speed. Satellite companies – who essentially use the same satellites, tout their system as being better than their competitor’s. With cable or satellite, we can now receive literally hundreds and hundreds of programs; and, untold numbers of movies. By virtue of humanity’s inability to effectively do more than two things at the same time, science has given us the DVR. All of this capability comes joyfully to us at great cost and diminution of our wallets. It’s no wonder our pay checks don’t go as far as they did. To staunch the unnecessary flow of dollars from our pocket books, here are some money-saving suggestions:
- If you have a computer at home, resist buying that tablet or super smart phone. Do you really, really need it?
- When you go grocery shopping, why not bring coupons for the items you actually need. A coupon doesn’t save you money, it just means you’ll spend less. Two sites you may use are www.coupons.com or www.couponsuzy.com.
- Do you really need to automatically fill your gas tank once a week. This rule may not apply to all, but maybe put only $20 in at a time. How long does it take to put gas in your car? Or you could join one of those big box outlet stores which also have gas pumps. Many sell their gas for up to 10₵ a gallon less than surrounding stations.
- Look for local banks or credit unions that don’t charge fees of any kind – they’re out there!
- Just because your car loan is for 36 or even 60 months, doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a new one - when the loan matures. Today’s cars, if properly maintained, can last 8 years or more.
- If you like to read, join your local library. Their books are current and don’t cost anything – unlike the cost of books at the book store or the cost of those which can be downloaded to your costly reader.
- Rent that movie and microwave your own popcorn. Have you been to a movie complex lately?