“How can I plan for the future if I can’t afford today?”

So if you make money
You gotta save money
It goes fast, no cash . . .

 Ah, sing it, John Reuben.

It’s no surprise that a money post should emerge sooner or later. I mean, turn on any news channel, and the economic status of our nation is 9 times out of 10 the talk of the show (and NEWSFLASH: We’re all DOOMED!). However, I guess it is a bit of a surprise that it would take me this long to talk about money, considering that said news channels have been broadcasting this information for the past 8 months or so. However, as the nation’s (and world’s, for that matter) economy gets worse and worse, it only seems fitting that I should blog about it.

I should preempt this by saying that, as a couple, J and I are relatively off financially, especially for a young couple just starting out. I mean, we’re not millionaires or anything, but we make a pretty good living. Plus, both of our jobs are jobs that are relatively secure despite the high rate of unemployment, unless things get so bad that nursing homes and schools have to start downsizing (which I guess is not totally out of the question). However, even though we’re making okay salaries, we have also spent A LOT of money this year. A LOT. We used to have about $25,000 in savings between the two of us, but that money has been flushed down the tubes. However, I guess this is to be expected when you look at everything we have purchased/spent money on this year: a wedding, a honeymoon, a HOUSE, appliances, and furniture. Plus, the expenses don’t stop coming once you have those things: every month, we still have a mortgage, oil bill, electric bill, internet bill, TV-satellite bill, gas for our cars, and groceries. Lots on groceries.

Groceries . . . I guess that is from where this post stems. It seems as though every week, J and I plan our grocery list to a T. We ALWAYS make a list, we ALWAYS plan our meals for the week (sometimes to the day). In the beginning, we used to just plan our meals regardless of the ingredients, but then, as bills piled up and we realized we needed to cut our spending, we started planning based on what was on sale in the flier. I started clipping coupons. We started looking for deals. My “going green” also helped: now that I’ve been cleaning mainly with water, vinegar, and baking soda, we haven’t spent any money on cleaning supplies, hardly (a bottle of Lysol here and there). Last week we went to the grocery stored armed with 10 coupons, our bonus card, a (relatively) small list, and the Giant sales flier in hand . . . and walked away $120 lighter.

WTF, mate? How can we work so meticulously to save grocery money and yet still spend so much EACH WEEK? We don’t buy anything extra – we don’t stock our pantries. We buy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a few extra snacks (but not much!). By the end of the week, we’re literally scrounging for food; our cupboards are bare. Now, this week I did stock up on extra chicken and hamburger that was on sale, because we will use it for future dinners. However, every week when our bill is high, we say, “Well, we bought toilet paper and dog food this week, so it will be less next week.” But every single week there is something on there, something necessary, that makes our bill seem high. Or maybe it’s all the stuff added up? And then we think, how are we going to afford groceries when we have kids? It is just the two of us right now (plus a bag of dog food and some dog bones once a month) . . . what happens when our family doubles? 

We try not to spend money on superfluous items. We do eat out occasionally, but it’s not like we go on shopping sprees every week or even once a month or every two months. We do have some luxuries, like satellite television and an SUV, but it’s not like we’re trying to spend extra money. Yet I don’t feel like we’re saving anything . . . we live paycheck to paycheck . . . where does all the money go?

I know there are ways that we can decrease our spending – cell phone packages, satellite television, no eating out, no brand name foods, no alcohol. And yet, I don’t think we’re willing to cut out that stuff. We like our lifestyle the way it is, is that so bad? Hmmm . . . I guess when the Great Depression II hits, we’ll find out, huh?

John Reuben, I need to take your advice a little more, I guess.

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