The Chronic Consumer

I buy things — all the time!

Coping with Cutbacks

I consider myself relatively lucky since I only have one child to feed. That certainly makes things easier on us when money is tight like it has been for the past several months. I can’t imagine what kinds of struggles families of 4, 5, or 6 people are dealing with as the economy continues to stagnate.

But yes, even for a family of 3, there are numerous budget cutbacks that we’ve had to deal with. For example, we don’t have any “fun money” to speak of at all anymore, which means we haven’t been going out to dinner or even out for ice cream at all. We haven’t been going bowling, miniature golfing, or go karting either — all activities that we usually love to do during the summer. And worst of all, we’re not going to go on a vacation this year.

These aren’t the only cutbacks we’ve had to cope with. My husband is not getting any overtime at work, so his paychecks have been considerably smaller than we’re used to. Everyone always says don’t count on overtime pay when calculating your budget, but he had been getting steady overtime for more than 5 years, so it was hard not to take that extra money into account.

In addition, we’ve had to cut our grocery budget by $20 per week in order to be able to afford a basic cable package. That kind of sucks, but I’ve just been eliminating junk food and snacks, and buying generic brands when possible, so I’ve made do thus far.

Hopefully some areas of the economy will start to recover soon. I know the housing rescue bill that President Bush just signed will provide much-needed assistance to qualified home owners and mortgage lenders, so maybe that will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of us.

I’m hoping and praying that it does, because I want to get back to my carefree days of shopping sprees and impulse purchases!