Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, March 23, 2009

An strange offshoot of the economy

I know that most of us are feeling the pinch, some more than others. And although I'm the queen of economy and have been due to necessity for years, I've learned some new tricks through reading both blogs and the mainstream media. I've cut back in ways I had thought of, and I've watched most of the people I know do the same.

Many of the economies suggested don't apply. We don't have cable, so we can't cut it. We no longer have cell phones. We rarely use coupons because I don't buy the kind of food that is pushed by the large corporations that provide coupons. I do shop the circulars for fruits and veggies, though. I don't buy in bulk because I have absolutely no place to put the food. And I don't use stores like Costco or Sams Club because I cannot trust myself not to over shop. I know my limits.

We do all the things one does to save energy and have for years. I would rather kill my firstborn than to pay any more for energy. So our house is always cold in winter and hot in summer, we only use cost saving fluorescent bulbs, even in appliances, and we don't run the computer all night long.

When I say we're living about as tightly as one can while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we're always trying to do better. The kids are trained to turn off lights (my screaming helps a lot!) and take short showers. We don't let the water run, even though we live in a place with no water shortages. We're careful, and we do it naturally.

So today, in my blog reading, I came across someone who was talking about his/her own economy measures, and said that for the first time, spent less than $3000 a month for food and expenses. After I picked myself up off the floor, and read it again, and then again, I tried to figure out how a family of three people, all adults, could eat that much. What on earth are they eating? Truffles and chateaubriand? Even that wouldn't cover that much expenditure. What kind of expenses can a person have that would cost thousands of dollars. Gas is expensive, but not that expensive.

The thing is, I know this person in real life, and I have always known that they were well to do, but never, in my wildest imagination did I think that they would economize by "only" spending $3000/month on food and expenses. Even if their charitable giving were included in the expenses, I still would be shocked. That is a LOT of money. This person is a wonderful entertainer, lives in a gorgeous home, is a great friend, and a real humanitarian. Parent to two wonderful and smart, talented kids as well as one poodle, this person is beloved in the community and a great friend. Apparently a very RICH great friend!

Since our family only spends about $500 on food and expenses per month, and I include clothing and all the other kid incidentals in expenses, as well as gas, insurance, shampoo, etc. Yes, we're on the very low end of expenses because that's all I can afford, but how can a family the exact same size as ours spend 6 times as much as we do?

I don't think I could actually spend that much money on food. And I love food and would love to have access to all the gourmet sauces and fancy meats. But honestly I don't think I could spend that much even if money was no object. When we lived in CA and money really wasn't much of an object for much of the time, I never spend anywhere near $1000 on food in a month. Not even close. And I shopped in the best store, Andronicos, for much of our food.

So what say you? Could you spend that kind of money on food and incidentals? Or would it just drive you insane to toss out that much money on food?

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Blogger hschinske said...

But what does "expenses" include? Mortgage? Car payment(s)? Paying off student loans? Health/life/longterm care insurance? Utilities? There's really no way to know if it's an excessive amount without the breakdown.

23/3/09 6:16 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Cut down? To how much? Did someone hit an extra zero when they typed the total? Whoa.

23/3/09 7:51 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I spend way more than I should on food because I'm lazy about grocery shopping and I hate cooking. I get so SICK of thinking about food, that I tend to do what's easy, rather than what is cost effective.

But, I have an extra child, and I still don't come close to even half that for food.

Expenses is a subjective term. I'd be interested to hear what is included in that.

23/3/09 8:18 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I don't know what expenses are either, but the way it was said on the blog, it sounded like expenses weren't mortgage, and I know they don't do car payments, student loans are long since over with if they ever had them (they're my age), and the rest I don't know. Even so, 3000 is a huge amount of money to spend on expenses.

23/3/09 9:14 PM  
Blogger Crazed Mom said...

I can see spennding 1000 a month on food. Kids' lunch money, spouse eating out on work days($4-$8 per day) and the cost of prepared foods. But 3 grand? Nope no way no how.

PS~he did not get the job he interviewed for.

24/3/09 3:52 PM  
Blogger Ranchmom said...

My jaw dropped. No, I can't imagine how even our family of 6 could spend $3,000 per month on food. That's how much we take home each month total! We've been keeping track of our food budget this month and, so far, have spent $450. That works out to about $3 per person per day which seems reasonable to me. 2 of the 3 who are in school get reduced price hot lunch so I suppose I should say it's $460ish so far this month counting what we pay for their meals. The 3rd one takes home lunch due to severe food allergies.

$3,000 for a family of 3 is $33 per person per day. I can't imagine what they are eating!

25/3/09 11:15 AM  
Blogger WillieVW said...

While I myself try really hard to keep our fixed expenses low, I also try really hard not to worry too much about what others can or cannot afford. Sure $3000 seems alot, but if you make $200K/year it is perfectly affordable. My point is we do ourselves a disservice as soon as we start the comparison game. It's just money. Our value as a person is so much more than the limited aspect of dollars and cents. Good for you being so careful to live within your means. You should be proud. And many could learn a valuable lesson form you.

25/3/09 1:57 PM  

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