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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Economy fatigue?

Ok, you've been affected by the economy..... like everyone else. So you decide to go back to basics and start living a more frugal lifestyle. You get the insulation done on your house.

You make the windows more energy efficient by covering them with plastic and tape to keep out the drafts.

You change all the light bulbs in the house to the energy efficient kind.

You cut the thermostat down in winter and up in summer.

You've spent a great deal of time and effort doing these things. For all your efforts you manage to shave about $25 off your monthly utility bill. Yea!

Then you see the announcement on the news that the utility company is raising the monthly utility bills by $15 a month. They are also being allowed to charge additional amounts based on what the suppliers are charging. It's called passing along the costs. When you get the new utility bill, it seems your bill has actually increased something like $35 a month with the added pass along costs. Hmm.... after all your efforts your bill has actually risen more than you saved. That's not good. How much would it have risen if you had not done all the work?

You can't figure out what else you can do to cut the bill down further at the moment so you decide to see where you might cut down expenses in other places. You put in a lot of research time.

Well alrighty now..... you come up with the idea to insulate the water heater. This should save some money. Am I right?

You also buy a low flow shower head and sink faucets. You start washing with cold water and bathing as quickly as possible so you can shave $15 off your water and utility bill.

You get your water bill. You open it to see how nice it is to have a lower bill...... and to your amazement it's actually higher by $35 more than it was last time. What?! You question whether the bill is accurate? Now just how is it that one person.... taking only 2 minute showers in a low flow shower; who washes only 4 loads of clothes a week; who flushes only 3 (4?) times a day.... can possibly get a water bill of $70? It used to be only $35! Well it's called passing along the costs from suppliers. The sewer company and the waste water treatment have also gotten a raise because their costs have risen. This accounts for the increase in the bill.

Well dang it! You'll have to figure out other ways to cut back on the water bill.... maybe later.... it will require more research time.

So you decide to cut back expenses on food. No more eating out! From now on it's eat at home only. So you start watching sales ads very carefully and spending lots of time planning nutritious meals. You start making weekly or monthly meal plans. You learn to shop only from a list, buying only what is on sale. This takes time to learn and time to do.

To save even more money on your grocery bill you start collecting and using coupons. You've never used coupons before and suddenly realize it's time consuming but worth it if you can save half on the grocery bill.

You learn about register rewards, bucks back receipts, catalina coupons, and combining coupons with sales with rebates. All this time and effort is done to get as much as you can for as little as possible. With some very careful planning (and plenty of research time) you save over half on the bottom line of your grocery receipt.

You decide to go even further. You spend time researching and realize that if you buy basic foods you can do more scratch cooking. Cooking from scratch takes time. Much more time than grabbing something you can zap in the microwave.

For all your efforts and time there is a nearly full freezer of all types of foods you can quickly make a meal from. This means you're probably saving over half on your grocery bill. Am I right?

You are spending time cooking and eating healthy foods instead of eating out at restaurants several times a month. This feels good doesn't it?

It's not been easy to get to this point in saving at the grocery. All this work to save money. But then you realize the foods you bought just a couple of months ago (using your new skills at couponing and saving) are costing more. The companies are passing along the costs too. One can of green beans that cost only 29 cents a few months ago now costs 99 cents. It's the same with many of the foods you buy to be a more frugal cook.

I could give many more examples of changing to fugal spending. Like shopping at thrift stores for clothes only to realize the used clothing prices are going up and up. Or staying home to watch movies on cable, instead of a night out at the moves, only to see the cost of cable go up too.

You've spent a great deal of time learning new frugal skills.... which also take time to do. Not only have you managed to work a full time job but you have an added full time job of being a frugal person too. Yes, it's like having two full time jobs.

But then you start to come out of the saving and living frugal fog... you look around you.... what's this?

You realize that you've neglected other things in order to spend time learning and doing what's necessary to live frugally. You look around and realize you've become a hoarder! In your effort to become very frugal; you don't throw things away as quickly as you did before. You might need it someday. Why throw it away today when you might need it next week or next month? That would be wasteful spending.... right?

As you come more out of the frugal living fog; you realize your time has been consumed with learning to be frugal and you've neglected many things that you would never have neglected before the economy started taking a nose dive. Time has become your enemy.

Frugal living just doesn't seem like it's worth the effort anymore. As you spend more, and more, and more time learning frugal living ways you may start to feel deprived and frustrated. I call it economy fatigue. The definition would be something like this..... Spending enormous amounts of time to learn to cut expenses only to realize that your effort was in vain because increased costs beyond your control have worked faster than you did.

In other words you spend lots of time to cut your bills down but the suppliers are charging more than you have saved with all your efforts. Manufacturers don't have to find time to charge more... they just change the price sticker and are done with it. Leaving you with trying to figure out how to find more time to cut expenses even further.

Yes, learning to be frugal is time consuming. Living frugal is time consuming. For all your efforts you may get economy fatique. After all; for many years we have been living in a go, go, go, hurry, hurry, hurry, spend, spend, spend society and it's not easy going back to a more basic slower lifestyle. Just hang in there.... it will get easier.

I've been a frugal person my whole life. Not so much by choice but by necessity. I'm even feeling the effects of economy fatique. Why? Because it's really hard to create a budget when the costs of everything keeps changing. It's hard to budget amounts when you don't know what the amounts are. So, just like you, I will be telling myself.... hang in there.... it will get easier.

1 comment:

kathi said...

WOW. you said EXACTLY what i was feeling.. Seems the more you try to save and economize, the faster "they" raise the costs.. hang in there, somehow it's GOT to get better. I hope. soon? maybe?