Several weeks ago the result of a survey taken of millions of Americans to ascertain any economic difference in their well-being caused by our recent (or current) recession , were aired over CNN, the local news, and on the Sunday talk shows almost at the same time, leading the listener to believe that this must be huge news.
The result of this big survey indicated that the well-to-do families showed an increase in their financial picture of some 26-28 percent while the poorer, you and me households, suffered a loss of 4 percent. Who did this surprise? My sainted Papa told me many years ago simply that it was a fact of life that “the rich get richer and the poor gets poorer.” So it was no surprise to me.
The official reason for the increase by the more affluent households was that they were more liable to be invested in the stock market.
If you were included in the people who showed a decrease in your net worth, you would be wise to consider how you can not only regain that loss but to make some additional gains. It is always important that you realize just how much of your money goes where.
Study your budget, looking for any place where a reduction can be taken in the outgo allocated to that part of the budget. Obviously, installment loans or certain insurance premiums may not be places that you can change amounts but there are many other opportunities.
Food is one of the categories that lends itself to reduction. It is not wise to force your family into meals that are not nutritious, but with planning and research, a healthy, nutritious meal can usually be served at a reduced price. It is important that family members enjoy their food but less expensive ingredients can usually be substituted without any decrease in taste or quality.
Education is a key factor in reducing your food budget. As you walk down the aisle in the grocery store, take note of the many different brands of the same item. Also take note of the price differential.
It is not wise to make your choice based on price alone, but if your family likes the cheaper brand as much as they like the more expensive one, you are ahead on that particular item. If you are considering changing over to a less expensive brand, read the ingredients listed on both packages before making a change to be sure you would be purchasing a more or less identical product.
If there is any one brand that seems to please your family more than the others, it is probably wise to stick with that brand even if it is more expensive.
If your goal is to compensate for the 4 percent loss due to the downturn, there are many ways other than food where you can recover that percentage.
Overall, what you eat may be the most important item in your budget. Unless you are absolutely forced to do so, do not forego the pleasure of food.
If you are alone, take the challenge yourself. The lone participant has a distinct advantage over a larger family unit as there is nobody else he has to please.
If your family reacts with more enthusiasm to a specific goal, your choices are almost unlimited ranging from planning for a new car or a super vacation or college football games this fall or a Christmas get away. Children (including big children) tend to make more of an effort in saving where a definite goal is in sight.
This is a made to order opportunity to teach children the value of money and that it should be used in a positive way.
Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org