Thursday, May 8, 2008

TFT: gas, groceries, gah!!

So I know this topic is old... I've said many times how sick I am of reading/hearing about "can you believe these gas prices?!" everywhere I look. Seriously, I feel like every single time I turn on the news I'm seeing a reporter at a gas station talking about how outrageous the prices are this week. Like we don't know that. I'm so glad you reported that breaking news!!

But it's not going away. And we're not getting used to it, because it's not like the prices just went up and we have to adjust; they keep going up and up and up. And up and up and up. The whole thing is somehow starting to creep in and scare me... scare isn't really the right word I guess... more depress and overwhelm. Just a big fat Ugh every time I think about it. Gas prices in St. Louis are about double what they were last summer when we moved here. Double. And we're still below the national average price around here.
My mom is visiting my grandma in South Dakota this week for Mother's day, and had mentioned how nice it would be if the kids and I drove up to meet them for the weekend. I had been keeping it in the back of my mind, and really was wanting to plan on driving up there and surprise them (Surprise Mom! er... rather, Surprise Mom, we're not coming), thinking how fun that would be. But in the end, even into this week, trying to talk myself into spending almost $200 in gas if I take the bigger comfier vehicle (to have a better chance of surviving 16 hours in the car by myself with the kids) just wasn't working. We already have a couple of driving vacations in the works for this summer and all the money we'll be spending on gas is just sickening (500 miles to Lake Michigan... 800 miles to the South Carolina... thats at least 2600 miles total... which, if I'm doing my math right, at the current gas prices -not even the summer gas prices- would be $4-500 for us to take our family vehicle. That's just the fuel cost of the trip!!)

And don't get me started on groceries. The wholesale price of milk has gone up over 25% in the past year, and eggs almost 60%! Cheese prices have doubled and beef prices have risen over 50%. Even pasta (up 30%), canned fruits and vegetables (up 20%) and other frugal budget staples, are tacking more and more dollars onto our food bill each month.
Ryan heard a report the other day about the fact that the rate of increase of your grocery bill is currently much higher than even the best current savings account interest rates (I can't remember or find the numbers, but the comparison was laughable) with the food inflation only going up... meaning you're better off stockpiling your pantry than putting your money in the bank to spend on groceries later. Experts are predicting the current trend of food prices is going to continue through 2010 before it has a chance of leveling off. What?!! It all leaves me feeling a little grim.

Needless to say, this is all getting me quite a bit more intentional about our grocery shopping lists, watching ads and using coupons. And I've never been real good at that. But I'm trying. And I am getting into the "stockpiling" mindset now... not about everything, not yet to the point of stockpiling three months worth of food, but at least taking full advantage of the sales I see and stocking up what pantry things and frozen things I can fit right now. And thinking it's time we broke down and looked into a spare freezer for storage...

So my question for you is, how are the insane gas prices and grocery prices affecting you (other than just draining your pocketbook)? Are you making changes in the way you drive, the way you buy groceries? What are your thoughts this Thursday?


Jody L. said...

My brother had to sell his SUV and buy a smaller car to drive to work. He was spending $650 a month to drive to work. I remember gas being $.95 when I was in high school.

jessica said...

i drive as little as possible. but you really can't just not drive, it sucks. i am trying not to pay attention to the prices, because i know i can't do anything about it. i am stingy at the grocery store, but that is not a change for me. i hate the grocery store.

Nicole said...

I've been making lists of stuff we need/run out of, and making meals ahead of time (or at least mentally taking note of what meat we have in the freezer for meals... sometimes we end up having leftovers or mac n cheese some nights instead of "real" meals). I also check the grocery store ads before I go and try to buy a few kinds of fruit that are on sale for the week, etc. Like, this week strawberries, grapes and watermelon were on sale... so that is the fruit we have this week. I always buy bananas. The staples... milk, bread, eggs, cheese... those I try to buy at whatever store they're on sale (so if they're on sale at Polly's- that's where I grocery shop that week). We have an extra freezer in the basement so we do buy extra bagels/bread/meat etc. when its on a great sale and we freeze it for later weeks.

I've been trying really hard to stick to my grocery lists ONLY... no extras. And snacky stuff... I buy whats on sale rather than buying Wheat Thins just b/c I want them.

Gas... UGh. I haven't really cut back my driving because of prices, but I do try to plan errands on days that I know I'll be near those stores rather than making a complete separate trip.

The price increases freak me out. Soon groceries and gas are going to be eating up the same percentage of our income as our mortgages are.. if they don't already!!!

Gabe & Heidi's P.A.D. said...

I felt the pain yesterday when I filled up our car for almost $4 a gallon! I've never spent $60 to fill it before and I don't like the idea of having to do it again.
I think part of the solution to these rising prices will be to buy and think locally. There's really no reason why we need to buy things that are shipped or flown around the world. Or even driven across the country. We'll be going to the farmer's market to get our produce this week. Since we aren't big milk drinkers or meat eaters, the rise in groceries hasn't really been something I've noticed yet. Not to say it won't.

Anonymous said...

Matt has been talking for awhile (warning me, since I'm the shopper) that food inflation is the worst it's been in a long time. And I've definitely noticed at the store. I'm trying to do a better job of sale shopping, which I haven't been great at for the last couple of years, though I am willing to stockpile a couple months' worth of things we eat a lot of when it's on sale :)

I always shop with a list (and don't usually deviate too much), and I've found I spend much less at the store when I plan a week's worth of meals before doing the shopping.

I was thinking about a post like this one...glad you wrote it!

Robyn said...

I have been trying to get better at planning a grocery list and sticking to it, since it is my biggest budget buster, but it is so hard. I have seriously cut back on driving. I am lucky there is a library, grocery store and post office in walking distance.

Amie R. said...

We will be moving downtown in our new city, so I am hoping that will mean I can walk to things more. Also, we joined a local farm for produce, but we will have to drive out there to get it every week. I guess the good part is the most driving we will be doing will be under 10 miles since it is a smaller town.

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