The economy: What are you doing about it?

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

The times, they are a-changin’ and not necessarily for the better. I have a lot of hope for the future of the economy, but I’m also taking a very cautious view of things. I think now is the time for us to buckle down and really take stock of our spending. We need to cut expenses where we can, and start doing things for ourselves when possible.

Seems I’m not the only person feeling that way, either. Money Saving Mom wrote about the price of wheat going up and how that will affect a lot of things: (the

While I’m not one to jump on “the-sky-is-falling” hyped-up bandwagons, I have heard from multiple reputable sources that wheat prices will be increasing substantially very soon. This price increase will likely have a strong trickle-down effect since so many things one normally buys at the store contain wheat.

How much flour is in the stuff we eat? A lot, unless you or one of your family members have Celiac Disease. It’s not just in bread, but it’s in your Fruit Loops and your gravy and cake and cookies and, well, you get the idea.

If gas prices also rise as have been predicted, your $3-4 box of cereal may start being a $6-8 box of cereal. What to do? Make your own Fruit Loops? Start teaching your kids about how wonderful oatmeal is? How far are you willing to take it? And if we stop buying cereal, what happens to the people who are employed at the cereal companies? Do we think about ourselves, or think about the bigger picture?

I think the key answer to this goes back to my  “nothing is absolute” post. I could sit here and tell you to grow your own wheat and get some goats for milk, but if you don’t have the space, time and/or knowledge to raise goats and wheat my solution isn’t going to work for you. I can tell you to buy Fruit Loops with a coupon at Publix when they have buy one get one free day, but if you don’t have a Publix, that doesn’t help either.

I think now is the time for us to be making plans of what works for our own families.  Home Ec 101 will be here with advice and suggestions. But start making your plan now. Have hope for the future, but start planning now.



12 Comments

  1. […] of her commenters are so rude because she offers solid advice.  Our own Bad Bad Ivy writes on Home Ec 101 about the economy.  She told me recently in a phone call that the price for 50 pounds of flour went from $15 a year […]

  2. Milehimama on February 29, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I think planning ahead is key.

    Right now, while you are able to, practice living off $20 for food a week; practice maybe one super cheap recipe a week; give your kids powdered milk once in a while so it’s not totally foreign. Challenge yourself, make a game of it, and you’ll discover suddenly that you are more self sufficient!

    We have powdered milk in our hurricane box, and many beans, etc. on the shelf. I make a point of exposing the family to them so that in tough times it’s not just one more depressing thing – one more deprivation – but more “normal”. I’d also start stocking up now!

    Recently we tried a lentil mix as a sub for ground beef – and the kids liked it! So that’s one more place that it won’t kill us to pinch pennies if we need to.

  3. Mrs.W on February 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    I can happily say that I don’t consume much wheat at all. No bread, no cereal… I stick to veg and whole-grains here. And because this has been my lifestyle for quite some time, I’m used to it. Spelt pasta is delish. Arrowroot powder is my gravy thickener. Whole grains and legumes are my carbs of choice, along with lots of veg, dairy products and careful protein choices. And while things are going up all around, an increase in wheat- and wheat-products are not effecting me too much.

    However I’ll admit that maintaining a flourless life has meant careful use of my food budget, it’s been a more expensive way to eat–perhaps the increase in wheat prices may just increase the demand for alternative grains, thus lowering the price for me. Yay!

  4. Bellen on February 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    No, I didn’t live thru the Depression, just some really lean times in the 60’s,70’s,80’s etc. What we did was emphasize the POSITIVE. We lived within 10 miles of 2 state parks – swimming, hiking, picnicing. If we went after 6pm there was no entrance fee. Also no fee in the off season, so in fall we had a close up view of leaves, in spring close up of new growth, winter – ID’d tracks in the snow, went sledding. Since the parks were sparsely used off season we could also practice hitting a ball, throw a football, fly a kite.
    I had my kids help grow sprouts (Who wants to rinse the seeds?!), container garden (did the radishes come up yet?). Growing your own meant we all ate what we grew – even if we didn’t like it much. We have developed a fondness for chard.
    We played board games inside, and catch, tag, rubber horseshoes, badmitten, outside. By taking walks we met the neighbors, the neighbor’s pets, were able to learn the names of all the local birds, flowers, treees, even the clouds!
    Ask yourself, spouse & kids how to do whatever with what you have on hand. My boys learned how to make simple clothing repairs, household repairs, names of tools, etc.
    For special outings, we got out the map, made circles with 10, 25 & 50 mile radius of home. Then we checked what was available to see and do. Even that would provide an evening’s worth of entertainment.
    The library was our savior – books for pleasure, how-tos, travel guides, biographies, you name it we read it. Gave us lots of info and lots of ideas AND taught us that we were not the only ones with limited income.
    It’s all in the outlook – lean times do not have to mean deprevation, just preparation. By the way, my husband and I still live this way.

  5. Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net on February 29, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I’m going to be trying my hand at gardening this year. Hopefully it will go well….

  6. N. & J. on February 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    My fiance and I actually started our own blog to address how we are finding a balance. We have started trying to make some of our own products like soap, shaving cream, and candles. I bought a bike and now ride to work instead of drive. We buy as much as possible from bulk bins and some things we can’t we just don’t buy anymore. We even found a local dairy that would deliver raw milk so we can make our own butter, butter milk and cream. We would love to own our own cow or have a huge garden but since we live in a tiny apartment we do what we can.

    N.

    http://badhuman.wordpress.com

  7. Lisa- Domestic Accident on February 28, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Okay, I am a total nervous nelly (I actually have a stockpile of medicine in case of a pandemic, seriously), but I’m not really worried about the economy for some unknown reason. I know gas is becoming more and more outrageous, but I think it’s sort of beneficial because it’s making me think twice about running errands 5x/wk. I’m consolidating my store runs, being more mindful of rushing here and there. How many activities do my kids have to be in? And as far as food prices, I am finally paying much more attention to how much we waste. Kids are getting much less in their cups and I’m pouring less down the drain. My grocery bill hasn’t gone up because I’m finally being hard core about meal planning and stretching leftovers instead of tossing them. This may sound like crazy talk, but it’s reinforcing my desire to live simply and continue simplifying. I like that.

    Of course, this may be because financially we are fine for now. Maybe in another year or two, I’ll be singing a different song.

  8. Frugal Dad on February 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    We’ve been trying to convert to buying the large bags of generic cereals at Walmart and storing them in plastic cereal containers. They tend to keep longer and taste just as good to us.

  9. Rebecca on February 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Don’t think I could make my own Fruit Loops. :0) But we have definitely cut back on breakfast cereals. I purchased a bunch of wheat a year ago and didn’t know then that the prices would rise. I still have quite a bit of that wheat in storage (wheat keeps for years) and have been milling it as necessary, but we still need white flour for lightening up the bread a bit.

    But perspective helps here a lot. Yes, we now have to pay a lot more for milk, cheese, flour and other goods…but we still have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes when the blessings that we have are harder to get, we appreciate them even more.

  10. chocolatechic on February 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I started stocking up on flour right before the prices began to rise. That was about 2 months ago. Flour has doubled since then. I stopped purchasing milk about 7 years ago, and we use powdered. We eat a lot of oats, but oats have risen right along with flour.

    We don’t eat a lot of pre-packaged foods, and we are cutting back. However, before gas/milk/flour started rising, we were already living frugally.

    I honestly don’t know how much more we can take.

    We keep our house at 64º. I save gray water from the washing machine to flush toilets, I don’t purchase chips or other snack foods, and any treats that are made, are made from scratch.

    I do a container garden as we live in the city, and our soil is bad. Nothing but weeds seem to flourish here.

  11. Meredith from Merchant Ships on February 28, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Sound advice.

    Living in urban areas like ours makes it easy–and harder–to know where to cut back, doesn’t it?

    On the one hand, we are surrounded by CSAs and farms, but with gas going up to $4 a gallon, isn’t it better for me just to walk to Kroger?

    Should I sell my house and move to one with a better spot for gardening, or would I do better to stay close to my husband’ workplace?

    I think about these things a lot.

  12. hsgbdmama on February 28, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I have our family into a retreat mode right now, cutting back on as much unnecessary spending as possible and looking at what else we can cut.

    For cereal, which we don’t eat a lot of, either store brands or Malt-O-Meal have sufficed fine. In fact, store (or private label) brands have sufficed just fine for a lot of things.

    I’ve canceled several subscriptions and have retained only the few which provide a lot of benefit.

    I’m also starting to plan for summer, so we don’t have to be out and about a lot … we’re going to find contentment at home again this summer. 🙂

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