The root of our economic problems
There’s been a lot of talk lately about what’s stalling the economy. In my opinion, it’s summed up in one sentence my wife uttered the last time we were dining out: “This bill is half a week’s worth of groceries!”
You see we don’t eat out unless we’re out of town and it’s absolutely essential. And therein lies the problem: if you’re like us, you’ve pretty much done a scalpel-like cutback on all unnecessary expenses. And because of that, consumer spending has died…and may never come back. At least from my generation.
Examples? We have plenty:
1. When we’re at home we NEVER eat out. We will have takeout on occasion, but when a simple trip to a local restaurant runs at least $100+ for 4, no thank you.
2. We don’t take vacations. Partly I’m to blame because I’m a homebody. And partly because whether we board our dogs or take them with us, it’s a pain. So, we daytrip a lot to regattas and bike races. But that’s about it.
3. When we do go out of town and absolutely have to stay overnight, we’ve found a Hampton Inn fares just as well as a Four Seasons.
4. Nancy’s car is almost 10 years old and as long as it’s working, there’s no plans to get a new one.
5. Clothes shopping? Nope. We’re not slaves to fashion and we have all we need.
6. Movies? We haven’t been a movie theater since the FIRST Spiderman. Even though Netflix and cable aren’t cheap, they’re cheaper than a trip to the nearest cinema.
7. If we can substitute a store brand for a name product at the supermarket, we do so. We don’t scrimp on food, but we’ll save as much as we can at the Costco and Safeway.
Now granted, in our formative years, we did spend a fair amount. And we will spend a good bit on our hobbies.
But, beyond that, we’ve really tightened our budget. Why? Well, maybe we’ve reached a point where we enjoy what we do have, but don’t need anything else. Or maybe as we’ve gotten older we’ve simply gotten cheaper.
But, above all, spending less just feels like the prudent thing to do. And if the economy is depending on folks like us, that’s a real problem.