Business & Finance Economics

The Recession Budget Stretcher

The economy is slowly making a come back but no matter what anyone chooses to call it, we have been going through a recession.
 From the top to the bottom of the economic ladder, we have all been impacted on some level.
 The good news is that there are some minor adjustments that we can make to help alleviate the strains.
  I think it was on the radio that I recently heard talks of a person who's Food stamps have been cut down to just about 30%.
 The discussion that was taking place was about how she and others in the same predicament were not asking for an increase, they just did not want the cut.
 I agree.
 $400 is not enough to buy food for the moth for a family with children.
 I further agree that $150 is a nearly impossible grocery budget for a family with children.
 The fact everyone is having lees to work with.
  Take a state like Florida for example.
 When people around the country have less disposable income, they are likely to spend less on vacations (shorter trips, less expensive hotels and so on).
 This means that the taxes coming in are less.
 With the current state of the housing market, property taxes coming in have also been reduced.
 If people don't have the funds to pay more taxes, the state can impose and increase taxes but that only reduces likelihood that people will pay.
 If the state does not have money, budgets will have to be cut.
 It's just a fact of life.
  One place you can do more with less is the store.
 Here are a few little tips that can help.
 When times are tough waste is even less desirable.
 Because of this, it is important that you get quality products that will not be ruined before it is fully used.
 This does not just apply to groceries, but to anything that is purchased.
 If you buy the detergent that requires a second wash it is waste and counters the "savings".
    During the few minutes between games today I decided to go grocery shopping.
 I got much of my groceries from Wal-Mart SuperCenter.
 While at the store I noticed a sea of white and blue.
 That's the new packaging color for Great Value, which is the Wal-Mart store brand.
 I've been buying many things from the Great Value (store brand on the food side) and Equate (the store brand for other products) lines for several years.
 My Equate lotion works just like the Lubriderm I used to buy, but I pay about $2 less.
 Now I buy the Great Value Vanilla Twist which tastes just like the Vanilla Oreos I used to buy.
  For many people the hesitation was based on the history of generic brand items which were of lesser quality.
 Now the quality is the same, but many people still buy certain things for their Name Brands.
 While I was in the store, I heard someone complaining about how she was not getting enough money on EBT card (that's the food stamp card) to get what she needs.
 I saw her more than once and observed that we were getting many of the same things: milk, juice, cereal, snacks, frozen pizza, pasta, pasta sauce, tortillas, breakfast items and a few more.
 As we neared the register, I saw that look from her again as she looked at the sea of white and blue in my cart.
 Hers was very colorful: lots of bright reds and other enticing colors.
 In the end eight out of my 28 items were brand names.
 These were items that either did not have a Great Value option or I did not like the Great Value rendition.
  On average, the difference between the store brand and the other brand named product is $0.
50 to $1.
 On some items the difference goes up to $2 or higher.
 I spent $65 on groceries today.
 Based on the price differential on the items that I purchased, I estimate that I saved over $15.
 Most people who know me would say that I am VERY picky, which leads me to believe that the quality and taste of the products that I buy must actually be good, and it's not just my imagination.
  As an organization, I'm not very fond of Wal-Mart.
 Though I have not looked into the company this year, but based on information as recently as 1-2 years ago, they did not treat their employees or suppliers well.
 They were pretty much taking advantage of everyone they dealt with in order to be able to buy things at rock bottom prices and sell it back lower than their competitors could even imagine.
 I don't appreciate that and have refrained from shopping there whenever possible.
    For their customer; Wal-Mart has and continues to step up in a big way.
 The most recent thing they have done for their customers is expand the Great Values line.
 Today, customers have many more options.
 It seemed like almost every item had a Great Value option and more continue to come.
 A while back I saw that Great Value started to carry Vanilla Oreos.
 At Wal-Mart, Oreos are $2.
50 on sale but usually $2.
98 (I think), but under the Great Value brand they are sold for $2 regularly.
 Today I saw that they are making Lactaid.
 Last summer I painfully purchased a half gallon of Lactaid for $4.
 This summer the price has thankfully come back down to $3.
 They don't have the one I use just yet, but I see that Great Value is making Lactaid and it is being sold for $2.
  Store brands are very easy to spot.
 You simply look for the item and brand that you want, and look next to it.
 Most of the time, the name of the store is on the packaging.
 The second step is a side-by-side comparison of the ingredients of the store brand and the brand name you wanted.
 Since they are usually made by the same company, you should find that the list of ingredients is pretty much identical.
 The list should also be in the same order, indicating that the amount for each ingredient is similar in both products.
    In addition to buying store brands, there is also the possibility to save with quantity.
 I was looking at a 16 ounce box of spaghetti that was priced a $1; but next to it was the 32 ounce box for $1.
 Knowing that I will use the entire box before it expires, I can buy the larger box and save.
 Of-course the math is not always that easy, but it is worth it to take a couple seconds and do the math to see if there is an opportunity to save by buying lager.
 Another benefit to this method is that if you buy a double box instead of single, you also save time and other resources by not having to return to the store as often.
 I also understand that money may be an issue for some people.
 In that case I would recommend doing this gradually.
 Instead of buying the larger box of pasta and peanut butter, get some this time and more next week.
 Eventually you will reach the point where you purchase certain things every other trip and can take advantage of the savings.
 Always look for the difference in price and ensure usability before you buy.
  Remember, quantity is another factor that can lead to waste.
 Buying too much can cause a situation where things will be ruined before they are used.
 Larger quantity should only be purchased if it can be consumed during its shelf life or at least frozen to extend shelf life.
 Otherwise it's just paying more for no reason.
 If you're going to go through the trouble of buying extra, it is important to do the math to make sure that there is a saving.
  This is not an endorsement for Wal-Mart or the Great Value brand by any means.
 The intent of this piece was to remind readers of the little steps that can make a big difference.
 My savings today were 25% of what I spent, and I don't have to go shopping next week, because I took advantage of larger size savings where possible.
   Now that lady can look at my cart funny while she complains that her foodstamps don't reach far enough, but I can still buy 25% more.
© 2009 Judi Cinéas

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