Today my husband and I went to the Florida State Fair. We were there for 4 1/2 hours. We spent nearly 200 dollars. I remember when I could go to the fair as a teen and 20 or 30 dollars went a very long way. You could get in, eat until you were bursting, ride and play games on the midway and buy things to bring home. This got me thinking about how much we spend now versus back in the day. It is one of those times I feel like I am getting old. Here we go: ” I can remember when…”
5 dollars could buy 2 cheeseburgers, 2 orders of fries, 2 sodas and a box of McDonaldland cookies. The idea was that you could get a quick meal for a low price. They were convenient and cheap. In 2014 the prices in fast food restaurants are terrifying. You can spend almost as much at McDonald’s or KFC for two people as you might at some full service restaurants. I can attest to this after recently going to Denny’s. Mind you, Denny’s doesn’t carry the price tag of Olive Garden but it is a restaurant where you are waited on at your table, your meal is cooked when you order it and served to you on a plate. Now I go in to fast food joints and look at the dollar menu realizing if I want my money to go further I will need to order 2 items that wouldn’t fill up a ten year old and bring a soda from home.
I picked up my smoking habit at the ripe old age of 13. I could buy cigarettes for around 80 cents a pack. They were actually sold in vending machines (for $1.00) then too and you did not need ID to purchase although there was one store up the street that would sell them to me because they assumed I was picking them up for one of the adults in my household. Over the years I have watched the prices go up and have probably spent enough money to have retired on. They roughly cost $6.00 a pack now. I am determined to cut back this year and hopefully given time, quit altogether. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford them once they cost $18 a pack.
As a child I loved going to movies. My family would give me $5.00 to take with me. They would drop me off and I could get my ticket, a soda, popcorn or a hot dog and candy and have money left over to spend on other things. The operative word is could. Even in high school movies were affordable entertainment although by this time the snack prices were on the rise. My husband and I went to see the new version of “Carrie” last October. By the time we bought 2 tickets, a small popcorn and two small sodas our bill was $38.00!! That was roughly 40 dollars to watch a 90 minute movie. It is no wonder that Netflix is thriving and movie theaters aren’t doing nearly the business they used to. This makes me sad because I really enjoy going to watch movies on the big screen. I also like being able to buy groceries so movies now are far and few between. While we are talking about groceries…
Have you really looked at how much food has risen in price over the years? Even as a young 20 something I could have lots of food in my apartment. It was within my budget and it was all name brand products. Now with two of us working I have to look at generic and store brand items while I am shopping to make sure we have enough food to last the week. Even using this smart shopping to make our money go further is a horror show at the check-out. I spent 80 dollars recently and had 3 bags with 3 or 4 items in each. Three of the products purchased were store brand yogurt, macaroni and cheese and a gallon of milk (the price of milk alone is enough to cause you to have an aneurysm). I jumped up on the counter screaming 80 dollars for 3 half empty bags? Do you think I am made of money!?!?!?!? I deserve fair treatment and prices NOW!!!!! The cashier looked worried as I was lost in this fantasy of trying to get fair prices and meekly gave me my total again. I paid her and left without incident although I must have had a crazy lady look on my face because now the bag-boy looked scared to take the items out to my car. I guess he was afraid I would hit him on the head with my purse and shove him in the trunk.I stand there some weeks in the store deciding if the household needs meat or vegetables (the only thing I make sure I have every week is coffee and I make sure my husband has lunch meat for sandwiches to take to work. I don’t eat breakfast or lunch most days). There are weeks we have pasta everyday and although tasty it can get boring. I don’t know how families with children do it. As adults we can skip some meals but children need 3 meals a day plus snacks. I need to learn to be one of those super-coupon shoppers. Yeah, that’ll happen.
The biggest problem is that while the price of everything around us continues to rise our paychecks do not. We are not given fair cost of living increases on a yearly basis. I worked for a non-profit in another state for 5 years with exactly one raise. After 5 years I was being paid a whopping 7.75 an hour (this was around 3 years ago and my husband wasn’t being paid much more). You cannot live on that so we made the move to Florida for better opportunity. I can think back to being a teen in my first apartment and being able to afford rent, food, clothes, car insurance, electric and phone and still having money to go out. I even was able to put some into savings every week. Now there are two of us working and life is lived on a tight budget versus back in the day when a dollar went a long way. It is official, I have turned into my grandparents with this musing. Have a wonderful week and be safe.