Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Food Prices Go Up, CPA Blogger Has Crazy, Unrealistic Solutions

I have to say I am a bit offended by Tracy Coenen's article on WalletPop about ways to cut back financially to offset the recent increase in the cost of food. Her suggestions are ridiculous. And, I typically consider myself to be frugal-minded (that doesn't always translate to my spending habits), as I certainly know how to squeeze the most out of a dollar. Tracy cites a study from the US DOL detailing a recent sharp rise in the cost of consumer goods/food. She goes on to state that she feels its not a big deal - that parents/families should start cutting back, saying "First, mom and dad can still save money by cutting out unnecessary things like eating out, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, entertainment outside the home, and making unnecessary trips in the car." Unnecessary things? Clearly this woman has never tried giving up cigarettes or cutting out alcohol. Sometimes after a long day a nice glass of wine is the most cost-effective way to treat yourself. And, just go cold turkey on ciggies? Has this woman ever realized that cigarettes are an ADDICTION?!?

This is my favorite part, "Grocery shoppers should be looking for alternatives that are less expensive that what they've been eating, plain and simple. Families can stretch their food dollars by being creative with leftovers and using less expensive ingredients to bulk up recipes."

Oh, ok Ms. Coenen - that makes sense. Let's replace all the healthy foods that we are trying to give our kids/families that might cost more like fruits, veggies, various meats, whole grains, etc. and find the cheap foods (read: processed, full of trans fats, sugar, sodium, etc.) to save a penny. Why don't you just advocate supporting obesity??

She does go on to point out some smart shopping habits like coupons and planning ahead, but I would still challenge that by saying - if you are so strapped for cash, you've probably canceled your newspaper subscription (forget the coupons!) and rely on your work computer for internet access so, forget having enough time to research online sales & coupons - you need to keep that job, not goofing off!

And, finally, let's talk about time. It takes time, lady. Time to do all this planning, shopping, coupon snipping, walking instead of taking "unnecessary trips in the car," most parents I know don't have that kind of time with jobs, caring for the kids, keeping a house and paying bills. While I think its a good idea, its just not realistic in most people's worlds.

I think there are multiple ways to save $ that can offset the increase in food costs without these suggestions. One way that makes a big impact and doesn't take much time at all is to turn off lights, set the heat back a few degrees, unplug appliances when not in use. For those of you looking for ways to save (for whatever reason) that won't take a chunk of time and really will have an impact on your wallet and possibly the environment, there are tons of Frugal Living blogs out there - read those. They are written by people who know how to "stretch a dollar." They aren't CPAs that is spouting off textbook ways to save $$. They are people who live frugally day in and day out and are willing to share their tried and tested ways. Some of my favorite sites and blogs are these:

Five Cent Nickel
Frugal Living by Frugal Guy
Thrifty Fun
Thrift Store Whore
Money Saving Mom
Mighty Bargain Hunter
Saving Advice
Wise Bread
Bargain Queens

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