Thursday, February 24, 2011

The "Pinch"

On the way home from work I listen to some of the "drive time" radio stations.

One is an AM talk radio show.  She discusses national and local issues so I flip back and forth to her if she's discussing something interesting.  She often poses questions that make me say ("Well...Duh?").  Like the one she asked yesterday. 

"At what point will Americans feel that gas prices are too high and "revolt".  (IE: demand change in our government policies.)  Does anyone else notice how the word "revolt" has suddenly become a popular lexicon in the mainstream media?

I listened to a few of the callers throw out actual numbers like "$5.00 dollars a gallon".  (Don't people understand that there's not a magic number?)

What I mean to say is this.  The point when something begins to hurt is different for everyone.  I think about it as "The Pinch". 

Get "Pinched" long enough and then you start to say "Ouch".  Guess what?  "This actually hurts!"  I need to change my habits so the "Ouch" is less.

There are people out there who are wealthy enough that nothing that's happened in that last few years has affected them in the slightest.  It's mostly just a curiosity. 

And there are also people out there who are now riding bikes, motorcycles, scooters and I'm sure, taking public transportation for the first time in their lives.

I drive through an affluent section of town on my way into work.  BMW's,  Jaguar's,  Lexus...they're everywhere.  I always note the price at the pumps as I drive through.  At least 10-15 cents per gallon more than in my hometown.  And you know that people who own cars like that, they aren't filling up with regular gasoline!  The gas stations are always full of cars pumping away.  Convenience.  Money is not an issue for folks like that.  (Good for them!  This isn't a criticism, just observation).

I also drive through a more "poor" section too.  I'm always astonished how the prices are also higher than what I pay.  (And "Yes" people are filling up there too.) 

I hit Gasbuddy when I'm due to fill up.  To me, it's important that I make an effort to save a few pennies if I can.  Gasbuddy was telling me (again) that in NC the best local prices were in my town.  Since I was below a half a tank, I thought I'd fill up on the way home. 

Gosh, they were busy.  Seems like everybody else checked out Gasbuddy too.  There were cars waiting in line to fill up.  Not long lines, (a car "waiting" behind a car "pumping" kind of thing), but still...it gave me a shiver.

I was a kid in the 70's.  The only thing I knew during the recession of the 70's was that our plates were "even" and Dad could only go to the pumps on certain days.  We ate alot of rice and pasta dishes and Dad got a big huge book called The Victory Garden that I loved to thumb through.  Dad took a portion of our sideyard and turned it into a garden for a few years. 

What comes around goes around.

We've felt "The Pinch" since 2008.  Both SM's and my income have dropped dramatically.  I got my W-2 a few weeks ago and I made more money ten years ago than I did last year.

"Ouch"

With oil prices going up, impacting food and services, what new levels of "ouch" are out there and coming up that we haven't planned for?

Will my future offer more cutbacks at work?  Unemployment?  Will we see rationing of food and gasoline? 

I'm not a kid anymore "thumbing" through my Dads picture book.  I'm an adult responsible for my family.  But I care about others too.  My neighbors, my coworkers.

I notice people seem to be just plodding along.  Am I the only one putting in a new garden?  Outside of the few that have been gardening all along, I don't see anyone new doing this in my neighborhood.

Obviously "The Pinch" can't be very bad yet because, while I do see and hear some people responding to some of their "Ouches", I get the overall feeling that people are in denial.

The New Normal...(God, I hate that phrase)...but it's true.  The gravy days of the last 20-30 years are gone.  For me anyway.  I have a new standard of living.  A new reality.

Do You?

7 comments:

  1. I've made a concerted effort to consolidate my errands. Now we only venture out twice a week to town. It does help.

    More and more folks are seeing the need to grow their own. You're just ahead in the game. ;0)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We've always lived carefully-we've had to....hubby's retirement pension JUST covers expenses with enough left over for our first love-travel. Gas prices will affect prices in so many areas, it's mind-boggeling. We're lucky that a REALLY good time for us is a walk or a bike ride or time spent in the garden. All cheap...
    I loved your observations on how casual people are with fill-ups. I always marvel at folks filling up at a station and JUST DOWN THE BLOCK, it's a quarter a gallon cheaper. I don't think many people really check prices...could be laziness, or habit, or they just don't care? Wish I could be so casual...........

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent post Tami. I couldn't agree more. I don't listen to main stream news media, so the "revolt" terminology was very interesting to me. I wonder exactly what it is they have in mind. Of course personally, I think the mainstream media is part of this nation's problem! ;)

    DH & I been concerned about the US's future for a long time. Having taken two pay cuts last year, with less work available on top of that, we do feel the pinch. That is, of course, why we're trying to build a homestead. So many folks have lived in the "it could never happen here" bubble for so long, that I think they'll remain in denial if and when the bottom finally does fall out. One problem I see, is the notion that the government is going to save us from it all. That if we just elect the right people, they'll come with the right magic wand. Well, both parties have been in power now, and things have only gotten worse under each! We need to realize that politics is not going to save us and start doing what we can to help ourselves.

    Heard something interesting on the internet a couple weeks ago. That the worldwide economic community is wanting to shift from the US$ as the international standard of currency. Predictions on the consequences of that were exceptionally grim because the US has never had to factor a currency exchange rate into it's imported products. If it ever does, well, we know who the additional cost will be passed on to. I don't necessarily believe everyone that comes down the pike with an economic theory, but I do know that never-ending, every increasing prosperity is a delusion.

    Now, that said, I'd better go see about planting some more seeds. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think there are some people who will stand there and be 'pinched' until it kills them before they will do anything to stop it. So many people rely on someone else for all their needs, they don't know there is any other way to do it. I have a friend on the edge of losing everything, yet she still wont cancel the cable TV or plant a garden. I am not sure who she thinks is going to come and save her.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I heard a funny report yesterday on the news: it was about *frugal fatigue*...it seems people are returning to their spendy ways because they're tired of being frugal...credit cards are being used again...not because their circustances have changed, but because they're *tired* of not spending money they DON'T have...we as a country have learned nothing...it's a shame.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Daisy - Being ahead of the game? Maybe. I feel it'll take years for me to get good at any of this. It's a start granted, but if the bleep hit's the fan I'm just as screwed as everyone else.

    Sue - Yep. Everybody's "casual" about it all. Just amazing to me. I agree with your point that it's nice to be happy with the simple things. Must be something you learn to appreciate as you get older cause when you're younger it's all about go, Go, GO! More stimulation!

    Leigh - The mainstream media IS the problem. We're such "sheep" (hate to insult sheep) listening to everything the media says instead of putting 2 and 2 together. But I guess that's why it's easy to be in denial. If you can't think for yourself, you can blame someone else for the situation you find yourself in. I'm not suprised about the concern over the US dollar. It's a thought I've had as well. Rome fell for a reason.

    Jane - That's a concern I have myself. I tend to wear "rose colored' glasses and I still think there's a part of me that's in denial. All I've ever known is prosperity, no real hardships. I think SM is more in denial than I am. Fight or flight urge. I want to fight but my instinct tells me to runs to the hills. Trouble is the hills are getting crowded. (grin)

    Lynda - Now that's just sad. Spoiled rotten kids. That's what we are! Even me! I wonder if I were one of the "affluent" ones if I'd even be having this conversation. In a way I'm glad my eyes are open now. No turning back for me now!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was a single Mom waiting in those 1970's gas lines. Hours and hours. I will never forget that. I sure don't want to do it again. God willing.....

    ReplyDelete