Coping with the cost of living today has become a struggle for even the most frugal individual. Prices are at an all time high and there is seemingly no relief in sight. I never thought I would see the day were I could literally say, “I remember when a loaf of bread cost…” like my parents had when I was a child. When you are a child, the cost of living does not enter your mind nor does the struggle to cope with it. As the child of a dual income family, striving to just make ends meet seems to be the norm. There is no extra money for any sort of entertainment or splurges. My mother and I have developed our own sense of entertainment, we call him Clearance. As in the clearance section of each store we enter. As a young child I knew all to well that clearance items we could actually use were extremely valuable discoveries.
Just about every store has them, even high priced department stores will usually have a small rack or row of shelves hidden deep within each department, containing items that for one reason or another have had their prices slashed by thirty to even ninety percent. I am not ashamed to say that we buy our Halloween candy about a week after Halloween when the candy has been marked down approximately 50-75% at target and Wal-Mart. The same goes for Valentines Day, Easter, and Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas and birthdays on an approximate basis, meaning that if an item is found on clearance that would be just perfect for my brother or my father but no holiday is in sight, the gift will be given as an early birthday present, with the understanding that when their birthday actually does come around, they will receive no gift unless another reasonably priced clearance item is found.
We proudly boast that we practically never pay full price for anything. We buy clothes for each season at the end of the season, meaning that we by our winter clothes and boots around March and early April and we purchase our summer clothes during late September and October when the prices are marked down.
Of course you will often find household items reduced that have some dysfunction or damage part or may be missing parts altogether. But seriously, who cares if a large area rug has a few runs and frays in it? Reduced from $40.00 to $6.00, I will gladly snip of the damaged section and hide the missing corner under a chair. We are not too proud to shop at Goodwill either. From books to furniture, electronics and appliances to clothes and toys, the Goodwill store is a virtual treasure trove for my mother and I. We wish each other good luck before entering the store in the hopes of finding that amazingly great buy that makes your hear skip a beat.
The supermarket is not left out of our search for great deals either. Day old Danishes, donuts, pies and cakes are an amazingly cheap treat, as well as marked down produce and even meat. My great grandmother taught my grandmother how to stretch a penny who in turn taught my mother how to stretch a dollar. I am confident and blessed to have been taught these same skills which I will proudly pass down to my children one day.
In closing, coping with the cost of living today is not entirely impossible. Pride gets in the way all too often and the need to have the next new gadget or toy for ourselves and our children often puts unneeded strain on the family budget. Prioritizing the family’s needs as well as allowing yourselves a treat every now and then makes living in this economy bearable while instilling the value of a dollar and hard work in ourselves and our children.