Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Even a Coupon Clipper

I felt the color drain from my face, and I heard Jon let out a whoosh of air when the cashier said our total was $94.98. That’s $95 dollars for one week’s worth of groceries, for two people. I felt the urge to throw myself down on the scuffed linoleum floor, kicking and screaming about the insane prices of everything from strawberries to toilet paper. I imagined the whole scene; me, on the floor, screams eventually fading into a soft whimper, my legs stop kicking as I slowly curl them up to my chest, and I begin quietly begging God to stop corporate America from continually raising the price of dog food so that, you know, maybe I could eat, too.

We blew budget by twenty bucks, and I really shouldn’t have been surprised. We blow budget all the time anymore--on everything--not just groceries. Every time I pay bills I open the Excel sheet containing our monthly expenditures and I’m constantly tweaking something--moving money from the planned savings column to the gas column, or from miscellaneous spending to utilities--because no matter how much I adjust, or how much I move an amount from one to another, it’s still more expensive the following month. Money is being taken from me so fast that I honestly can’t see where it’s going, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, like I’m incapable of adding up the numbers, or that I’m being careless with my paycheck. It makes me feel unworthy of owning the things that I do, to be having the fun that I have, no matter how modest or low-key it all really is. Sure, we’ve made some pretty dumb financial decisions in the past, but we made it through--we corrected them--and we learned our lesson, but yet, here we are; making sound decisions and only getting shafted.

Okay, I’m wallowing in the drama of it, and that’s not the point. Twenty dollars does not break the bank, but every dollar suddenly being stretched to the limit, and prices all around us steadily inching upward to the point that I can’t even estimate a correct budget, and the money coming in moving at a turtle's pace in comparison—that’s why the bank is broken. That’s why my system doesn’t work anymore. This economy is killing everyone, and I suppose Jon and I should consider ourselves fortunate for only feeling the effects of it in the last few months.

But my question is when does it end? Who can fix it? I’m not holding my breath for McCain or Obama. Neither one has convinced me they have the ability to right our wrong economy. Neither one has convinced me that we’re not going to be facing another 4 years of the same old crap.

For future reference, to whom do I have to sell my soul to keep from spending another $95 on produce, bread, meat, and dairy products for another week?

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