The lively experiment of Blog on the Half Shell continues. While building on our obsession with “size of Rhode Island” references and anything with an Ocean State of mind, we’ll also be asking a question each week. So post a comment and we’ll see if Half Shell can get a half-life…
A friend of mine, a waitress, spent a recent Saturday afternoon waiting for customers.
“You know the worst part,” she asked. “Everybody who walks through the door looks at me, shakes their head and says, ‘It’s the economy, isn’t it?’ Well, you know, maybe it’s just a slow Saturday. We had those when the economy was good, too.”
Point taken, but my friend would be the first to admit that Easy Street is a dead end these days. The same waitresses and bartenders who paid their heating and electric bills by working a double on Saturdays have seen their income cut by half. Shoppers aren’t shopping. Some businesses have closed. And the daily drumbeat of bankruptcies, foreclosures, debts, defaults and layoffs has the sound and fury of a Keith Moon solo.
Everybody I know is cutting back. Clipping coupons. Eating in. Buying only what we absolutely need at the grocery store. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to still have jobs are juggling bills more than ever before, getting by paycheck to paycheck.
Several polls reinforce what we see around us on a daily basis. All of them, from Quinnipiac College to Gallup, indicate that consumers are already implementing huge cutbacks in dining out, entertainment and leisure, heating or cooling their homes, vacations and charitable giving.
For what it’s worth, I began by putting the plastic in solitary confinement, locking up my credit card for good until the debt is paid. I refused to turn on the heat until November and continue to keep it low enough to require fleece and sweatshirts some nights. I shop for groceries judiciously, using only whatever dollars happen to be squirming around in the wallet. I use the weekly Borders coupon to buy a single book at a reduced rate, stockpiling gifts for the holiday season. I eat out socially just once a week (a far cry from my devil-may-care pub-crawling past). I jog more and golf less. I spend one night of the week at the library, where I check out books instead of buying them for myself. I’ve postponed travels and vacations and will be sticking closer to home for the foreseeable future, although I refuse to call it a “staycation.” I have also, I admit, stopped giving as much to non-profits, charitable causes and in-store tip jars. I’m rolling quarters, dimes and nickels again and depositing them in the bank (not quite ready to plunge into the pennies yet). I’m breaking out bottles of red wine that have been sitting in a rack for years. I’ve agreed with my friends to cancel our Christmas gift exchange and just enjoy dinner and a night of board games together instead.
How are you cutting back in these tough economic times?
Post a comment, and maybe we can all figure out how to endure the recession together.
Size of Rhode Island alert
The adventure travel Web site World Hum entices us to visit post-nuclear Chernobyl, where “The flora and fauna in an area the size of Rhode Island are still radioactive…”