The Pinch in Your Pocket

Cost of living get so high,
Rich and poor, they start a cry.
Now the weak must get strong.
They say, “Oh, what a tribulation.”

Bob Marley dropped Them Belly Full (But We Hungry) in 1974 and the lyrics still hold so true today. Things are getting tougher and tougher everywhere you look. My sister just told me in Trinidad, even basic groceries are getting scarce — barely a bag of rice for sale at the grocery store, and even here in America, people are stockpiling food and having a hard time making ends meet. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about people selling their heirlooms on Craigslist and purchasing scooters instead of cars. (If I didn’t have a 45-minute long commute to work, I might consider such a thing myself. But Miami in the summertime with that continual rain… no thanks).

I am not a big rice-eater, so the scarcity of that particular grain doesn’t bother me that much. As I just told my sister when she complained about not having enough rice to make a pot of pelau, it’s a good excuse to lighten up on the heavy meals. Make a dinner salad or veggie stir fry instead, buy some produce from your local farmer for a change, and figure out ways around the expenses and limitations you may be creating yourself. The Jamaica Gleaner is advising citizens to start growing their own food. The food situation is terrible, but if you ask me… the worst possible siphon for my money right about now is my gas tank. UGH. Gas prices are KILLING ME.

So the other morning I’m on my way to work in that aforementioned 45-minute commute (public transportation isn’t exactly Miami’s strongsuit, plus to get to work it would require driving to the Metrorail station, taking the Metrorail, then the People Mover, THEN a bus. I’ve done it before, and I just get to work frustrated. So hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the gas station I must go). I waited as long as I could, cruising down Coral Way where there’s gas stations of all varieties — from BP and Mobile to cheapie stations like U-Gas and Marathon. I was utterly heartbroken to discover that the two cheapest stations that typically one-up each other with low prices were both stuck at 3:69 a gallon. Ouch. Meanwhile, the fat bastards at Exxon are profiting.

And all I could mutter under my breath was, “I should have used Gas Buddy.” If you don’t know about Gas Buddy, allow me to introduce you. The site helps you find the cheapest prices in your city. It can be really depressing — I just did a search for my zipcode and the lowest gallon price was $3.61, and the station is waaay out there. But it’s a small help. Car-pooling is another way to save both the environment and your bank account, and I’ve also been turning to my new friend The Frugalista for her money-saving savvy.

For this Thursday throwback, here’s the reggae legend himself, imploring you to forget your troubles and dance. It ain’t easy, Bob.

And now, I gotta go get on that 45-minute, gas guzzling commute to work. Sigh. It’ll take more than dancing for me to forget those troubles. How’s the economy affecting you these days? Do you have any money saving advice, bellas?

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Comments

  1. Yes, coupons….I’ve been clipping them, & I have saved as much as $12 off an approximately $100 tab at Wal-Mart.

    I also have a 45 min commute, and I live in a city much smaller than Miami. I am working fervently to get a job closer to home. I gassed up yesterday, and it was $3.49 a gallon for regular gas :(

  2. I live with my Dad!I know pathetic right? But hey, I do not pay for anything except food and the electric bill. But I have a 30 minute commute, which cost me right now $60 a week. I was going to move this summer and get my own place. But when I added everything up, I cam to the conclusion that I need to stay with him probably another year to save money and see what happens with the economy.

  3. Scary about the food shortages. If I had any outdoor space in my city apartment I would grow food. But no, nada. I’ve signed up for a co-op…but still. Scary times.

    And my goodness, the gas prices. I too have a 40 minute commute and I buy gas in the cheapest state to do so (NJ) and prices are still $3.50 for regular unleaded. It’s enough to make me consider only local jobs for next year (if I can find one!) Bah.

  4. AmiJane says:

    Yeah, over here in Vegas it averages about $3.65 per gallon and the barrel prices keep rising. Yes coupons help, home cooked meals help, only eating what you NEED helps. Most of all, I shop at Walmart and I like to price match. I get the “junk mail” or neighorhood mailers. This includes all the local grocery store sales papers. I usually just find what is on sale and skip right to Walmart and price match. For instance, we have a lot of mexican grocery stores in las vegas and their prices are usually significantly lower on poultry and produce. Price Match!:)

  5. LBellatrix says:

    My parents (okay, my mom) said I could move back in with them whenever I want. I can’t quite wrap my mind around living with my parents at age 43, but it’s nice to know it’s an option, lol.

    For the last three years (two of them spent as a graduate student; I’m “graduated” now) I’ve had a minuscule fashion budget, no cable, and kitchen cupboards stocked with generic-label food and grains bought in bulk. I got rid of my land-line and my Internet connection last year; I now have only the cell phone and I get Internet through work or a wi-fi connection. The public library is my new best friend; I don’t buy magazines or rent movies anymore.

    I don’t have a lot of credit card debt compared to most people but I’ve switched balances over to cards with lower APRs. As I posted on the Frugalista blog (thanks for that link!), my rebate check is going straight to Citibank. Forget about stimulating the economy…people with SENSE will stimulate their potential to be debt-free.

  6. PINCH PINCH OUCH OUCH Bella!

    I live in the DC Maryland area and Metro (what we call them) is not any help on the pockets they have gone up in their prices as well sighting the gas as well. It cost 4.60 day for me to ride the train, then I pay 4.75 to park .. that is rounded up to 10.00 a day and I work 5 days a week honey ! UGH!!!! So I have devised a plane since my son entered a new school it happens to be right across the street from the Metro Station I park there to save that extra 4.75I would have to pay other wise.

    Gas has gone up 2 -3 cents a day for about 2 weeks now here in the DMV. Last night I was on half a tank so I thought I mind as well fill up and I thought I was doing something by putting 15 dollars in Denzel (My car’s name) Honey the little ticker moved one line over UHG UGH UGH I wanted to scream. So I now measure that it will cost me 40 dollars to fill up if I had to today and I’m sure by the summer it will cost me 55-60 dollars. OPEC and them EXXON Boys need to a straight A-double-S Whooping!

    Now as for food I have changed my diet significantly since the beginning of the year for personal health and to save money. I buy more veggies now and more staples like rice (Americans don’t eat much rice so we are not in a shortage of this food…YET?). Every Wednesday there is a Framers Market Behind the George Washington Hospital/University. I happen to walk that way to the Metro so I pick up something every Wednesday (They are only open during the spring/summer). HEY TIP YOUR NOT PATHETIC HONEY>>>>>>>>>>>> I also moved BACK HOME with my Mother for a while to tie up lose ends in my credit and save money.

    And I shop the thrift stores for cute clothes for me and my family! I’m trying my best to conserve and save but it looks like it’s going to get tighter out here.

    Good Luck To All of You in the Coming Months !

  7. nolagirl says:

    Coupons…. There is a website that tells you what coupons are in the Sunday paper that match up with sales in the circulars… so if the grocery store has a sale AND you have a coupon for it. some things are HUGE saving… I just saved $23.75 on $94.00 at Winn Dixie.
    I live a mile from work… I have gained too much weight since the storm so I am about to bike ride around the city (New Orleans is not that big)
    Finally I am starting to look for a side hustle (legal of course) to help me out something part time and close by.

    Tip : I lived with my parents until I paid off my student loans….. as I pay rent and grocery bills now I miss those days!

  8. Thankfully my sister & I rideshare into work and have been splitting the weekly gas bill…

    I downsized back in Dec ’07 from a premium gas luxury car to a more economical regular gas car…

    Even food is getting ridiculous nowadays! Don’t let me start gripping about the cost of milk!

  9. And about the Stimulus Check Honey …. It will be stimulating my Bank Account in a 3.75% yielding savings account (ING DIRECT). And Paying off one BIG BILL. The rest is mines they think they can give me money so I can give it back to them LOL LOL LAUGHABLE !

  10. Bebroma says:

    I also price match. One thing I have learned — always write down the price match items and compare them at Wal-Mart, because sometimes they will undercut the sale price of another store by 1 to 10 cents, and that might not seem much, but honey add it all up, and a penny saved is a penny earned. With price matching and coupons, many times the name brand will be cheaper than the store brand!!! I also utilize couponmom.com and other coupon web sites, and I also never throw away mailers that have coupons or other things…you’d be surprised what’s there. The checkers at Wal-Mart roll their eyes when they see me coming, but I try to help them out by having all my price match items organized by store, etc., and get those out of the way first, so that they can get their scan on once we’ve finished.

    Thank goodness my job is strictly telecommuting. There are a few drawbacks, but it is mostly advantages in so many ways, especially with gas!! A relative lives in rural Oklahoma, and she said they spend 55 dollars every 3 days on gas!! I live in a townhome, so not really any yard, but I grow tomatoes in a little piece of dirt, even a pot.

    The rice shortage is concerning, to me, because it is a staple food for much of the world. This is not a good thing. When rice or flour, things of that nature, start being rationed, it’s scary to me. Maybe because I have kids and I’m immediately thinking of them. Milk is ridiculous.

    I’ve always had to be pretty frugal, being a single mom, and we know ALL the libraries and all the summer programs. You can rent DVDs and everything. My poor kids haven’t been to the movies since…I don’t know when. But it’s all good. We spend time looking at bugs and flowers outside, doing craft projects at home, and reading. And hitting that library!

    Final note (can you tell I could talk all day long on this — at last my inner stingy stella has an audience!) The Children’s Place is the best value I have found for kids’ clothes. When they have their stuff on clearance, and if you score a 15% to 20% off coupon either through the mail or online at couponcabin.com or edeals.com, honey, it’s cheaper than the thrift store and Wal-Mart, and for brand new clothes. I recently paid 1.68 for brand new shirts that were formerly 10.00, and 5.00 for 20.00 PJs. If there isn’t one nearby, shop online, and shipping is flat rate 5.00. Can’t beat it.

    Whew! Let me hop down off this soap box. I’m tired and I still gotta work!

  11. If you eat out or regularly buy a particular food or beverage item, like Starbucks…cut back on that! I love Starbucks and there is one literally RIGHT where I live (1 minute walk), but I hardly ever go because it’s SO expensive! What is your entertainment budget for yourself? Can you cut back on that a little bit? Maybe have 1 drink instead of 2 when you go out!

    I don’t have a car, but if I did and someone asked for a ride–I’d ask for gas money. Hey, times are rough! lol

    45 minutes is looooong! Even though it’s not ideal, have you ever considered carpooling Bella?

    COSIGN with DH on the coupons…get that Sunday paper and your scissors and start clipping! You’ll be so happy when you see your total reduce before your eyes at the store! :D Once you start clipping, you won’t go back!!!

    Also here in Ohio we have discount stores called Marc’s. I’m sure you have an equivalent in Miami. Marc’s is A LOT cheaper than regular grocery stores…and the food is name brand! Marc’s is cheap because it isn’t very fancy. They don’t have barcode scanners and their own bags, but hey! WHO CARES?! It saves me money…I can get a box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch for $2.50 at Marc’s! That’s about half of what it would be normally! I can’t afford to shop at a regular grocery store. 4 things is like $35…wtf! LOVE MY MARC’S!!!!!! lol

    Also if you don’t care about namebrands, you could start shopping at stores like Aldi and Save-a-Lot for generic products. (They may have other names down there, but you get the idea!)

    When you go shopping for clothes remember 2 words: sale and clearance! Buy clothes out of season (Well, do you guys have winter down there? do they sell summer clothes year round? lol)

    That’s all I have for now…as a college student of limited means, saving money has become a way of life!

  12. cheapest gas by me is 3.69

    i have not had full tank in a very long time. all year i’ve been putting in five and ten bucks of gas in my tank. luckily, i dont drive that much, but damn. i think i should fill up my tank now as an investment. because i dont see prices dropping anytime soon.

  13. warrior11209 says:

    I have an hour ride to work every day and I am feeling the pinch.
    I used Gas buddy the other day and I ended up spending $3.35 per gallon..yikkees. We are clipping coupons and stocking up when there is a “true sale”- you know not one of those sales when the store just jacks up the price and gives you a small percentage off . I am going to ask my employer if I can tele-commute 1 day per week – the savings in gas willbe worth it to me ..worth more than a lously 3% raise.
    My family has also become very aware of turning off the lights in rooms that are not being used , turning off tv’s etc.

  14. sweetestsoul says:

    I live relatively close to my job but far away from everything and everybody. So with these gas prices, I feel like a hermit and it’s not cool. I’m planning on hitting up the farmer’s market and experimenting with different grains to cook with. I just found a recipe for black-bean and tomato quinoa that looks delicious. I guess my new thing will be trying new recipes instead of driving across town to visit family and friends.

  15. Well its good to know the prices in miami are mirroring what I’m payin in the dc metro so I’m not as depressed.. but to pay $50 when filling up my camry HURTS.. groceries are hard to cut back on with two active kids but we’ve somehow managed.. now if I could only walk to the subway it would cut down on expenses..I miss NY during times like this..

  16. ChocolateOrchid says:

    Well, as far as my gas tank is concerned I’m trying a couple of tips that I saw on the news. 1. don’t let your gas tank go below half. and 2. fill up in the morning. They said this gets more gas in your tank. They also mentioned paying cash as opposed to credit card. (didn’t quite get that one”
    I also am a stickler for coupons. I’ve heard that Aldi’s grocery store has great prices (not sure if you have one in your area). I’ll be shopping there for food. This is definitely helping me to cut back on my eating out/Starbucks expense.

  17. AmiJane says:

    Bebroma, that was so funny when you said the Walmart checkers have attitude! Haaa! The same thing happens everytime I go price match. I have everything organized and they try to find something wrong so they won’t have to do it.:)They don’t know I’m a pro though! I have learned how to handle attitude from the workers and customer’s waiting in line. If the chick has an attitude, I will immediately request a manager, and that will cut all that out right then and there. Especially in these hard times, I know a JOB is a necessity. And I always warn the people coming up behind me that I’m price matching so it may take a while. Because you know it’s easier for people to get rowdy in line, than to just find another line. So, I have to put that reminder out there. Too funny.

  18. SoFrolushes says:

    Hi
    Over in the UK we are stuck with the same problem. Fuel prices are increasing daily. not only that UK motorist are being stuck with green taxes on cars and more and more taxes. It really irks me that the fuel companies are boasting their profits and we have to suffer. I have a jamaican background and rice is rice a staple in my diet eaten at least 3/4 times a week. imagine not being able to have rice n peas for sunday dinner

    But anyway fuel is a problem, my hubby commented the other day that to fill the car tank has increased quite a bit. For the UK readers here is a petrol price check website http://www.petrolprices.com/

    As for commuting to work. I need a car. soon there will be 2 cars in the family and much needed. Public transport is a joke and expensive. I am making a saving by having my own car

  19. AmiJane says:

    Afrobella,

    I wonder if you could request to work from your home one day a week. With all this technology, I bet it would work. Maybe you could get your writing assignments the day before. Then through Skype, cell phone, and email, you can be equally productive at home. Then that’s one day of commuting gas SAVED!

  20. Bebroma says:

    AmiJane — Hi five, girl!!! I’ve never called a manager, but I do warn the folks behind that I’ve got some price match items, so they are warned. As far as the checkers, I’ve developed radar — I can tell the ones that are REALLY going to have an attitude. I’m going to keep that manager thing in mind, though. Irregardless, it’s my money, and ain’t nobody gonna make me spend 10 cents more than I have to. And doesn’t it seem like the male checkers, while they might sigh, don’t really have a problem with it… The whole thing really doesn’t take that long. I think it’s just their mind set.

  21. AmiJane says:

    Say it sista! I hear ya girl!

  22. Glad you wrotre about my rice problem but as you know we don’t do coupons in Trinidad…no we too $$ & prideful for that..as to the gas situation..for years you would know that i make a written plan of my errands in Driving Order so that I use the shortest best route to get all errands done..yes family members laughed at my list..but now i understand that i have been using the best possible method of saving gas & time.

    Perhaps you can research my idea & see if it is recommended for use in USA.

  23. I’ve used store newspaper ads, coupons, discount cards and this Spring/Summer I’ll be planting herbs and veggies.

  24. AmiJane says:

    Pets
    I can’t believe people are too prideful to use coupons. Knowing good and darn well they could use the savings. I have noticed and done research about groups of people worldwide. And I’m not necessarily talking about your people because I don’t know thought full story. But, it’s funny when their is class system amongst a group of people who are ALL poor.

  25. AmiJane says:

    excuse the typos…

  26. I take the train to work and everywhere I go, I refuse to buy a car ( i live in toronto ) and gas prices and food is affecting us here too..

    I haven’t weaved or braided my hair for the past 3 or 4 months that has saved me lots of money lol (rocking the natural look)

    I use coupons if I find them in all that junk mail they send….

    And i just spend wisely its that best advice buy what you need not what you want!!!

  27. I just paid $4.04 to fill up in Brooklyn!!! Please…Please!

  28. I decided to go to Sam’s to get gas on Saturday because I thought that I would save a little….NOT. It costs 56.00 to fill up my tank. I WAS (and still am) HOT. This weekend I have to travel to East Texas, so I am definitely not looking forward to having to pay for gas for that. :(

  29. Some of you have great, great tips! So glad I posted this, I was going to write something fluffy about makeup but I just had to vent instead. I’m gonna cut a whole lotta coupons this weekend!

    nolagirl — I am working on a post about side hustles! Legal ones, LOL. So don’t start standing on the corner with a brown paper bag just yet. I got you!

    Amijane — I am lucky enough to work from home one day a week – deadline Wednesday. I usually don’t leave the computer, and get all my copy in on time. And I know I owe you an e mail so lemme get cracking on that!

  30. Eminar says:

    I saw something scary today – the grocery store put a sign in the produce section explaining why some shelves were half empty: weather and gas prices have resulted in lack of supply and no trucks able to deliver what there was available. Help! :( All the more reason to buy from local growers or grow your own if possible.

    But I dont remember hearing about the weather affecting crops anywhere…

  31. Nikki J says:

    My girlfriend and I were just talking about gas prices and how expensive everything is! I used to drive a Pathfinder but now I have a little Kia and its GREAT on gas. Although its about $38 for me to fill up (if I’m riding on E), it’ll last me for about 2 weeks. I try not to drive around too much, which is hard to do where I live. Everything is so far apart and public transpo isn’t that great. My husband and I have been shopping in bulk and get everything at Costco. I may look crazy with a industrial sized bag of rice but its gonna last. For fresh produce .I usually go to the Farmers Market in my neighborhood. Its cheaper and I know its comes from local farms. Also ladies, I would suggest getting a deep freeze. Like I said, I by most of my stuff in bulk. My meats get divided up and put in the deep freeze, same with my mega bags of frozen veggies. It helps save!

  32. nolagirl says:

    I for got one thing… I pay my credit acard balance in full everyt month. so when they offer promotions like 5% back on gas or groceries I can really save by using my credit card….
    If you carry a balance I don’t think it would help as the interest rate is higher than that, but if now look for rewards where you can get them.

    I look forward to the side hustle post!…

  33. Would someone please tell ME about this price matching thing ASAP ! LOL LOL I need to know everything I can to save Hook a sister UP SOMEONE PLEASE?????????

  34. Islandgirl550—-OMG OMG OMG OMG … I’m in DC, MD If it;s up there then I know it will be coming to a gas station near me soon

    Eminar—- VERY SACRY! If weather causes food shortages then the world is coming to an end. Let’s pray it dosen’t come to that.

    Side Hustle—- Cant wait … I have a few up my sleve!

  35. UnalteredBeauty says:

    Do you know that with gas costing as much as it does, there are people who will ASK me to take them to run errands and NOT offer to help pay for gas! Am I the bad guy for asking for gas money up front?

  36. I’ve noticed food prices here in London going up as well. Same for gas prices and everything else for that matter. It’s all getting to be a bit much — particularly when you consider that whatever the price in the US, the exact same product is almost double here in the UK. Highway robbery if you ask me.

  37. Bebroma says:

    Styleis20/20 — girl, this is what you do. You get your paper with the grocery circulars (ours comes out on Wednesdays, I think most do), and you take them out. Then you go through and write down anything really big on sale that you use (like Post Raisin Bran 1.68 a box, or whatever). Then you go to Wal-Mart, get your box of Raisin Bran, and if Wal-Mart has not cut the price to like 1.67 or 1.66 to undercut the other folks, when you get to the register, you tell the cashier that you have price match items, slap your Raisin Bran on the belt, say, this is on sale for 1.68 at Hy-Vee or whatever, and show her the ad. Then they give you the stuff at the sale price. They price match what is on sale at other stores. That way you aren’t running all over town trying to save money, when you’re really spending it in gas/time. They do not, however, match buy one get one free deals.

  38. It cost $47 to fill up our car this morning and I about died. What in the world! So, I’ve learned how to make my own soy chai lattes instead of buy Starbucks (only get it from Starbucks on Saturday morning), getting books at the library instead of Barnes and Noble, I paid all my credit cards off with my tax return and I quit watching TV two weeks ago so at least it’ll save the electricity because my husband isn’t letting the cable go. I’ve taken to hitting up every sale at JC Penny –they send these great coupons in the mail — I managed to get 3 pairs of jeans for my son (also known as the human weed because he grows so crazy) for $12 last week. I’m going natural so I haven’t seen a hairdresser in almost a year. What else? I’m plucking my brows instead of getting them waxed and I’m doing my own manicures/pedicures too. Saving tons of money that way!

    We are definitely in for tough times. It worries me but I know if we cut back we’ll make it.

  39. I love this post! I’ve been using gas buddy for a little while now… my boyfriend sent it to me and I immediately sent it out to all of my friends :)

    I actually just started a lil website devoted to pinching pennies… it’s been a habit of mine for years now so I just decided to start sharing my tips: http://bougieballing.blogspot.com/

    One area I’ve really noticed a difference (aside from gas and groceries) is in the cost of my electricity and in the cost of my rent… ugh! I went to an interesting energy conservation talk by McKinsey a few days ago and man… somebody (grrr) is definitely getting rich off our domestic financial woes :(

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