How are you adjusting your lifestyle for the financial crisis?

How are you adjusting your lifestyle for the financial crisis?

Personal | Judette Coward-Puglisi

November 14, 2008


 For the first time since our marriage three years ago, my husband Giovanni and I entered the supermarket this week with a shopping list.

 The Sunday before, we had cut out splurges like feta cheese.  My husband gave up his prosciutto,  a big deal for an Italian for whom cured ham is as basic  as calalloo is  to a Trinidadian during  a Sunday meal. Together, with just those two decisions  we shaved off $55.00 from our trip to the supermarket.  Later,we scoured our bill to see where we could save more. Sourdough bread. Out. Haggen Dazz ice-cream. Out. Pre-seasoned chicken cutlets. Out.  And so we painstakingly went, until our grocery bill was just about halved.


17 thoughts on “How are you adjusting your lifestyle for the financial crisis?

  1. I agree with you Judette, it is a serious situation however am bringing another perspective to it. What about people with children? There are some things that just cannot be scratched off from the list such as milk. I can tell you that the price of milk is ridiculous. I never bought seasoned cut-lets but rather opted for the un seasoned whole chicken but the price and the size just do not match up. The decision to cut back is good and is a must now however more attitudes need to change. In essence, we need to stop fantasizing and wake up and smell the coffee.

  2. Good point Richard.

    Here’s something to mull on: a letter was written to President Elect Barack Obama in the New Yorker (about two weeks ago) suggesting that instead of having a White House Lawn, he should think about dedicating a significant portion of the acreage to the creation of a White House Garden.

    The point is it would send a clear message to Americans that the Government was serious about food security and one tangible way for households to take control as well was through planting vegetable crop.

  3. June I agree, one of my colleagues told me that her household children spend about $2,000 a week on groceries and they have three children. And that’s just on basics, she says.

    But I am not just talking about food and the basics but just the entire way of life, a type of keeping up with the Jones’ that seems to have been dominant over the past five years.

  4. I’m growing corn and other crops as time permits and getting some ponds ready for tilapia… raining this weekend. Other than that – brainstorming.

    The idea is to spend less than you make. Of course, that was always the idea. It just seems that less people were doing it. 😉

  5. Taran, impressive.

    And you’re right spending less than you make is great advice, and here’s another I adopted the day I opened for business," pay yourself first". IBy that I mean whatever cheque I receive I take 5-10% of that and put it away in a secure savings investment.

    This strategy has worked for me enormously over the past few years.

  6. Taran, but I wasn’t even talking about banks, I was talking about saving instruments (typo, sorry) and the banks is just one of the many such instruments

    But it raises a point that as much as people spend, they don’t necessarily take the time to learn about how to create wealth. I suppose its time consuming, harder too than spending time in a mall.
    And it goes back to your fundamental point that people spend more than they make and finance their dreams with credit

  7. Judette, thank you for opening up this discussion.

    I was chatting with a friend only this AM – he just returned from a Miami trip. The impact of the contracting US economy is hard-hit – we discussed his family’s experience and their attempts to dodge the bullet. Despite proclamations of our "shelter" and "all is well in T&T", I too am worried.

    When the first signs of global economic fall out had been signalled, in February I took personal steps to streamline my accounts, step up on savings, and curtail luxury spending, including social activities. Some friends thought then that I was over-reacting. Now the adjustments continue, but psychologically I’ve crossed the "denial" threshold and the re-adjustments, as they continue, are not shocking to my system.

    I encourage all to apply discipline, and to get as much info as possible. Of course assimilating the sometimes "too much" info could be taxing, but we need to undertake the task – speak to brokers, advisers, anyone who can breakdown what is happening and apply to our individual scenarious.

    One thing is certain – some difficult times are ahead. Good luck everyone

  8. One of the comments mentioned the necessity of milk.

    Why is milk necessary? Actually it is not.

    And I can give a very simple example…calves drink milk, but cows do not.It is the same with humans, we no longer need milk after the body stops producing the digestive enzyme.
    After a few years, the digestive system stops producing rennin which helps to digest the milk, as the body changes to accept sustenance from other sources.

    Milk and dairy products are known to be the cause of many ailments, and there is almost a coverup about these effects. Lactose intolerance is just the body trying to defend itself. It is also known that Caucasian are less prone to lactose intolerance in comparison to other peoples.

    People say that milk is a source of calcium! Ha! But so is many many other foods.

    They tell mature women to drink milk to prevent osteoporosis! Ha! It has been proven that drinking millk does not reduce the chance of contracting osteoporosis, but what works is exercise!

    For example, the Peruvian women of the Andes have very low incidences of osteoporis , because of the rugged physical lives that they live. You see..bone is like muscle…it gets denser with physical load.

    Do not believe the hype.

    But on the financial crisis, I laud and admire Taran for what he is doing. I am also just starting on my journey of creating wealth AND agriculture.

    Oh could scratch milk off the problem!

  9. Agreed Judette. Exactly what are we going to do about it as a country? The business sector is realistic in terms of projecting/planning for the next 6 months and I think the Gov’t has review a lot of their ongoing projects to see what is really necessary, instead of putting ‘spin’ on the whole issue.

    Personally, I have cut back on my expenditure in terms of luxury items at the grocery and things I don’t really need.

    Coincidentally, a friend, who owns two medium size supermarkets told me this morning that their sector experienced a 20% decrease in sales during October. Maybe most people are thinking looking where they can cut back at the grocery, hopefully this will lead to decreased prices in the near future, because even the prices of some basic food items are scary.

    Commenting on what John said, I agree, strength training is more effective in prevention of osteoporosis than milk.

  10. Folks, did you see the letter about Tourism in Tobago in yesterday’s newspapers. I’ll quote it because it is completely instructive of how in denial many of our officials are:

    "I was very surprised to read in the November 7 issue of Tobago News that the THA Tourism Division, run by the Hon Mr Neil Wilson ‘has anticipated a small drop in (tourism) arrivals due to the current world economic situation’. While I recognise that the property which I own and operate is not among the ‘leading’ ones within the industry, I nonetheless consider it to be representative of a unique sector and therefore deserving of inclusion in any sample polling done for the purpose of drawing conclusions.

    Mr Wilson might be surprised to learn that between October and the time of writing this letter, this property has had no fewer than five cancellations- four of them representing group tours plus one independent couple.

    Every one of these cancellations has come from a tour operator. The Division of Tourism might also be interested in some of the remarks made by these operators, all of whom-three in all-on a regular basis do major business in Trinidad and Tobago with various hotels in the eco-tourism sector:

    – October 8: I have no-one on this tour and we will have to cancel it"

    This meltdown is major business and I just wish we’d (gov’t in particular) would all stop sugar coating it.

    Your friend is right to be worried Marlene. Miami has been one of hardest hit states, with the highest foreclosures on home.

    Some people mentioned cutting back on social activities, Maria mentioned on groceries, what other aspects of your personal budget are being looked at?

  11. my plans:

    more house limes.
    cheaper to stock up on food stuff and alco, buss a pot, and lime at a home base. in these times, it’s safer too. same with house partes. we should visit these old time ways some more.

    cook more.
    default to the days when fast food was more like a monthly or bi-monthly treat as opposed to an everyday meal option. it’s healthier too.

    turn handyman.
    make home improvement a hobby. it’s a good way to keep busy (thus creating less time to go to the spend money spots) and get exercise. not to mention the obvious benefts of maintaining and improving property value. might even get hired for a few jobs. in this instance, will work for drinks.

    walk some more.
    the sun is hot, but so are gas prices. might as well stretch the legs a little bit and let the gas tank stretch a little further. more exercise too.

  12. Great tips Qunicy, just invite me to the limes…. and you cooking too. Don’t forget to make it Dutch that way everyone contributes and you save.

    Someone mentioned a Friday DVD swap to cut back on weekly Movie Towne visits. Great one I thought.

  13. also, with the help of a projector, movie lovers could do a movie night lime.
    trust me, movie towne have nothing on that!!

    sure judette, yuh could come tru!!

  14. I am rather young and a little worried about this "rough patch" that we are about to go through..
    Now i would have never experienced anything like this before but my mother did mention to me earlier this week that i was born in "hard times" (in 1987)
    My mother compared the 4 years she had with my brother financially and the years that she had when i born… wow..scary..
    From 1983 to 1987 (the 4 yrs difference between my brother and I) the grocery list decreased, the financial burden was not "hold your head and bawl" but it was felt.

    I am now forced to wonder about the effects of this financial crisis on me.. I am worried about jobs and job security. I am worried about graduating students and the availability of jobs in Trinidad & Tobago for them.

    For me:
    Try to save more
    Try to spend less
    Budget and stick to it

    As far as financial commitments, I really don’t have much of those, no house, car, land, kids, parrot on a stick (lol).. Just 2 dogs and a Cable bill…

    All the best guys!

  15. Are you sure you’re very young? Your insight suggested otherwise.

    We all need to be worried, if you’re working Adanna now is the time to contribute just a bit to the household funds, maybe add the phone bill to the cable bill.

    But you’re on the right track: save, spend lesson. These will be trying times but for the young, without chick or child, I also think it will be a great time to learn serious lessons about budgeting and finances.

    May we never seek to keep up with the Jones’ again.

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