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Friday, November 21, 2014

If the stock market is doing so awesome, why do I feel so poor?

Property taxes are up. Grocery prices are up. Utility costs are up. Insurance costs are up. The only expense that has gone down is gas for the cars.

Those are the basics for our household. And, yet, salaries are only rising modestly, if at all, for most folks.

What am I doing about the rising costs of living? I'm continuing to watch our grocery spending very closely.  I am being careful as ever to make sure we turn off lights, turn down heat when we won't be home, use equipment like washers and dishwashers only when full, and taking advantage of free entertainment whenever possible. And, I am NOT allowing myself to be lured into spending more than I intend, with this Black Friday coming up.

I remember feeling this way in the 90s. I kept hearing reports about how amazing the economy was doing, yet our family seemed to be moving only slowly towards our financial goals. I guess the good news is we were (and are now) moving towards our goals, and not away from them.

And I keep repeating to myself, "stay the course", "don't give up now", "your work will pay off", "keep your head about you", etc.

Then, I remind myself of just how "rich" we are. There may be less disposable income, after paying bills. But we have a roof over our head, we are well-fed, we are warm and clothed, and we have some money for items and services that the rest of the world would determine are luxuries.

As we enter into Thanksgiving week, here in the US, I can count so many blessings for which to be thankful. As I am sure can you.

Have a great weekend!


  1. One of my easy-to-say-hard-to-do goals lately has been to avoid comparing the lifestyle of others to myself. It can be easy to look at others and think, "how can they afford to DO what they do?" and "why can't we have more stuff/go on more vacations?". I especially wonder that with, as you mentioned, the rising cost of living. But the truth is, I have everything I need. Let the masses do what they will with their money ... I need to be responsible for my household ... hopefully I can be generous along the way, and be grateful for what I have.

    1. Hi Kris,
      definitely! Focus on how you and your household live, and let the rest of the world manage themselves. That seems to be the way to deal with this feeling of not being better off, financially. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I too compare and it always gets me in trouble. However, I go the other way sometimes. I spend more money than many do on these frugal blogs and wonder if others are judging me because I eat out or go to a play sometimes. And while I am not as comfortable sharing details of our finances as some are, I am comfortable with the way we spend our money. Now to get comfortable with not playing the comparison game.

    On a less serious topic, Lili, does the reduced light ever bother you? We have a couple of burnt out light bulbs that we haven't replaced and I really don't like being in the rooms with the reduced light.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Comparisons just seem to make me more miserable. And no, I don't think others are judging you for having the ability to afford more meals out, or entertainment that costs money. We all choose how we'll spend what we have been given. I'm envious of eating out, but not judging. I have enough in my own corner for someone to judge.

      As for light, yes, lower light can be really hard on me. It all depends on the weather of the day. When it's sunny out, I can get by with far fewer lights on. But on rainy/cloudy days, I do turn on all/most the lights in a room. I just make sure I don't leave them on when I go to another room in the house.

      The way I look at it is this, if I have lights turned off in the rooms where I'm working, it will decrease my work output. And my work output saves us money. So turning off lights when I need them, even if just emotionally/mentally need them, is counter-productive. I do everything I can think of to keep myself "happy" at my work, including music, lights and enough heat so I feel like I'm enjoying what I do.

      And about heat, I've also discovered that there's a point where too much heat is counter-productive. So, I'm not tempted to turn the furnace up a whole lot. And that is an individual thing. I know that I can manage quite well with a cooler house than most folks. But that may not always be the case. I remember my grandmother liking her indoor winter temp around 80 degrees.

    2. Lili, I'm a few years ahead of you and am proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. As you know, your time will come too. I I have to remember that we worked hard to get to where we are and relax and enjoy it.

    3. I think there are a lot of ways to be frugal and there is something to be learned from both of your approaches. :)

  3. I always remembering telling my kids that there will ALWAYS be be people that have more than we do, and also those who will be less. It is not worth the emery to worry about comparing. The biggest challenge is being truly content with what we DO have and not let anyone or anything rob us of that contentment. I can remember tucking them into bed with sheets fresh off the line and telling them how lucky they were that their beds smelled of sunshine, and to feel blessed for such a simple pleasure.

    1. What a lovely way to make your point to your children, Valarie! And you're right, we musn't let anyone else steal our contentment. It's our right (and responsibility) to feel joy in our own lives. Thank you.

  4. Well, yanno... that which is good for "the economy" (the stock market and the corporations) isn't always good for the people living within said "economy"!

    Anyhow, hang in there - slow and steady prevails over boom & bust every time.

    1. Hi Cat,
      as my mom always said, "slow and steady wins the race". I just have to be content with being a tortoise!

  5. I hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving week, Lili. :)

    1. Thank you, Belinda.
      May you and yours have a lovely Thanksgiving, as well!


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