Friday, June 24, 2011

Would You Take The Food Or The Fuel?

I went to the Co-op to buy groceries and my bill was just shy of a hundred dollar bill. The picture above is what I got for my hundred bucks. I had three bags and not one of them was full.

Then I stopped at the gas station. My tank said half empty so I thought I'd bring it up to full. I know I have a Montana gas hog but how hoggie can it get? Fifty bucks to bring the needle to the top, which meant it would take a hundred for a fill.

I hate to be the cranky old woman who lives in the past, but I remember when we would drive up to a gas pump, toss a buck at the service attendant and tell him, "Give me a buck's worth." (We didn't pump our own gas back then.) We could do a lot of driving on that dollar and all the car engines were V-8's, too.

I notice the rising prices. They bite. Reagan said, "A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when "you" lose your's." Some economists say we are headed back to the "30's. Those were bleak times. Just ask your great grandparents, if they're still around. We never had a car during the 30's, couldn't afford one.

Do you think the economy will make us choose between food or fuel? I still see a lot of traffic on the highways and many of those cars get much better mileage than mine....... but, try driving one on Montana mountain roads.

Any one out there with a crystal ball?


  1. just talking about this tonight with my neighbor. and with the flooding in the Midwest, the corn crop is going to be very scarce which also affects food and fuel prices too! ugh!

  2. This is a very good question, and one I don't feel I can answer flippantly.

    I do not think we will get to the point between choosing between food and fuel-- and I don't think it's a matter of adopting a more simple lifestyle for most of us. I believe the last three years have us all paring back, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Part of the squeeze we feel on the American lifestyle is that the rest of the world 'wants their share of the pie, too.' All of a sudden, there are more of us, clamoring for said slice, and this jacks up the cost all around.

    I don't think this is all recession. And I certainly don't think we're going back to the '30s. I think this is an inevitable progression of the shrinking, growing globe. Consider it a check on America's cancerous growth while developing nations play catch up.

    Remains to be seen what the result will look like, but one thing we can do is not give in to a gloom-and-doom mentality. Remaining optimistic is vital to the success of those populating any era-- no matter how and hard and fast they're cycling.

    Two cents.

  3. I'm already quite close to choosing between heating and eating. Thankfully, eating warms me and I don't have a car, so that's a plus.

  4. Well, here's Canada heard from and yes, everytime we go to the grocery store the prices have gone up and the same thing is happening at the pumps. Like most retired folks our income is not going to increase to catch up. The economic landscape is in a state of flux and it will indeed be interesting to see how it looks when the "dust settles".

  5. Same story this side of the pond!
    Ireland has had a major cut-back, and it is difficult. We certainly think about our spending a lot more than we did 3 years ago, having had a 23% pay cut, yes you read that correct, 23%.

    However, I think we need to use the world's resources wisely, but not to the point of choosing between food and fuel.
    A lot of people here have started to grow some of their own food, would that work for you? Taste's so much better too!

  6. Hi Manzanita .. I think life is going to get very tough .. particularly because at the last recession credit cards weren't around and debt wasn't already created ..

    Difficult times .. I could give up the car .. but I'd rather not!

    Cheers Hilary

  7. Texwisgirl : Good point. Corn is used in adhesives to yogurt and everything in-between. And that in-between list is extensive. Your point that ethanol uses corn could affect the price of gasoline.

    Suze : For your two cents, you bring in some excellent points to the growing global economic situation. I suppose that now with an election year coming up and the media's coverage on foreign troop removal, a lot boils down to personal political views. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your input.

    River : There's one advantage to living in a city where there is public transportation. When I consider the initial price of cars, the insurance, maintenance, and gas prices, it's like throwing money into a dark hole for some people. Namely me. That was one reason why I moved to BZ because the stores I need are within walking distance. You are fortunate if you don't need a car.

  8. Mybabyjohn : Yes, it's the retired people who thought they had saved enough to live on who are feeling a crunch. I definitely feel it and I have already cut back on a lot of my spending. I like your phrase, "When the dust settles." We'll see.

    Mimi : WOW. 23% is certainly a dive in the wrong direction. Then I wonder where your taxation is going.

    Growing a garden is a valuable idea for a way to eat nutritious food and cut back on spending. At my age, it wouldn't Pay for me to invest the time and effort and it would mean extensive canning the produce for winter use. I did just that when my family was around and it did save on the grocery bill.
    Thanks for your interesting comment.

    Hilary : I know exactly what you mean. That expense of a car could be cut as we're getting older, but I would rather not give up my car because it represents a sense of freedom to me.

  9. I think we will continue to move further into difficult times, but perhaps it's necessary in order for change to occur on a fundamental level. I do think, though, that people are already choosing between food and fuel - really thinking about getting in the car for unnecessary trips here and there, when grocery prices are getting higher all the time - that's choosing at some level. Several years ago, I would go to the store and get three, possibly four very full paper bags for around $70. Now, I get one bag (reusable, cloth - I'm a good girl, most of the time)as I did yesterday, for about $60. From four to one. That's a big change, no matter what changes might have occurred in my choices.

  10. Food prices are soaring here in the UK too. I popped to Waitrose last week to grab some food because my daughter and a few friends were coming to stay and I spent over £100. There was nothing special there, no meat (she's a veggie) and I was shocked.

    On the other hand whenever we go out somewhere special for a meal or a treat like the theatre it's always packed with people so people have still got money!

    I'd love to know what a Monatana gas hog looks like!

  11. Food prices are soaring here in the UK too. I popped to Waitrose last week to grab some food because my daughter and a few friends were coming to stay and I spent over £100. There was nothing special there, no meat (she's a veggie) and I was shocked.

    On the other hand whenever we go out somewhere special for a meal or a treat like the theatre it's always packed with people so people have still got money!

    I'd love to know what a Monatana gas hog looks like!

  12. I all ready watch my trips and I have a pretty efficient vehicle. No longer do I run to town for just coffee or milk. There has to be mulitple reasons for the trip.
    I don't feel pain yet, just have to be a bit more thoughtful about what and where I spend. We have been spoiled for a long time.

  13. Teresa : That is a big jump from 4 paper bags for $70 to one cloth bag for $60. Yes you are being a good girl. Me too. I always take my basket and several cloth bags. (We're so good). Now, I take one day of the week and try to get all my odds and ends shopping done. I've really cut down on trips to Helena. It's far cheaper to hire someone to mow the grass than it is for me to drive there and do it myself.

    Rosalind : You said you were shocked when you bought the last groceries. Even the sales girl was shocked when I got the food in the picture. She said, "It adds up fast, doesn't it?" Everything would have fit in the basket but I always divide it up because it's easier to carry more bags of less weight.

    Right. People are spending money for entertainment But I remember reading that during the great depression, people spent more money for alcohol and entertainment. Women went to the hair saloon more often too.

    My car is a Nissan X-terra and requires premium gas. I love that car and it's my 2nd one. When I had the first one I was trying to save and started using regular gas. I got engine trouble and they said it was really necessary to use the premium gas. Fooey!!

    Patti : Yeah, you have to do all your shopping in one day. I chose this house in BZ because I can walk to most everything. A hardware store, post office, food store with a fairly good selection of organic food and the big mall.

  14. I was born during the Great Depression. People "made do" with lots of things but a lot of things people would never dream of using these days. I do think we are going back in time to those days and that the high and mighty will resort to strong arms to steal what they want. They do it now but with money instead of guns.

  15. I remember when gas station attendants washed my windows and checked my tires while gassing my car! Those were wonderful years! Yes, life has gotten more expensive since then.

  16. No funny comments today--this is a sad situation. I feel SO fortunate that my husband was & is still such a good provider that we can still afford to take our family to restaurants, shop (at Costco) & drive. Some of our friends can no longer do these things. My father drove a delivery truck for a wholesale meat company & never made over $100 a week in his life. My mother taught me well--I still look for bargains & will NOT overspend.

  17. Prices in the grocery store creep up ten and twenty cents at a time, as though the owners think we won't "notice" such a "small" increase, but when it's happening to almost every item in the cart, it's ridiculous. Thank goodness for coupons and those buy-one-get-one free deals! The gas prices are edging downward, but (sigh) it'll never be a quarter a gallon again.

  18. Honest Abe : Thank you for popping by. I think we got good values being depression babies. Credit cards lure the greedy into debt.
    You and your wife have a great week end. I'm happy to find bloggers who are almost as old as I am.

    Gigi : It was nice to get all that service. Now I don't know how to get air in my tires.... I'm always fearful of checking the air,myself.

    Fran : I'm glad I lived through the great depression. It makes us survivors. I can remember how we survived on nothing and pennies. You are indeed lucky that your husband has always been a good provider.

    Susan : Wish I had the energy to plant a big garden like I used to have. You sound like a wise shopper. Gas has been fluctuating again.

  19. I forgot to tell you that I like your "fence" picture--lovely, soft feeling.

  20. Hello, thought I'd pop in and say hello. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comment. Your blog looks like fun!

  21. traveling back and forth to Utah, I am familiar with those Montana Mountain roads.
    fuel or food........
    our younger generation has never had to make such choices...the only things they worry about is whether to get an IPad or a Blackberry.
    tough time a'coming I think.
    Yup, I do remember when gas services cleaned your windows, checked your oil, and filled your tank....for much much less.

    Now , we just pay more and GET less.

  22. Maybe fifty for the gas, and fifty for the food?

    There are no easy answers to these problems.

  23. Mimi, I am so very sorry to hear about your paycut. We planted vegetables in our garden but drought conditions made for a shabby yield. That and, no doubt, our inexperience. Blessings on your head.

    And yours, too, Manzanita. (Your grocery bags look almost exactly like mine. :))

  24. Hilary, I gag every time my wife says, "I have to get gas today". Usually right after I've told her the budget for the week. Until just recently it was close to $80 to fill our mini-van! Insane is the only word for it. I'd have some different ideas if I was the Prez but they would probably get me shot!

  25. I feel your pain.
    I can tell you, that on our recent trip to Montana, you-all had the lowest gas prices we saw! Otherwise, it might have been $75 to get your half-full tank!

  26. Manzi: I do have a crystal ball. It says I am going to have a great day tomorrow. I sincerely hope you do as well. Have a terrific weekend!

  27. Yikes, that sounds dire. Things are biting on this side of the ocean, too. I hope the difficult times pass.

  28. Nail on the head my friend and I did know both great grandmothers. I was taught by depression era women, a big plus in my book.

    I noticed no meat in those baskets, that would have definitely sent you over the top.

    I say depression.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  29. I remember .25 a gallon gas. It's depressing.

  30. I am going to be 77 in October, and my wife, Patty, of 56 years will be 75. Not spring chickens but grew up in the mid thirties when times were tough and most people didn't have a spare dime for anything. We actually went hunting to put meat on the table.

  31. Manzanita,
    I am right there with you. The thing is, if we don't fuel our bodies, we aren't going to live long enough to fuel our cars. I don't know how these young people can afford to raise a family today, especially if they try to eat healthy.

    I find it is so much more expensive to eat healthy than to eat junk.....

    I think things may go back to the old days when families lived together... like the Waltons. How else can people afford to live?

  32. It is depressing. I remember a time when we used to get gas for $12. a cylinder and now it's $55.

    And the pay rate? Only slight rise.

  33. Fishducky : Sorry, I misunderstood. Thought you meant your son-in-law. But as long as you have one cook/chef in the family, you are lucky. :) Thanks for commenting on the new header.

    Montanagirl : Thanks for stopping by. It's always nice to meet someone from Montana.

    Wendy : How true about our kids and their lives up to now. My granddaughter said she grew up poor. I told her, "I don't think so." She has no clue what poor is and I hope she never has to find out. I like your new profile picture.

    Not Just another Mother Blogger : I suppose that is about what I do so I don't have to shell out so much at one time. Thanks for stopping by and the comment.

    Suze : Do you mean my motly assortment of shopping bags. I'm used to them and how much each will carry. I lost one at the store but found it and I was happy. Ha.

  34. Chuck : I agree with you too. Gag is a good word for buying gas.

    Big D : Oh, I've heard that. I wish I could take advantage of that but I need premium for my car so it still jacks up my price. Happy you got in on some lower prices here.

    JJ : Hope you had a special week end, as seen by your crystal ball.

    Talli : Things look a little bleak no matter what side of the globe you are.

    Jules : You really do have good solid values. Must be a hand down from your grandmas. I'm sorry to complain, especially if you are seeking employment. Good Luck soon.

    Laura : 25 cents a gal now sounds like it's back in the stone age. People say the price is dropping a little but that price is gone with 10 cent movies. Ha

  35. Honest Abe : congratulations to you and your wife on your long marriage. Nobody seems to stay married very long these days. I was born in 1930 so I too, remember the depression well. Thanks for commenting.

    Terry : You mention the Waltons. I've been watching the re-runs lately. I've been thinking how nice it would be to live with some extended family. You could raise a big garden and have people to work in it. It wouldn't pay for me to have a garden. Way too much work for what one person would get out of it.

    My groceries would have been less money if I had bought chemically grown food. I was in a store that sold both chemically grown food and organic and I noticed the grapes. The reg, chemical ones were on sale for 99cents and the organic were 5.99 a lb. I was tempted but I stuck with the organic. I can't afford to fill my body with chemicals after I worked so hard to get rid of them. Even the organic I'm not so sure of. If one farmer grows organic and his neighbor doesn't, won't his chemicals drift to the organic?
    I don't see how families can eat at organic prices either but it's still cheaper than getting sick. And you got better kids. When I lived in Florida, I knew 2 families who raised their kids on macrobiotics. All those kids were so even tempered, sweet and easy to get along with. Didn't have any of those highs/lows and temper tantrums.

    I went online to write in WR but now it's late. I worked in the yard again all day Sunday so I still didn't get at it. Hope your exercising is going well. You look great.

    Nas : The older we are, the more we can remember contrasting prices. I suppose the very young think these prices are normal. It probably gives them more peace of mind. Ha.

    thank you dear bloggy friends for your special comments. My love to everyone. Manzanita

  36. In 1971, I recall 27 cents a gallon gas and being able to drive far on it because I drove one of those economical small box cars that could get 30 miles per gallon. By now, we should all be driving vehicles that can get between 30 and 60 miles per gallon. The oil and car companies would still make a tidy profit of us; but, no, it's more important that we cater to their greed. Oh, don't even get me started on groceries. I'll say this though. Our average grocery bill comes to about $150/week. 9-10 years ago, it was about $60/week. Same kind and amount of food, and we do our best to buy organic and natural. It's a good thing we moved in with the mama. On her limited income, she wouldn't have been able to eat, stay warm during the winter, and watch TV (her only entertainment). Fortunately, she no longer could drive at that point, so that was one less bill to think about.

  37. Hey! I don't have a crystal ball,but I'd pick food any day over fuel. Then again I live in NY and don't need to drive, but regardless once when I had no money and didn't live in NY with no car I rode my bike everywhere. I hope it doesn't ever come to that again, but food wins out for me any day!

  38. A choice between food or fuel. I am a great advocate for public transport. Unfortunately where I am located in the US no-one knows what public transport is. Such a shame.....where have all the trains and buses gone.

  39. Climb2nowhere : If I lived in NY I wouldn't have a car, either. I don't even think I'd dare drive in NY. I drove there once when I was 20 and with a tiny baby, no less but I was either wiser or more foolish then. Ha.

    Ann : I go for the public transportation too. But sometimes I think I drive just for so my dog can go with. Expensive dog, huh???

    Thank you for the nice visit and comments. Love you, Manzanita

  40. I spent $231 on a week's worth of groceries. Granted some of it was nonsense stuff that I really don't need, but the kids like it.

    I had 1/2 tank of gas. Gas price was $3.49. That's DOWN .40 from about a week ago or so.

    I topped the tank. I knew a twenty would do it. And it did. I wanted to take advantage of that lower price because I wasn't sure it would stay that low (if you can call it "low") for how long. It's a 6cyl. Chrysler. But it eats gas.

    No reason gas should be this high. We have direct pipelines. We have our own reserves. The oil we get that goes to our refineries for gasoline comes from Mexico, Venezuela and Canada. It just doesn't make sense.

    I will say ethenol is wreaking havoc with my gas milage and engine. It's screwing up my sensors.

    Eating is overrated..just kidding. Easier resource to recover than gas. But if the government doesn't do more for the American farmer as far as taxes go, we'll loose them to developers.

    This is a very good question! Great post!

  41. Gosh... I don't know. Fuel is awfully expensive now though. We're really grateful for our Prius, but then again, we live in Hawaii.

  42. I remember when gas was 29 cents a gallon, the attendant washed my windows, checked the oil and tires but I only made $2.25 an hour.

    My first apartment was $110 a month and Mom worried that Hubby and I would not be able to make the rent. Mind you, her house payment was $65 a month.

    Times are different and so much harder. I worry our Country is so far in debt, my grandchildren will feel the effects.

    I agree with Rosalind, every time I drive by a theater, or restaurant, the parking lots are full. Every Fast Food place has customers waiting in line. We rarely go out to eat and seldom to the theater. I do not know where people are getting their money.

    Time will tell where this will lead us. We have a great
    Country and I have faith

    "A fairy will pop down from the sky and bring her crystal ball to turn our economy around. I will go outside tomorrow and pick $100 dollar bills off the MONEY Trees, people will stop abusing children and animals, young people will have respect for their elders, there will be no more wars, people elected to our government will be honest with high morals, the media will be unbiased, teachers will be paid what they are worth and will be worth what they are paid.
    A cure for cancer, diabetes, parkinsons, MS is and all debilitating disease is found..
    Yes, that is my dream, please don't wake me up!