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The economy: Fighting back

Posted Friday, April 25, 2008, at 2:33 PM

Seems like it's been nothing but dire economic news the past few days.

*Some Asian countries are cutting back or eliminating shipments of rice to the United States, according to NBC News. Meanwhile, other foods are being cut back and rising fuel prices affect prices of American-sourced food.

*Some auto dealers are refusing to accept large SUVs as trade-ins, while those which do can't sell them.

*And gas prices just go up and up.

*Home foreclosures seem to be escalating. I've never seen so many at one time as we now have in the T-G's print editions.

Most of these problems can be traced back to either Big Oil's greed or loans being given to people who had little hope of making the payments long-term.

I'm not sure what the solution is. But I'm beginning to pay closer attention to prices of what I buy.

How are you dealing with this economic crunch or what, if anything, are you cutting back on?


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We stopped running the heaters in the garage that were helping keep my plants alive and to keep it warm enough for me and my husband to shoot pool a while back. I've stopped warming up the tanning bed 3 or 4 times before using it. Stay on the kids for doing small loads of laundry and especially leaving them in the washer or dryer and starting them over after letting them sit. Use lamps with low watt bulbs rather than over head lights. I'm learning to cook smaller portions, we always have leftovers that don't get ate. Big waste there!

-- Posted by Disgusted on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 3:25 PM

We only leave town when nessisary. My husband commutes to Nashville five days a week, so our out of town trips are now very minimal.

Our vacation this year will consist of a trip to Nashville Zoo, and Opry Mills Mall, instead of Myrtle Beach, SC.

I buy all store brand foods, and only nesessities.

We have our own garden, use swiggly light bulbs, and I just put a clothes line.

-- Posted by Mary on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 4:34 PM

Maybe the lack of Asian rice will help rice growers in places like Louisiana,Arkanas,the Carolinas,Mississippi.Georgia,East Texas and California.

We could encourage increased domestic use of rice and exportation from areas that are economically depressed (like those that have suffered natural disasters.)

We might start living more according to common sense.

While the biting insects are still scarce,we're using Nature's air conditioning all we can and plan meals and wardrobe to fit the weather.

(We air dry and hand-wash all we can,too.)

We,too,use energy efficient bulbs and appliances and try to do stuff during the day when we can use daylight to see by.

Trips by car are fewer and better planned so we don't make a dozen short runs for shopping and other errands.

We use t.v. and computers less and books,walks,conversation and hobbies more.

We've rediscovered "unplugged games".

A lot of these tactics we used in the seventies and during the post-war era but cheap power and a more affluent lifestyle made us lazier and less thrifty.

We don't need fancy lawns,lights on in every room and able-bodied,unencumbered people riding in their car from Kroger to Burger King or from the Fly to the picture show.

(Try parking one place and walking from one spot to the other.)

A thrifty,"retro" lifestyle needn't be a hardship.

It just takes a little thought and dedication.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 5:05 PM

My wife does not use the dryer and she hangs everything out on the clothes line. We think twice about going anywhere and try and combine trips to town with my son and daughter. We are planting three gardens this year and my wife is good at canning. I have purchased 47 baby chicks to raise for eggs and food( they are about 8 weeks old now). We have our own supply of fish also. It looks like it may also be a good fruit year.

My wife and I were lucky enough to be taught how to live off the land when we were growing up. I feel sorry for the people that only have a lot and house and only know how to go to the store for their food and most young people thinks that fast food is the only food that there is.

-- Posted by Gale Barber on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 5:13 PM

Unless you have a large family is it really cheaper in the long run to grow your own food?

I have always believed it is cheaper just to buy what I need when I need it, than to plant a garden. By the time you buy seeds, fertilizer, bug sprays and etc. Then pick and can or freeze what you can't eat right away, seems like a lot of expense. Or maybe I am just looking at it this way because I hate to work in a garden. :>)

-- Posted by Dianatn on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 6:01 PM

I love tomatoes and tomato juice, and my wife will can enough to last all year. I make a lot of chili during the winter and use a lot of canned tomatoes. There is always a jar of tomato juice in the refrigerator. This is always great for the grandchildren and a lot better than soft drinks.

As far as fertilizer, we clean the cattle barn out and put it in a pile. After it sets for a couple of years, it does the trick on the garden. You just make a new pile each year!!!!

We are retired and during a garden is just part of farm life.

I also forgot that my wife got the old fan out this year and has not run the AC. I remember as a kid (before AC), if it got real hot we would spend a hugh amount of time on the porch or setting out under the shade tree. There was a lot more family time back then due to not being on the road all the time.

Now we did a lot of sports, but they were out in the field behind the house. We played every Sunday evening at a different house and all rode bicycles to and from. I guess we had a limit of about 5 miles each way. No one worried about us out on the roads on bicycles back then. We also did a lot of field trips on Sat., corn fields, cotton fields, hay fields, etc. ha ha

-- Posted by Gale Barber on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 7:32 PM

I live by myself, but my parents and I plant a garden at their place. For me the plus side to a garden is I know I have the freshes vegetables available and I know how they were grown. I am not a fresh tomato eater (yet), but I know nothing is better than fresh tomatos over store bought, and the same goes for cukes and peppers. I am not the best gardener yet, and my Dad is less able to help as the years go by, but I am learning.

-- Posted by Sharon22 on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 7:50 PM

This would be a great time for the community to consider more pedestrian friendly roadways. I like to ride my bike and walk places that are fairly close, but would never try it in this town. There is NO excuse for the roads to remain as narrow as they are. Any progressive road committee would have realized this years ago. Any one know how to get THAT ball rolling?

-- Posted by gottago on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 8:08 PM

I have a question about the flourescent "squiggly" bulbs, for the ones that have them, because I have thought about getting them. I heard that they are really dim, and dont always work well until they are warmed up, and have you noticed any difference in your electric bill. I was also under the impression that when they break they put a dangerous amount of mercury into the air. I just hate to spend the money on them if they dont live up to the hype.

-- Posted by greasemonkey on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 11:15 PM

Greasemonkey,

My parents have one that is an outdoor buglight and it is not as bright as a reqular light. They do contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin and requires special disposal. I don't think it is released in the air, but can seep into the ground.

-- Posted by Sharon22 on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 11:29 PM

I have a few through out the house. The main reason I went to them is I was told they last a lot longer than regular light bulbs. I was replacing my kitchen bulbs at least once a month with the old style bulbs and I bought the good kind, just so I didn't have to replace them so often but was still replacing once a month. So I bought a couple of the twisted bulbs and they have been in now over 3 months and haven't gone out yet...(I say that and they will probably go out tomorrow) I have noticed they aren't as bright. I haven't noticed my electric bill getting any lower though.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 12:07 AM

I wash all clothes in only cold water..I do not use a dish washer..we just try to cut back and save as much as we can..Now that nice weather is here we will use the grill alot..I feel like no matter how much we try to cut back ..That the way things keep going up it feels like a loosing battle..We have never had the extra money to do alot of things or go alot of places any way...We have always lived from pay check to pay check...It is just a little harder to stretch the money every 2 weeks...But were there is a will is a way....

-- Posted by rebelrose on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 1:30 AM

Sharing a garden or doing a container garden could make it easier for an older or single person to grow some of their own food.

Another green and frugal habit is "recycling" things already here by buying antiques,getting items from yard sales,flea markets,freecycle,Craigslist,e-Bay, Goodwill,etc.,swapping goods,buying or renting older homes,salvaging materials,getting books from the library and passing on unneeded items to other people.

Giving of time,effort and "pre-loved" posessions can take the place of some cash donations to good causes.

Another help has been taking advantage of the 'Net.

Reading the online versions of favorite books,magazines and newspapers saves space,money and paper over the traditional versions.

Talking in chatrooms and e-mailing is cheaper than talking long distance and buying stationary and stamps.

Online socializing saves on grooming (cosmetics,hair and nail upgrades,water for extra bathing),gas,good clothes, restaurant bills and other entertainment expenses.

Online purchasing saves on going out of town to get things that can't be obtained locally and can prevent impulse buying of items not in the budget.

I recommend looking online for money-saving hints,coupons,recipes,consumer reviews,etc.

Look into buying clubs and discount plans for frequently purchased medicines and non-perishable items.

(Go in with friends or family on bulk purchases.)

Speaking of friends and family,don't forget that getting pets from a shelter is an infinitely better use of resources than breeding them or buying them from pet mills.

Probably the best "economic" lesson I was given is that it's cheaper to get high on the sheer joy of living and the chance to learn,share love with others and get involved with the world than to rely on things like luxury items,status symbols,controlled substances and other artificial add-ons to provide pleasure or a reason for being.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 4:11 AM

Greasemonkey . . .

I have replaced all my lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs and they definitely make a difference. Not only are they brighter than the regular incandescent light bulbs, but they last much longer and they use less electricity. The compact fluorescent light bulbs are more expensive but that is offset by the fact that they last a lot longer than the regular light bulbs and they use less energy to operate(instead of using 60 watts on a regular lights bulb, the cfl light bulb uses only 13 watts). Yes, there is mercury in the base and you need to be careful in disposing them but I have yet to have one break on me and have had no issues with them. Also, when you first turn on the compact fluorescent light bulbs, they are dim for about ten seconds as they warm up and then they are fine and remain bright until you turn them off again. This is not an issue at all . . . especially when you are saving money.

Here is a tip: The Wal-Mart brand of compact fluorescent light bulbs are just as good as the GE brand but they cost a dollar or so less so they are definitely a better deal. I think you can get a four pack for six dollars and some change while the GE brand is close to eight dollars.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 9:01 AM

Clothes line.

Garden veggies from freezer.

Less meat and milk.

Brown eggs from mom in laws chickens.

Store brand items when offered.

No plastic bottled drinks/water.

No two litter drinks.

No dishwasher (its broken anyway).

Buy in bulk and freeze.

Cook large portions and freeze.

-- Posted by mmp84 on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 9:12 AM

Ang wouldn't ya know it, today we had to go buy a new refridgerator! That really makes me ill. Can't win for loosing....

-- Posted by Disgusted on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 4:31 PM

I've decided to add tomatoes and peppers to my flower beds in front of my house this year. I told my husband my Southern Roots are coming out,(we live in a house addition with neighbors who look down on that sort of thing). I love to shake things up a little.

As far as the gas prices everyone blames the oil companys, like Exxon BP and ect. they have to buy the oil by the barrel and if you pay attent to the market or even the news you will see that the cost is over $100 a barrel. The Oil companys are not making a killing, I'm amazed they are still able to keep a float.I'm sure someone will disagree with me but if you check the facts you will see.Go to one of the stock market web sites and put in the name of an oil company. It will show you info about the company including how much money they take in.My husband owns stock in a oil company and he gets a yearly report from the company and believe me he is not getting rich from the stock.

Also maybe go over and talk to someone at Canter Oil I'm sure they are hurting a little now to with the gas prices.

-- Posted by redcat00 on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 4:58 PM

My "squiggly" bulbs are lasting about a year and a half. I dated them so I could keep up with it. That was my main reason for using them, I was changing bulbs all the time. The light they put off seams more of a yellow light instead of bright white. I can't tell that they helped the electric bill.

-- Posted by wahoo on Sat, Apr 26, 2008, at 6:48 PM

Sounds like we have some good gardeners out there who sure could contribute to our new gardening group. We usually meet every other Friday night at the Hong Kong Restaurant on Madison Street, but we are trying to start one for Sunday night.

I have the Chamber of Commerce reserved for a class I am teaching on Sunday afternoon the 11th of May, and we could have the garden meeting right after it. Both garden meetings start at 6:30 and last about 2 hours. The next Friday meeting is May 9th. There is no formal structure, just gardening talk.

This is true, down in the dirt gardening. While we do some socializing, the main topic is gardening of ALL types. Please consider checking one of them out.

We try to swap plants and seeds whenever possible. Mary brought us squash plants this past Friday, and we have had seeds, watercress, catnip, lemon mint, garlic chives, African violets, sage and more in the past. If I do not give them away before then, I will bring some tomatoes, eggplant, zucchinis, etc.

Maybe it will be a good place to bring our produce as well, later in the season. One of our members asked if we could plan a hands-on canning meeting. Maybe Gale's wife would be interested?

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 9:44 AM

If folks can put marigolds and such with their 'maters,why not put peppers in with your dahlias and feverfew?

They even have articles on such matters.

"Toward a new garden: Planting vegetables among the flowers

Sunflower family (Asteraceae): lettuces, chicories, calendulas, artichokes, celtuce, endives, marigolds, and tarragon

Flowers: violas with early lettuces, larkspur, poppies, forget-me-not, sunflowers with artichokes

Cucumber or gourd family (Cucurbitaceae): melons and winter squash, cucumbers, summer squash, pumpkins

Flowers: nasturtiums with sprawling squash, morning glories on trellis with sprawling squash

Nightshade family (Solanaceae): peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and tomatillos

Flowers: marigolds, zinnias

Goosefoot family: beets, chard, orach, spinach

Flowers: violas and pansies

Mint family (Lamiaceae): basil, mints, oregano, rosemary, sages, summer savory, and thyme

Flowers: lavender with oregano, rosemary, sages, thymes, cherry tomatoes with basil and mints

Lily family (Liliaceae): onions, shallots, garlic, asparagus, chives, leeks,

Flowers: ornamental alliums

Mustard family (Brassicaceae): arugula, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, collards, cresses, kale, kohlrabi, komatsuma, mizuna, mustards, radishes, and turnips

Flowers: ornamental kale, cool weather bloomers like pansies for broccoli, hot weather bloomers like zinnia for collards

Parsley family (Apiaceae): carrots, celeriac, celery, chervil, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, lovage, parsley, and parsnips

Flowers: Cosmos

Pea family (Fabaceae): beans, cowpeas, fava beans, lima beans, peanuts, peas, runner beans, soybeans, sugar peas

Flowers: snapdragons and sweet peas

Fruits: grapes, strawberries, raspberries

Flowers: consider tiny spring bulbs for strawberries like snowdrops or species tulips"

Your vegetables will not only have pretty,sweet-smelling neighbors,they'll benefit from the pollinating they'll get from insects visiting the flowers.

redcat,any who get "all shook up" can investigate the long,world-wide history of people growing everything from grapes to apples to kitchen herbs to sunflowers right along with the roses and rhododendrons.

(They even kept rabbits and ornamental fowl for meat,vermin control and droppings for compost.)

Next year,they may be growing berries and corn and scuppernongs along with you.

(But,if you really need to frost uppity folk while you garden,try some old bedsprings as trellises,a satellite dish gazebo and a trampoline frame to support climbing or hanging plants. ;) )

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sun, Apr 27, 2008, at 5:44 PM

Thanks Quantumcat I'll let you know how the neighbors respond especially after I work in my flower/veggie garden in an old pair of my Dad's overhauls,lol.

-- Posted by redcat00 on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 9:19 AM

For the comment about oil co. not making much money....three of the top five Fortune 500 companies just released were oil companies.

The other two in the top five were Wally World and GM.

-- Posted by reader_2 on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 9:43 AM

The squiggly bulbs lowered my electric bill by about $15 a month when I got them all changed out. I have only replaced one in 2 years. They are only dim for about 3 or 4 minutes and aren't nearly as hard on your eyes. They don't get hot so you should definitely used them near thermostats.

I use a clothesline most of the time.

I dilute cleaners or make my own.

If I can't get it on the way home from work, I don't get it until I go back to work. My car rarely leaves the driveway on the weekends.

We had the cable and landline cut off.

I buy meat in bulk and freeze it.

Coupons! and I shop at Kroger to get the gas discount.

I had a 10% pass at Target and used it on tax free day this past weeked. I got some jeans and two shirts for less than $25.

We have a garden, but all we have to buy are plants/seeds. We have horses and the neighbors have cows (free fertilizer) and we use minimal pesticides.

We used to like to feed shelled corn to the horses, but its getting close to triple cost, so we just feed 10% co-op feed.

#1 If I don't need it, I don't buy it.

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 11:26 AM

Forego "bought" drinks and go for nature's best - tap water! A Brita filter pitcher (from Walmart or Kroger) makes it taste good.

Home-made soup and home-made bread are economical and a tasty treat.

The Kroger brand products - labeled "Private Edition" are cheaper and usually better quality than the name brand. For instance, the creamed spinach is sometimes $1 per package, and its made with "real" ingredients, but the name brand costs more and is made with chemicals and dairy substitutes.

Inflate your tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure for improved gas mileage (mine went up 2 - 3 miles per gallon) (they were low!)

Hang clothes to dry instead of using dryer.

Food and gasoline are really eating into our budget. I don't know how those with less are making it. It worries me for others.

-- Posted by tenn native on Mon, Apr 28, 2008, at 4:14 PM

MMM homemade soups...

What are some good cheap recipes? I like to take one of those ham steaks chopped up and fried with chopped onions until the onions and ham get a nice carmel color, add it to either canned or cooked dry white beans,(I puree 1/2 cup of them to make the soup creamy) and chicken stock. Yummy and cheapo!

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 11:46 AM

Listen to you all. It's a shame that we have to post on this site, how we are forced to cut back on things that we Americans have come to know and appreciate over the years. Direct results of the high gas prices and increase costs for power and energy. We are the greatest country in the world, and we as citizens of this country should not have to stand for these energy conditions that have been forced upon us. I hold our national law makers, Senators, and this Congress personally responsible for this energy fiasco that we citizens must deal with in this day.

Since 1992 our lawmakers have railroaded us on "energy". They refuse to allow us access to our very own natural resources, our own oil here at home. Refuse to allow us to meet the growing demands to refine our own oil, for fuel to power our automobiles or heat our homes. They regulate into oblivion sources of energy like nuclear power, which today, with our technological foundation, can be affordable, clean and safe. If they are not regulating it, they are taxing it, like gasoline (18 cents per gallon), into oblivion as well.

Finally there has been recent talk of a summer holiday on the federal gas tax, but this Congress once again refuses to put the issue to a vote. They just can't seem to bare the thought of giving up some of their $300 trillion dollar a year profit from their federal gas tax, and IT'S OUR MONEY!!! That's trillion with a capital T, more than all of "Big Oil's" profits combined. So once again, it's we the citizens who are forced to suffer, forced to do with less while they, this Congress does not.

Does our Congress have a plan to solve this problem? No, instead they point fingers and blame others, block common sense solutions like "NOT" being dependent on foreign oil and even try to outlaw our parents' and grandparents' light bulbs.

There is a glimmer of hope in all this. This country is still a freely elected democracy, of the people for the people. WE, the citizens of this great country, can change our situation. We do it by voting these people out of office and replacing them with people who can and will help us increase the supply of oil here at home, make changes in policy, and manage tax revenues more efficiently so there is no need for a gas tax and so on. Why do we continue to re-elect these people? We have the power to make a change. Sure it may take a little time, but we can do it. The only thing more pain-full for me than a trip to the pump today, will be knowing that these people are re-elected, and my children's first trip to the pump will be more pain-full than that of mine. If we don't act now, then we shouldn't complain about our situation in the months ahead.

-- Posted by md4824 on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 12:26 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.