Ever thrifty, but especially so during these recent recession years, my wife and I have paid attention to a variety of TV shows, classes, and web sites offering advice for reducing utility and grocery bills. You’ve seen them–they promise to give you secret tips to cut yours bills in half, or some such thing.
However, we quickly became fairly jaded on any such concept after finding, time and again, that the amazing savings, the rock bottom level of spending that these clever tips and skills could offer, this budget boon due to paring away frivolity to a bare bones lifestyle and/or one devoted to cutting corners…still resulted in expenses that exceeded what we were already spending.
Honestly, some of the items we ran across made claims such as, “With our revolutionary approach to budgeting and bills, we can cut your grocery costs all the way down to a mere, skeletal $1000 a month!” I don’t think I’m revealing anything terribly personal by confessing that the Huston family spends significantly less than that on our monthly groceries as it is. The big, scary question here, of course, is, if there’s a market for telling people how to get their grocery bills down to $1000 a month, how much are they spending now?
But what this implies about our society’s idea of thrift, and what constitutes cutting back in our eyes, is far scarier still. I’m reminded of the old Simpsons episode where Homer abuses his company’s medical insurance so he can get some hair restoring tonic. When his boss, Mr. Burns, finds out about how Homer had bilked him, Burns cries out in frustration, “Blast his hide to Hades! And I was going to buy that ivory back scratcher!”
Alas, the recession: fewer ivory back scratchers for America.