Friday, April 5, 2013

Shrinking economy

I tend to shop for groceries and household supplies once a week, ideally around payday. I attempt a strict budget but household items and food have gotten more expensive lately and there is a sneaky product shrinking trend. Take for example, the generic (Wmart brand) liquid hand soap, nothing fancy, no smell nor cute color, just the basic orange soap which I usually purchase in the huge refill size to pour into the old pump dispensers by household sinks. I don't buy it too often because it comes in a big bottle 64 oz. (1.99L) for about $3.85. Yesterday, I grabbed a bottle and when I got it home to refill the empty pump dispensers I noticed it was easier to squeeze... oh yeah, now refill-sized hand soap is in 56 oz. (1.65L) bottles at the same price! You know what, I do feel cheated, obviously there is no labeling that is going to clearly identify, "new smaller size at same old price."

I've noted this trend with ice cream, good luck finding a real half gallon of the stuff; detergent; crackers & cookies and any number of packaged foods. Industry is cutting costs by downsizing or cheapening the quality of a product. This makes me mad. It is not like I have more money to spend. Literally I am shopping, cell phone in hand, using the calculator tool to determine unit price a lot. Even pet food costs have become trickier to figure, frequently and counter-intuitively, unit prices are more favorable to the consumer by purchasing two smaller packages rather than one larger sized item. Ah, the joys of purchasing twice the disposable packaging to send to a landfill.

So, in the big scheme of life during our current depression/recession/sequester economy I think the general populace is on their own. Our government is surprised! at poor job numbers for March and stagnation in sales, but do they really care? Probably not so much, our politicians all have jobs and health insurance. They are not a bit concerned that a generic hand soap product is 8 oz. smaller and consequently more expensive. Any one who works today, boots on the ground, knows without any engineered political statistics, that in the past three years, job opportunities are not out there. Certainly no new hires have oriented at my workplace...

So what to do? I'll certainly take suggestions! I know that I make more food from scratch and I shop at thrift stores. I am always looking for bargains and negotiate costs. I pay bills timely and on occasion make weekly payments within the due date allowance. This Spring I will be attempting another season of vegetable production here in the yard. In the near future though, I seriously hope my children will be able to make a life for themselves in this economic desert. Perhaps an entrepreneurial spirit will be the necessary ingredient for success?

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