Know what I mean? On one hand, I feel like I want to have an even larger emergency fund than usual and get really frugal with my spending. On the other hand…this is a great time to get a bargain on a car, do home improvements (since builders and other workers are anxious for business), invest in our retirement funds while prices are low, and so on!
It’s driving my consumer brain crazy! Anyone else?
Whenever I’m poring over grocery ads and clipping coupons, I wonder: Are we big food spenders compared to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations? I don’t feel like we buy a lot of expensive or convenience food, yet somehow I’ve always had a gut instinct that we are spoiled shoppers compared to the families who came before us.
And eating out? I remember going out maybe once every other week when I was a kid in the 1970s. My own family today (2 parents, 2 kids) goes out slightly more often—maybe twice a week. And my husband eats lunch out more often than my dad (a consummate brown-bagger). So I often feel a pang of guilt when we pay a restaurant bill.
Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren did a comprehensive comparison of American spending patterns in the 1970s compared to today. And guess what: We aren’t blowing our paychecks on expensive restaurant meals and designer clothes after all.