Monday, March 10, 2008

My Lost $10 & My Shrinking Dollar

Woe to me!

I was Walmart last Saturday and I accidentally dropped a $10 bill onto the floor. By the time I discovered the loss, it was a goner. I had hoped someone would turn it in at the desk, but hope is the stuff that dreams are made of, and my $10 bill went to live with someone else.

I can still remember the days when the loss of a mere $10 wouldn't have had such an impact on my life. As I wandered the aisles looking for my runaway bill, I was almost in tears. Why did I care so much, I wondered. It was just $10 - a meal at McDonald's, a stop at Starbuck's, drinks at the drive thru... Then it hit me. I don't do those things anymore.

Now my $10 is for vanishing into my gas tank to buy me a few more trips. $10 gets me two gallons of milk or mailing a package to my husband overseas or a (very) small bag of groceries. That's why it hurt so much to lose it. It suddenly seemed like a precious lot.

The me that remembers abundance argues with the me that cries over a lost $10. The old me says that giving the kids water to drink at meals instead of milk or juice is not very nutritional. The thrifty me reminds her that Americans tend to be over sugared and soaked in fat, and in many other countries water is a beverage, not a punishment. The new, thrifty me usually wins. She has to.

The Dallas Morning News reported today that grocery prices are set to skyrocket. Huh? Isn't that old news? I thought they already did skyrocket! The thought that they may go higher makes me want to weep over my lost $10 all over again.

Bread has increased by 5.4% over the last year. That's because it's been a bad few years for wheat. It went from $3.50 a bushel in 2005 to $8.55 by January. All wheat products from pancake mix to pumpernickel go up. Fortunately, I still get my bread at less then a quarter a loaf, but still. What about donuts, cake and cookies?

It's time to look elsewhere. Some cultures don't depend on wheat as much as we do. Rice, beans, potatoes... they all make delicious starches for our table. How about growing sprouts in the kitchen for greenery instead of always buying high priced veggies that have been shipped from Timbuktu? It's easy, tasty, cheap and satisfying.

I've also been growing lettuce and cabbage all winter. At Christmas and Thanksgiving we had the best organic salads. They were fresh (picked minutes before eating), cheap (how much does a lettuce seed and some recycled dirt cost?) and gratifying. My youngest son was proud to help me cut lettuce for the table, lettuce he himself had helped to grow.

To provide protein in our diet, we invested in a few chickens for our back yard. They are free entertainment for all the neighborhood kids, save me from having to maintain a compost pit (they are the composters!) and the eggs are like nothing I ever tasted from the store - even the expensive Eggland's Best ones!

There's veggies and protein. I'm thinking about getting a dwarf goat for milk and cheese. Rice and beans are still pretty affordable. That pretty much takes care of our diet. Instead of thinking of food as something that has to come from the store, think of where it comes from and whether or not you can become your own source. And don't give me the excuse that you don't have a farm. Neither do I. We live in the city on .34 of an acre with a house in the middle of it.

Then $10 can go back to being $10, instead of something worth crying about.

By the way: I did finally pulled myself out of my pity party. I had to imagine a broke mom with hungry children finding my $10 after she prayed for a miracle. It helped...some.

1 comment:

Canny Granny said...

I couldn't help but notice that you think giving the kids water to drink at meals is not very nutritional.

Too much fruit juice (all that sugar) is bad for their teeth and too much milk (all that fatty mucous-forming dairy)is bad for their overall health. Water is good! You're doing the right thing giving them clean refreshing, revitalising water :)