You know I’ve been preaching about the rising food costs lately–that’s why I started my monthly “Grocery Benchmark Report”, to keep an eye on things!
Well I came across this article on MSNBC/Today Online: “Your Grocery Bill is Getting Higher, and Higher” While the entire article is interesting (although not exactly a shocker) this line really jumped out at me:
The price of food at home is projected to rise by 4 to 5 percent this year, and another 2 to 3 percent next year, according to the Agriculture Department.
Wow! They linked to the USDA site “USDA Food and Economic Research Service“, so I went over there to take a look at their Food CPI and Expenditures: CPI for Food Forecasts. The chart was last updated on Nov 25, 2011, so this is uber recent information.
To start with the historical data: in 2009 over the course of the entire year there was a 1.8% increase in the price of food. In 2010, the yearly increase was .08%–which to be fair was something like the smallest amount of food inflation since the 60’s.
This year? In 2011 as of Nov 25th there was a 3.5% to 4.5% increase, and projected for 2012 is another 2.5% to 3.5% on all food.
If you look at the project cost increase breakdown for specific categories for 2011 and 2012:
. 2011 2012
Beef and Veal: 8-9% 4.5-5.5%
Pork: 6.5-7.5% 3-4%
Poultry: 2.5-3.5% 3-4%
Eggs: 5-6% 2.5-3.5%
Dairy: 5-6% 3.5-4.5%
Fresh Fruit&Veg 3.5-4.5% 3-4%
Now I don’t bring all this up to scare you. Well, ok, maybe I do actually want to scare you just a little bit–because here’s the big question.
What are you going to do?
If everything costs more, well then you have two options-you either have to make more money or you have to spend less. Unfortunately for most of us earning more money on a regular basis isn’t really an option–so that leaves spending less.
Spending less money long term means changes–long term changes–in lifestyle. You can’t just push it off till next month, charge a bit more on your card or whatever delaying strategy you might have. Eventually it will be time to pay the piper.
So stop now and think. What will we have to change?
And even more importantly, to my mind, is how can we introduce those changes to our family in such a way that they accept them instead of rebelling against them?
Can you start with little changes like, oh, reducing the amount of meat in your meals by just a bit? Adding a meatless meal or a soup meal once a week to your rotation? Resisting the temptation to eat out? Using the library for books, cds and movies instead of buying or renting new?
What about other things? Will you start driving less? Lowering the kids expectations about lessons, camps, random trips into the mall? Date night at home instead of at the movies?
What about raising expectations? Slowly working your kids into the idea that they might have to help around the house more? Including them in cooking so that they are excited about meals at home? Getting everyone used to the idea that a garden is fun and tasty and-oh-might actually be necessary to help the family? Enjoying a night with friends at your own home for dinner instead of meeting them out? Really getting engaged in your neighborhood and community so that you can help other folks out and maybe, if needed, get some help in return. . .
This is a long haul folks, not a short slide. We all need to spend some time thinking about and digesting the changes that may need to happen. I know some of you out there might not agree, but I really don’t think things are going to turn around any time soon-and all these frugal “tips tricks and techniques” we’ve been talking about for so long might become more necessity than novelty.
It’s natural to avoid thinking about unpleasantness. We all do it sometimes. But today I’m asking you to think, really think about all those things you’ve been trying NOT to think about. Not because I want you to be upset or to feel bad, but because you can’t start to solve a problem, to make a plan, until you’ve really taken some time to think about it.