Voices of MainStreet: Scott Serene

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The Prices Keep Rising Like Lava
Feb. 18, 2011


Wait--the Great Recession ended? Maybe now I’ll get back the money my boss took away during all those pay cuts.

The fact is it hasn't ended, it may be in the process of ending, but it's certainly not over, though I wish it was. 

But Great Recession or not, shouldn't consumers be worried about the rising cost of goods anyway? Do people think we like to spend more money for the heck of it? 

I worried about the rising cost of my everyday needs when I made 30k plus more than I currently do now. 

But really: How can you not notice the rising cost of everything? From gas to groceries to household items, they are hitting you everywhere. You can't catch a break, and even with cutting coupons, you still feel the pressure to try and figure out what to do and when to do it.

With the way rising costs are affecting everything, you have to cut out the fun stuff. Those extras you buy your kids or the stuff that you treat your spouse to just isn't important anymore.

As for movies, paying $8-plus to see a movie is just not worth it. I'll watch it for free when it comes out on Redbox and I can rent from it with a free code. 

Cds and DVDs I'm not buying, either. Why? Because if you let me buy this junk then I won't pay my bills! 

My family is feeling the squeeze from rising costs, but I have to wonder where the people are getting salary raises. I need one of those jobs. 

I mean, I'm lucky to have a job but I was promised years ago that I would get back my money from pay cuts, but I've still gotten nothing. 

Essentially, I cant keep up. I have to cut corners by paying one bill late this week and a different bill late next week. We use the heck out of coupons and that saves a large amount of money, but even so, we are still struggling.

Memories about stuff costing less don''t faze me. I care about trying to keep my family afloat and paying my bills. The memories I want are of my lights staying on.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

I “Heart” You

Feb. 4, 2011

You know Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. Every place you go you are hit with "Buy this" or "Buy that" signs. I have come to believe that if we are going to show love and have a day when we tell everyone how special they are, can’t we do that every day of the year?

But companies and marketers want to focus on a specific day so they can benefit from everyone spending their money. "Hallmark Holiday" makes perfect sense to me. Just the name, I mean just that store alone is pink and red and covered with bears and hearts and gifts of "I Love You".

As far as celebrating Valentine’s Day, my wife and I don't buy anything for each other. Why waste money on something like that? Candy? We don't need it. We are not materialistic, so neither of us need any fancy gifts. We get a few small gifts for the kids and I will make time to do some crafts with them so they can give Mommy something.

If it is about love and showing you care, shouldn't it come from the heart? I will make my wife a nice dinner that she will enjoy and we will eat as a family. I try to show my wife I love her each and every day. It annoys me that there are some people out there that "FEEL" like they should get something from their spouse just because it’s Valentine’s Day. That is such a high-maintenance way of thinking and I can’t stand it. Be happy with what you have and spend time being creative together. It means more and you can use that money for something else.

I have never been big on receiving Valentine’s Day gifts. I have always been a pleaser type of person. So I used to go out of my way to make sure the person I was giving something to got the best. Now that has changed. With having kids, if I get something from them, like a homemade card, that is the best thing in the world.

Just like everything else, every other holiday, it is all about the money. Money has to be made and they have to market it and push it to try and make a buck. And no it doesn't bother or annoy me - like Bruce Hornsby once sang, "That's just the way it is".

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

You Can Take That to the Bank

Jan. 28, 2011

I have gone to the banks for loans before and still currently have loans out there with the banks. I say banks but what I really mean is credit union. I belong to a credit union and I have for the longest time. For some reason I find that I get better rates and service. I don’t know why but it just seems like that.

Being that I am in the business of repossession I have now seen that “having the power” can go both ways. For instance, I believe the bank holds the power over me. I don’t want to have anyone calling me or looking for me and bugging me about money I owe. I am really at the mercy of what they say. I borrowed it, so I pay it. But for some people, who don’t care about their credit or paying back the money they borrowed, they hold the power. I hear it all the time, “You can’t get what I don’t have”. It’s true, how can I pay you if I don’t have it, so that right there is where the banks lose power. A bank can do all kinds of stuff to people to try and get the money but, sometimes it is so hard to find people to get anything from them. I know it first hand, since that is what I do everyday.

I have lived here in Georgia for almost 10 years. That is the longest I have ever lived in one spot as an adult or as a person that is mature enough to be borrowing money. That is the reason I have never gone to a local or home-grown bank. I tend to steer toward a bank or credit union that my parents have used. They make very good money decisions and if it works for them , then it should be ok for me. I actually have a large bank for our mortgage and I have loans out with two credit unions. I think what scares me is that I believe that a
local home-grown bank is more likely to shut down than a large national bank. I feel more secure.

Regarding the bailouts, I think that what they were trying to do is help the banks and that would then help the people of America. I use the comparison of a shut off valve to a hose from the house. By relieving the pressure from the banks then I think the banks will take it  easier on the people. I’m not sure who it has helped out more though. Americans are still struggling and trying to find answers for themselves whereas the banks get the help from the government. And to be honest with you about whether I think the banks are on my side or not, the answer is NO. Why would they be? If I borrow then I need to pay it back. They want back what they gave me, so why be on my side?

Just like I need to watch out for my own, they need to watch out for themselves. It's OK, I understand it and I will continue to do what I do.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

A Game Within a Game
Jan. 21, 2011

Typically, we just stay at home for the Super Bowl.

We've gone places and had people over to the house before, but having a party, or even going to a party, gets treated like anything else--it has to involve and revolve around our kids.

You can't take kids somewhere and expect them to be satisfied for hours on end. I also don't think you can go to a party at someone else’s house and try to watch the game while minding your kids.

We stay at home because I'm a sports nut who wants to be able to watch them game and my kids. For me it's about the comforts of my own home, my own bathroom, my own food. Now, if we do happen to go somewhere, we will take food over (you can't go to someone’s house and not take anything), but going somewhere means you get home late then have to give kids baths and everything else.

For us, hosting a party is out of the question! Here's why: Years ago, my wife and I made some new friends, a couple and their little baby. So what did we do? Or what did the wife do, I should say? She invited the couple and the kid over for the game. Now, I am a friendly person and I will talk to anyone. But not during the Super Bowl! I was trying to sit and watch the game and this guy kept talking to me the whole game! And while he was talking to me, his son was going nuts all over the house, banging his head against the walls and floors. Later we found out he was drinking Dr. Pepper out of a sippy cup. Anyway, after that night, I told my wife never again.

We don’t go to any extra measures to watch the game . I can't afford to buy or rent a brand new TV, and even if my team was in the game, I wouldn’t go break the bank to have a wonderful set up. It's just one game. We do know people who have a huge get together with a big screen TV in the garage, a grill and the front yard loaded with people, however.

Going to a bar to watch the game is something I never have done and probably never will. You can't hear anything and it's just too crowded. You might get to experience it with a ton of fans and share the great time, but what if stuff gets out of control and you get caught in a bad situation? What then? It's so much easier and more relaxing to stay at home.

The highlight of the night is hopefully the game itself. I like the commercials too, but again, I am a sports fan. I just want to see the game!

If the commercials stink then all the time you spend waiting to see them just gives you a let down. Halftime shows are fun too if they're good. The past few years, they've stunk; they're trying to be too safe after the teeny tiny microscopic part of a breast was shown. The Black Eyed Peas, I am looking forward to seeing, though.

I guess we'll find out soon enough how this year's game turns out. Of course, if my team were in it, this would be an entirely different post.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

If the Car Fits, Drive It

Jan. 14, 2011

I have never been to the car shows. Actually, the only reason I know about the Detroit Auto Show is from reading about the cars online and then looking at pictures of them. I am always interested in the new stuff that comes out but it hasn’t been that much of a big deal for our family. And being that we won’t be shopping for a vehicle any time soon, I am not sure if we would look for a “green” vehicle or not.

First of all we have four children and we need something big enough to fit everyone in, like the minivan we have now or a SUV like a Chevrolet Suburban. As far as qualities that a vehicle has to have in order for us to even consider it, like I said: First thing is the room. Need to have room. Four kids, a stroller and whatever else needs to go has got to fit.

Carmakers need to remember that there are so many different kinds of people out here. Not all of us drive sports cars. Not all of us drive trucks. Not all of us drive little electric cars either so they need to just keep doing what they are doing. Make something for all of us. Yeah I am all for having “greener” vehicles but they need to remember that we need to afford them also. I do think that the auto industry is a bit out of touch. Seriously, do we really need Ford to make all these different Mustangs, or Chevrolet to make all these different Camaros? Just make the cars that make sense: Cars with good gas mileage, trucks with better gas mileage.

I mean we have a minivan and we love it. It has room and it drives well. We got a great price and interest rate on it, so that helps too. Would we be better off with something bigger like a Suburban or Denali? Sure, but the costs are too high. The cost outweighs the effectiveness. Me, I drive an Impala. I would love a truck. A truck to me seems to be a must if you own a home. You need to be able to get stuff home from places and get stuff out of the house. You can’t do that in a car or a minivan. Can we go out and buy one now? No. But a lot of families can’t get the vehicles they need due to cost.

On a personal note, there are things that we love about our Chrysler Town and Country. Aside from the financial points I mentioned, it has a great storage system called “Sto and Go” which is underneath the seating, and it really helps a lot to keeping extra clothes for the kids and supplies on hand. It is also great on trips for packing stuff you won’t need until you get to where you are going.

The van also has push-button auto doors. That is something we didn’t want at first but it has proven to be a huge helper for my wife. Loading four kids and groceries and whatever else she has in her hands is made much easier by pushing a button on the remote or on the console and having the doors open automatically. And being that I am in love with trucks and that is my dream vehicle, the only two things that I love about my Impala right now are a) it’s paid off and b) it has heated seats.

Until I get my truck, I will drive my warm-seated, paid-off Impala while the wife loads the kids into her awesome van.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

 

Don't Call Me Inspector Gadget

Jan. 7, 2011

I have never been to CES and probably never will but I do always read about it and try and learn about the new and improved things that are coming out.

When I think about all the new gadgets the first thing that comes to mind are the new TVs. What guy does not love a big new TV? I mean they are getting bigger and more advanced every year. Can they get any flatter? Phones peak my interest too. Now, while I do not own a smartphone, it's only because I can't afford one. I’m sure if I could afford one, I would have one and so would the wife.

New tablet computers and iPads and stuff like that are very interesting to me. I have this idea that having an iPad or a smaller laptop might help the wife and her home schooling of the kids since she can be on the move more easily. But I do not know enough about them to know if they can hold all of the information that she needs for the schooling. Would a smaller screen hurt more than help? I also wonder about having a computer that can be hooked to a TV so the kids can see the lessons on the TV. I bet they would love that. Do I think that technology would help us out? Sure. But can it hurt us too? Yes.

I would also love to find out how technology can help me in my attempts to provide a better blog. I want to blog about my family but I would also like to add new elements to my blog and make it more appealing to others. Technology has played a small role in our lives. We are not up on all of the latest things but some of the advances help our family. Internet coupons help the most. Printing coupons that you can get online makes a huge difference in our budget. Being able to home school from a laptop and have the kids being able to navigate and do some of it themselves is a great part too. Little things that go a long way for us. That is what matters. Those little things being a GPS - it helps the wife get to places she needs to go (if it has the right directions), but it does help. Things for the kids like being able to DVR kids' shows - that is big.

For the wife and I, being able to have cell phones has been the biggest thing about technology that has helped us in the past, present and probably the future. Letting her have the availability to call me about kids' appointments and other problems is the main reason I wanted her to have a phone. Now we text, tweet and can check e-mails from the phones. I can remember her saying “I don’t need a phone." Well, when you are carrying our baby you need a phone.

The only thing I can see changing in our home gadgets is the stuff we get for our kids as they grow up. I'm sure they will want more advanced stuff. I’m sure as things change we may have to change and adapt. Guess we will see and (who knows?) maybe the prices will come down and everyone can share in the world of new and fun techno toys.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

Just Do It!

Dec. 23, 2010

Getting your community to have a resolution is hard. Getting your community to do anything is hard.  Everyone is so different and when you finally get together and try to find common ground, there is always one person or one issue that throws it all off.

The only thing I really would like to see in 2011 is if everyone can get along. I know that sounds corny but so many times I think about how people were so nice to each other after Sept. 11. Why does it take something so bad to make people enjoy the company of others?

And while we are at people getting along, what is it going to take for people to start understanding that parents use different styles to parent, and that there are other methods out there? People need to open their eyes and try different things. How about not spanking or yelling at your kids? How about talking nicer to your kids than you do strangers? How about making your kids eat healthy and leading by example and you do the same?

As I say all of that about people being better parents and trying new and different things, I start to get into my own personal life resolutions. I have made major strides in my personal life and I make resolutions every year. Do I keep them? Heck no. But do I try? Yes.

First, just like every year I want to workout and exercise more.  Not so I can look good, just so I can be healthy. I want to continue to be an organic / green parent and raise my kids to be the same. I want to do a better job at being a parent. I want to learn more about how to deal with my kids in a manner that is not so aggressive. More talking, less yelling. More playing, less fighting. More fun, less stress. I want to be a dad that other dads will look to and say I need to be like him.

I want to do a better job of writing. I love to write and blog about my life as a husband and a father but I want to start leaving out all the goofy stuff that I blog about. I want to try and make a difference. Stuff I believe in such as breastfeeding and baby wearing and no spanking and certain parenting styles. I would love to be able to take some kind of writing skills, if I have any, and put it to use and support my family in that way. I also have a goal to write a book about home schooling and how much fun it is for kids and how it is a great way to learn.

I guess my overall resolution is to be a better person and that starts being better at home as a husband and a father.  If everyone have resolutions like that I think we would all benefit.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

This Circus Doesn't Travel

Dec. 20, 2010

OK, so pretend this post is in either my Allen Iverson practice rant voice or my Jim Mora playoff rant voice: Travel…Travel…We talkin’ ‘bout travel, are you crazy? Heck no we don’t travel during the Christmas holiday. There are so many factors why we don’t travel during the holidays.

For starters, ummm let’s see: We have four children, and if you have children you know how hard it is to travel anywhere with them. Begin by trying to pack for four kids for a trip, That is a mess. Tons of stuff. After you do all of that you are looking at trying to fly with four kids and tons of suitcases and car seats and everything else you need to take care of the children. It is not happening.

Oh yeah – did I forget to mention that I would need to take out a loan to afford all of the costs of flying a family of six somewhere? So let’s say we did manage to win the lottery and wanted to fly, do I really want some overzealous TSA agent thinking that my kids are going to sneak something on a plane and giving them a good pat down? No! I don’t put my hands on my kids and no one else is either. OK, so maybe I will let them go through the scanner and get a nice healthy dose of radiation in their little bodies. It just seems like it is a) too much trouble; b) too expensive; and c) too stressful.

Scratch the flying. Say we decide to travel by minivan. Well that would be the easiest way. I mean we do it when we go to Disney World every year. Oh man, I forgot that my wonderful job that I have been at for nine years only gives me one week of paid vacation. So taking a ten-plus hour trip to Virginia to see my parent for Christmas? Yeah, that would be nice to let the kids see some snow and go to Nanny and Paw Paw’s house. Sounds fun right? Shoot, how do we manage that? Two days there and two days back. You have to break it up with four kids. You enjoy a few days and then start driving back. Again, it just doesn’t seem worth it. Let’s do it! Wait, there is that one paid week vacation thing. How am I going to pay my bills? Right, I’m not!

Now after all of that, do you want to know the real reason we don’t travel during the Christmas holiday? We think the kids should enjoy Christmas morning in their home, with their stuff. Yeah, if you think about it, they would love Christmas morning just about anywhere as long as Santa knew where they were, but just waking up from their own beds and seeing their tree and opening their gifts and doing it all at their house I think makes it all that much more special.

Traveling has changed for four reasons and four reasons only: My four wonderful children. Any plans I make revolve around them. Where I will be, when I will be there and how long I will be anywhere, it all goes as the kids go and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

The First Cut is Always the Deepest

Dec. 13, 2010

Well I am by no means a political genius but I am a little familiar with the Bush Tax Cuts. How can you not be? It is all over the news and it was a huge part of the Congressional midterm elections. Now that the Republicans are soon to be back in power the Bush Tax Cuts have been one of the main things in discussions between the Democrats, Republicans and the President.

To be honest when the tax cuts were first introduced I don’t think it really affected me, and if it did I didn’t know too much about it. But you know when things happen in your life and it all changes – that is when you become more aware of things like the tax cuts.

As an employee in a small family company and a member of the working class I am in favor of the tax cuts and I’m in favor of them being extended for the middle class. Why should the rich get the benefit of not paying higher taxes? They can afford it a lot more than I can. I mean, we might all be created equal but our incomes are not the same. If you want to give the rich tax breaks then give them a little and give the middle working class and less fortunate a bigger tax break. Why should a person who makes millions of dollars a year get the same tax break as a person who just received a 50% pay cut over the last year? This seems insane to me.

I am having a hard time paying my bills right now as it is. We have made huge changes to how we live and what we do for the kids based on that pay cut I took. I don’t know how in the world I would ever be able to support a family of six on my salary without the tax cut being extended. What about the people who don’t even have jobs? Now, while I am not one to really worry about anyone other than my family, that could be me out on the street looking for a job and struggling even more than I am now. And being that I am not in the upper class of people I am going to assume that it is affecting the families in my community the same way it is affecting me. It is the politicians who are catering to the rich.

Why not take all that tax money from the wealthy and put it back into the economy and let’s see if we can turn this thing around. But from what I see right now, it is going to be us middle working class folk who are going to suffer.
Who do you see on the street looking for jobs or trying to keep their families afloat? The rich millionaires? No. Exactly.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

The Baron(ess) of Black Friday

Dec. 3, 2010

Shopping on Black Friday? Of course I went shopping on Black Friday. But what actually saved me this year was my willingness to step up as a dad and tell the wife to leave our 18-month-old son at home. She usually takes him, but it was late and I was confident.

She hit the early stores like Toys R Us; she was there for a while and finally texted me and told me the line was wrapped all around the building and down the street and it was still before 10 p.m. She said that her mom was going to wait in line for us and get what we wanted – I mean, we only wanted to get two items from the Toys R Us Black Friday sale. And after all of that, my wife's mom got in and they were out of one thing but she did get us the other item we have been wanting for the kids.

She also hit the local Wal-Mart since they were opening at midnight for some of the deals we wanted, but again it was only 10:30 p.m. and we were only wanting a few things from there. She said there were people waiting there but she came on home.

That meant I was hitting Target for the 4 a.m. deals. Well that didn't exactly work out. I got up and made the drive to Borders to get “The Elf on the Shelf”, for which I had a 50% off coupon. The lines were crazy long at Borders – people getting the digital readers and other goodies.

I was in line for an hour after it only took me 2 minutes to get the one thing I was there for. Then I went and stood in another long line: The line for coffee. I had a coupon for a free coffee at Borders and a million others had the same coupon. I stood in that line for another hour. So after two hours and two things I was finally on my way to Target. I thank the wife for doing most of our shopping before the crazy day, because everything that she put on my list to get at Target was stuff that no one else wanted. Glass cookware, knives, pillows, all of this stuff was there and I had no sweat dripping from me from trying to wedge myself in between non-showered people to get this stuff. After a two minute wait in line I was gone.

So I have to give props to the wife for looking for deals beforehand and doing some online shopping and using coupons because we actually scored better with the way she did it this year than having me make my body do weird things while fighting for stuff the kids wanted.

We are spending less this year, thanks to the efforts of the wife. Taking advantage of pre-Black Friday deals at Toys R Us and using coupons and E-Bates, she was able to score some killer deals. We even kept an eye out for the deals after the deals so we could go back and re-buy and then return things. You have to understand that my wife is the coupon queen. A big binder full of clippings and ads and she is looking for a deal no matter what we have to do. So I feel confident in saying that we did spend less this year than we have in the past. Part of that is because I don't make as much and we just can’t afford it and part of it is from the shopping around and taking advantage of the bargains.

As far as what we are spending money on. Well we have four children all age 7 and under. We are buying toys and toys and toys. The wife and I actually made the commitment this year to buy more learning stuff. They have toys galore and what do they need more toys for? We did most of the spending on Legos. Toy Story Legos to be exact. It is going to change every year, what we spend the money on. That is how it is with kids. As they change and get older so do the wants. It is up to us as parents to make the good decisions on spending and how we use our money at Christmas time.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

Operation Decorate

Nov. 29, 2010

See, it was the weekend before Thanksgiving and my wife was getting on me to pull out all of the outside decorations, and me being Dr. Procrastination didn’t want to. I felt it was too early. Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet and she is wanting the yard decked out. In her defense, it was because the weather was nice and she didn’t want me to get out there in the rain and cooler weather to put stuff up. Actually, she knew that I wouldn’t get out there in the rainy, cool weather so she was getting ahead of the game.

So, like any good husband that knows how to listen, I did get all of the Christmas tubs out and sat them in the garage nice and neat for her to see. This past Monday my wife and kids decided to set up some of the things outside. I will do more this weekend, maybe. Just depends on what else is going on.  Again, it isn't even December yet.

The neighbors decorate too. The houses in the subdivision do a pretty nice job at decking the yards with bells of holly and fake reindeer and blown-up jolly fat men. I don’t think we have any Clark Griswolds in the neighborhood but everyone does alright. Now as far as inside stuff goes, we only do a little bit of decorating. Part of the reason is that we have an 18-month-old and he will get into it if it is there. Another reason is that we don’t feel like dismantling the entire house and taking things down to put up Christmas things and then having to do the same exact thing a month later. We don’t see the need to have Christmas decorations up for months and months.

The joy I get out of decorating is the smile I see on kids' faces. It's never an obligation. It’s so nice when the kids can get excited about something. The joy also comes from the kids wanting to help put out decorations. The only new things we buy every year may be some new lights and maybe some new ornaments for the tree. My wife is very good at shopping around and saving money so she is just waiting for deals to buy things anyways. Classic? Yeah, that’s not what we call them. Things the kids have made and ornaments and decorations we have had over the years are what we put out year after year. Do we call them classics, probably not, but they are special to us as a family.

The wife and I were just talking about how our electric bill went down this month but will probably go up again from the outside lights and the tree lights. I am always worried about higher bills. Money is tight and a higher electric bill means money has to come from somewhere else, and since the winter is coming that means that the dollar tree in our yard is freezing up. I am not sure what the actual difference will be from lights being on this next month but it is something that my wife will keep an eye on for sure.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

Making Black Friday My BFF

Nov. 22, 2010

Ah, the one and only “Black Friday.” Just thinking about it is making me shake my head from side to side. Yes, Yes, Yes, I will be there. In the lines with the other husbands who are being forced to be there. In the lines with the women who have on NO makeup and look so scary that no one would dare steal an item from their buggy.

It’s 4 am. But, just like every other year when I say “I am never doing this again,” I end up in the same line, fighting with the same people. Waiting for the line police to move out of the way and begin the battle of buyers. List in hand and instructions from the wife on what things are more important than others, I try to talk myself into thinking that this is a good idea and that I will get the toys that the kids want. The same $2 food chopper that I get every year. The pajamas for the kids that are on sale. What am I doing? Is this really worth it? I lose hours of sleep while getting too close and personal with people that smell and don’t look nice. And after all of that, I still get to make my way to work and try to talk myself into thinking that the battle royal I took part in was all worth it.

After the day is complete and the wife and I look at the bags and bags and gather up all the receipts, I guess you could say that we come out looking pretty good. We usually only buy things that we have on our lists. Anytime you can get what's on your list and save money at the same time, you can pretty much feel good about what you accomplished. But really when you think about being satisfied with what you have purchased, isn’t that really decided when the kids open gifts on Christmas or see what’s under the tree from the jolly fat fellow? You can save a ton of money but if the gift isn’t loved what good does saving money do? If you buy something for yourself, then the effect of saving money and appreciating what you bought is felt right then and there.

Over the years my wife and I have never been big “Cyber Monday” shoppers. I can’t even remember a year when we made it a point to get online and buy something that we really missed out on or wanted to get. The way online stores are now trying to make it easier for you with things like free shipping might make us start thinking about doing a little Cyber Monday shopping. I’d rather stay up till 2 a.m. and shop online then get up at 3 a.m. and fight with Bubba and his wife at the local Wal-Mart.

As far as where we will be slapping down the plastic the day after Turkey Day, I think that Toys R Us will be awarded the chance to have us sign our name, being that they usually are on the list of early morning stops. Can’t forget to go and put some money in the pockets of the Walton family. As much as I hate it, I am standing in a crowded entrance at Wal-Mart every year. And I was informed that I will be making an appearance at a Target on the happiest of shopping days. So, no, I will not be spending my hard-earned money at the local ma and pa shops and you big retailers can welcome me with open arms. I can’t wait.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

Looking Out for Number One

Nov. 15, 2010

The Great Recession has affected me and my neighbors in some serious ways as a matter of fact and this question hits right at home because a lot is going on in my neighborhood right now.

The builder of our subdivision filed for bankruptcy and that left a lot of empty homes to be taken over by the banks and then rented out or sold for cheap. That right there was hard to swallow, I paid a lot for my house and then people are coming in and getting the same house for next to nothing. When this happened, the neighborhood started to go south. No street lights (still). No landscaping maintenance for the properties and the neighborhood looks bad. I have a wife and four kids, do you think I feel safe with no street lights?

I’m sure all of my neighbors feel the same about living in a neighborhood that is not being taken care of. So now we are trying to start a homeowners association and come up with dues to pay for that. I am having a hard enough time paying my bills and now I have to come up with the extra money. It's not as if I can go out back and shake the money tree.

Since the Great Recession has hit, the business I am in has been slower and that meant a 50% pay cut, no kidding, cut in half. Going from more than $80,000 a year to less than $40,000 has been really hard to adjust to. So, yeah, spending habits have changed and when that happened, my wife, who pays all the bills, started to really get into “Extreme Couponing.” She first started looking for items that were on sale and tried shopping at certain places for our groceries and supplies. But after learning of so many different websites and other ways to coupon she has now taken our family to a new level of saving money. Before couponing, our grocery and supply bill would be more than $800 a month for the six of us and since she has gotten into “Extreme Couponing” our monthly expense for food and supplies has been cut in half. She never buys anything unless it is "buy one get one" or she has a coupon. She has saved our family. We have also cut extras out that we just didn’t need anymore.

It's hard for me to say if my neighbors' household spending habits have changed. To be completely honest with you, I don’t care. I mean, I don’t want to sound like a jerk but I have to worry about my wife and kids. I have to worry about what’s going on in my house. Before, during and after the “Great Recession” my priority is my family.

—Scott is a dad of four who blogs about everything from being a daddy to his love for his wife and normal issues in his everyday life. You can check out ThisDaddysBlog.blogspot.com for more.

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