We Better Learn to Live With Less

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The fact that we are living in hard times has been the discussion on a mystery writers' list I belong to. Writing, publishing and how to publish is their usual conversation. Hard times' issues have crept into people's lives so much that they are chatting about it everywhere.

We are all aware of the hard times. The question is what are we going to do about it. I have written about investment and mortgage decisions. We need to get down to consumer issues.

Americans are spoiled, wasting money every week when they don't have to. Oprah did a show recently, challenging two families to change their wasteful habits. They threw food out instead of eating leftovers. They left soda liters in the frig opened and after three days dumped it. If snacks were still opened a week later before the food shopping day, they were trashed. Apparently, they never heard of plastic containers.

Both of the families were only allowed one hour a day of TV and computers only for homework. The thermostat had to stay at 70 degrees. Both families struggled to keep the rules.

I recently ran into a woman at the bus trip on my way to the 99 cents store. While we were waiting, she commented that she could live out of the 99 cents store. She did admit to buying some commodities elsewhere. I got to wondering could I? I would have to give up fresh meat that I like along with some prepackaged salads. Hmm, things could be worse. We are used to the best and to hell with the cost.

She pointed that she didn't shop at the more expensive grocery stores unless it was their sales days. You don't have to wait on the newspaper or sales papers, all major grocery stores show you what they have to offer online.
We all complain about gas prices. Do any families take a look at how they could actually decrease their driving weekly? Buses can be taken to do errands. Carpooling can work for grocery shopping with a couple of Moms. I did it. A friend recently decided to park his car and opt for a bus pass to work. It helped, of course, that he moved down the street from a bus that would take him pretty close. His compact car was costing him $48 a week. Most, I realize, pay more. However, do we have to? Most neighborhoods have corner convenience stores within walking distances. Every time you are out of something, it doesn't mandate getting in the car.

Los Angeles County has maintained a countywide carpooling database for over a decade. Call and you can find someone to hook up with for your daily trip. Have your company dedicate a weekly carpooling day. Look towards ways to have more employees telecommute. Try to find new hires who either take the bus or carpool. Offer to pay for employees' bus passes.

We, as a nation, can stop buying into the urge to upgrade. No one needs the latest version of software, TVs, iPods and the 'latest' fashions. Stop keeping up with the Jones should be on the presidential candidates' campaign agendas.

It's better to learn to live with less before the loss of a job or the collapse of the economy mandates it. We don't know what's coming around the corner. There will be predictions for quite awhile. We can, however, do what we can as individuals and spread the word.

Recycle, cut down on driving, turn off the extra lights, shop only when there are sales and talk about your drive towards a more efficient life to anyone willing to listen.

Laura Bell is Freelance Writer and owner of www.bellbusinessreport.com. The Bell Business Report offers common sense business advice and how-to info for running your business. It takes the everyday headlines apart, dealing with business news, and shows you how to put that information to work for you.

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