We toyed with the idea of taking a special vacation this summer. Back in March my daughter in Wisconsin talked about traveling to Italy and wondered if we’d like to join them for a few days.

     A vacation in Italy? Sounded pretty cool. I checked American Airlines. A round-trip ticket was $985. Expensive, but doable.

     We didn’t hear any more about the trip from my daughter, so we didn’t do anything about it. Then last week, she brought it up again. I went back to American Airlines. Oops . . . now the round-trip fare is $1,359! It’s gone up by over $300 per person. And if the airfare has gone up, so too have the hotels, restaurants and anything else we’d want to do.

     So we’re not going to Italy this summer.

    We paid $504 to fly to Wisconsin in March. Now I was curious. So I checked. The price is now $622. I’m not sure if we’ll be going to Wisconsin this summer either. (And with gas at $4.59 driving isn’t any better.)

     It’s not like we canceled our trip to Italy. We hadn’t actually made the plans. It’s just that we decided not to do it.

     I wonder what you’re deciding not to do because prices have gone up.

     We are trying to save in other ways as well. We already cut back to one car last summer. And boy, it definitely helps the budget not to have to come up with that second car payment . . . plus insurance, registration, upkeep. And besides, with gas prices the way they are, we’ve actually been driving less.

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     I don’t think it’s been a conscious decision. But instinctively, we’ve been walking more, batching trips, going to our local supermarket rather than making the drive over to Costco. I bought a garden rake and bag of grass seed at our local hardware store, because I didn’t think it was worth driving down to Home Depot. I’d save a couple of bucks at Home Depot; but spend the savings on gasoline.

     We haven’t let go any of our newspaper or magazine subscriptions. But we were remarking just the other day:  the Sunday NY Times now costs $6.00. For one lousy newspaper! We’ll be looking at those subscriptions as they come up for renewal. Do we actually read them? Do we really value what they have to say?

     We will not cancel Netflix or Amazon. We watch a fair amount of TV on those two services. (I’m watching the latest season of Better Call Saul; B is watching Old Enough; and together we’re watching Friday Night Lights.) 

     But ordinarily, we might be signing up for HBO Max or possibly Hulu. Not now. Netflix and Amazon have both raised their prices, and we surely don’t need another streaming bill layered on top of everything else.

     I read recently that overall prices have gone up 8.3% since this time last year. The “typical” American family is spending $340 more per month just to keep up with the basics.

     The cost of food is up 9.4%. We’re still eating pretty well. That’s important to us, and so we pay the price. But we got out of the restaurant habit when Covid arrived two years ago. Lately, we’ve been thinking of going back now that the weather is warmer and we can eat outside. The other day we talked about going downtown to one of the outdoor venues. But then we thought — nah, let’s just do takeout. So we didn’t drop $50 or $60 on a restaurant meal, we instead spent $18 for takeout from our local chicken place. 

     So to deal with inflation, we’re cutting back on travel, driving, restaurants, streaming services. Are you doing anything to economize these days?

     A lot of us are on fixed incomes, so maybe you always have an eye toward economizing. Some people make a game of it — whether it’s clipping coupons, scouring Amazon or shopping the flea markets and seasonal sales. Others consciously limit their purchases to try to save the earth. If you don’t eat meat, it not only saves money, it saves the planet.

     But for us these days, it’s the prices that are setting the rules of the game.

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger