I bought a new vehicle last week to appease my husband.
I wanted to drive my car until it dropped. After all, it only had 103,000 miles on it.
But when the automatic transmission started shifting like a standard at the hands of a novice driver and my children thought I had jammed on the brakes at a stop sign, when it was actually just slam-shifting into first gear, I conceded defeat.
I had already plowed big bucks into the car over the last 12 months and it looked like the vehicle was entering a second “nickel and dime” stage – more like a Ben Franklin stage.
Buying power. Seated in my new ride, my fiscally-astute son Jon said, “I thought you weren’t going to buy this right now.”
“Well,” I answered, “we’ll just have to watch what we’re spending and maybe not eat out at Pondi’s so often,” referring to a restaurant in Lisbon that’s so convenient when our lives are going at a breakneck pace.
The reference to food got his attention. He’s nearly 14 and starts looking for a snack as soon as he gets up from the dinner table.
Even though we did have hot dogs for dinner last night (I kid you not), Jon doesn’t have to worry about going hungry. The week I was signing on the dotted line was also the same week this nation celebrated “Food Check-Out Day.”
What a deal. Feb. 7 was the day most Americans have earned enough disposable annual income to pay their food bill for the whole year.
According to the American Farm Bureau, the average American earns enough income in 37 calendar days to pay for all the food he’ll consume this year. In general, U.S. consumers spend 10 percent of their disposable income on food. In comparison, consumers in Japan spend 26 percent on food; in India, 51 percent.
You should note, too, that it takes the average American more than 100 days to pay his federal, state and local tax obligation.
And the percent we spend on food is dropping. In 1970, the Farm Bureau notes, Food Check-Out Day would have been Feb. 20, not Feb. 7.
The trend is particularly notable because we’re spending more of our food dollar on more expensive food eaten away from home or on pricey convenience items to speed up meal preparation at home.
For your dollar, you get nutrition, comfort, convenience, quality, research and innovation.
For your dollar, you’re also getting the safest food in the world.
It’s money well spent.
And I’ll have money left over to make that first car payment in March.