Brian Burke’s Budget Cuts, Fall 2008

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Five months ago you might have found me browsing around Moonflower Market, a local natural foods store in Moab, Utah. Chances are I’d have at least 3 organic avocados and a $6.00 carton of premium organic mint chocolate chip ice cream in my basket before I checked out. Or you might have caught me at Milt’s Stop ‘n’ Eat, a favorite Moab grubspot, dropping $12.00 on an organic, locally and humanely raised beef cheeseburger with fries and a banana malt milkshake. Those were the days for me… and my stomach.

Considering I hardly ever buy expensive new material things (thrift store sprees are definitely kosher), the biggest cutback I’ve made in response to the economic crisis is in food spending. Although each of my last two credit card bills documented 9 trips to Papalote, my grocery store runs have been less frequent and more cost-conscious. I’ve been buying predominantly locally and conventionally grown produce because it is the cheapest available, and that only applies to the kind of produce I’ve bought. My consumption of exotic produce has decreased sharply, and my normal take-home nowadays consists of onions, broccoli, zucchini, red & green peppers (yellow & orange are twice the price), mushrooms (which I buy in bulk, packaged ones are too pricey), Washington Honeycrisp apples, and organic bananas. Bananas are the only produce items of which I consistently buy the organic version. Also, I have bought one avocado since September. ONE. People that know me well may be shocked by this figure, but it is true. Paying 2-4 bucks for one fruit, one vegetable, whatever avocados really are, is just not up my alley anymore. Blueberries, blackberries, mangoes- those have been kissed goodbye. And routinely buying that rich, heavenly, creamy yet chillingly crisp premium mint chocolate chip– well, a New Yorker might just say fahgeddabout it. I haven’t been buying lower quality, I’ve just been eating less ice cream.

I’ve also saved money by spending less on event tickets, such as NBA games (usually my largest expenditure between November and April) and not-free concerts. So far I’ve only gone to one not-free concert this semester (Dave Matthews at the Greek Theater), and the ticket was a birthday present from my aunt. I’ve only been to two Warriors games this semester, an astonishingly low number considering my track record. I haven’t been buying cheaper, upper deck tickets, I’ve simply been buying fewer tickets.

Much of my recent penny pinching is the result of a significant life change that occurred at the beginning of this semester- my parents gave me complete control of my college fund. That money is now for me to do what I will with it: finish college or don’t, live in a nice apartment or live under a tarp in the Marin headlands (I’ve thought about it). These new choices have increased my awareness of my spending habits. The more I save now, the more I get to use for graduate school after USF. And that’s worth a little more than some delicious mint chocolate chip.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Oh man, I see your dilemma… I would have a hard time choosing between grad school and ice cream. I’m afraid I might go with the latter, embarrassingly enough! I like your approach to the topic. You’ve offered ways by example, so it’s easy to see how your advice might be applied to other students’ lives. It’s not all-knowing or dogmatic. And eating fewer berries, mangoes and avocados really bites, I agree, but seriously — how great is the Bay Area for the individual who chooses to eat local? One of the big draws, in my opinion. That and the transportation.

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