This week has seen the U.S. elections taking place and being finalized. Pretty historic happenings in our world which is dominated in one way or another by that country. Whether it be by culture, finance, trade or its leadership in lots of other areas. Today I read the Sunday Scribblings prompt and thought no I won't go there because I reckoned that that is what is on most peoples minds at the moment. I will try to be different.
Changes I have seen in my life.
When I was very small I remember that Mum did the shopping at the corner shop in the next street. We also had bakers, milkmen, and fruit and vege people selling from vans who came to our front door. We also grew a lot of our own vegetables, everyone did. It was the done thing, now it is more of a hobby than a necessity.
My life has been full of change of one sort or another. I guess that we could all say the same couldn't we.
What I was thinking about was in the amount of money we have to pay out in staple foodstuffs each week nowadays as compared to when I first started doing the family shopping.
When I was 11 years old we lived in Sydney and my Dad was away in Vietnam.We didn't have a lot of spare cash but we got by o.k. and usually managed a take away dinner most Friday nights of fish and chips or something similar. There wasn't a lot else to choose from in our price range in those days. Not like with the big food chain places that sell such garbage nowadays.
Anyway when I was 11 it was my job to do the weekly shopping for the family.My Mum was probably trying to get me to learn all those domestic goddess things that girls were supposed to learn in those days. I could already clean the house and cook a meal and make great sponge cakes. Where as my elder sister was the brainy, pretty,social one and not domestic like me. Mum would give me $5 and send me down to the shops at Bondi Road which was about 3 blocks away from our place . I used to go into the little vegetable shop on the corner and the Italian man there would help me get the fruit and veges I wanted. Then about a block and a half further down the road was a small cluttered supermarket where I would get the rest of the stuff I wanted. I always came away with bags full of stuff that I would have to drag back home with great difficulty.I would have the circulation in my hands cut off and no feeling left in them by the time I got back. I remember I always had enough money left to take home a packet of Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs which were our favorite treat at the time. They were a box of popcorn set in honey toffee and nuts. You can't buy them anymore. I usually had a few coins left over to take home also. There was a butcher on the corner of Belgrave and Murray streets which was just a few doors down from us and I used to go in there and buy whatever was cheap, usually chops, mince or sausages. I used to be so proud of my shopping job. Butcher shops were different then too, they had wooden benches and sawdust on the floor and butchers always seemed to have a certain personality type, they were loud and friendly and always had a joke with you.
Neighborhood shopping and corner shops have pretty well died out now because of easily accessible transport options and the competition from the big supermarket chains pricing them out of business.
When I was first married my household food budget was $30 a week. I used to get my shopping at Woolworth's, there was only one woolies in Wagga at the time. It was in the main street, Baylis street, in almost the same place it is now, except now it is inside a shopping mall, in those days it stood alone. You could go in there and get everything you wanted in the one shop, without having to go back and forwards to three different places. I was just short of my 21st birthday when I got married and I remember being disgusted at the price of grocery items and what they cost for a week to feed just two people, $30 a week, amazing.
Just a few years later we had two little boys to feed and we lived in a tiny town called Urana, about an hour and a half drive west south west of Wagga. There was a small supermarket run by a not very nice man who charged inflated prices for not very fresh goods because he could, he was the only shop in town, so the most I ever bought there was bread and milk. I came in to Wagga once a fortnight on pay week to do the shopping and visit my parents for the weekend. I think my fortnightly budget was $120. I could fill up the car boot for that. I still went to woolies but I also got things from a local couple ( the Knights) who would drive around Urana each Thursday with their old Holden station wagon loaded up and sell fresh fruit and veges, mostly grown in their own back yard. They were lovely people who became good friends and Marge became one of my children's adopted Nana's.
When we moved to Junee the town was reasonably well serviced but we still shopped mainly in Wagga for foodstuffs as there was a greater choice. I think my budget went up to $200 a fortnight. All of the shopping was done at the supermarket.
The prices kept going up......and up. I reckon now that we are here in Canberra the amount that we spend fortnightly is probably closer to four or five hundred dollars. Most of the shopping is still done in supermarkets but I think that nowadays there is a trend heading back to a few years ago where we enjoyed buying our food from the grower and smaller market vendors than from a large impersonal chain store type supermarket.
I have never done a break up of what I spend, but I guess that an extra amount could be added from buying lunches out and bottles of drink between jobs, at the Campbell shops. My mother who lives with us helps out with paying for groceries but she does not pay rent.
Here in Canberra they have regular farmers and different goumet food markets that are fun to visit and have a great atmosphere in comparison to supermarket shopping. I love the Kingston bus depot markets where they have all sorts of interesting foods. Organic fruits and veges, cheeses, condiments, local produce and wines, deli things, breads to name a few. My favorite thing there is the Turkish and Jordanian sweets, I love their home made baklava. You can go along and taste all the different things which is fun, except when I go there I always spend extra. Four decades ago there would have been very little of those gourmet types of foods available to us and, if they were available I guess we would have been unwilling to try them.
So over a period of almost four decades I have gone from spending $5 a week to feed 3 people to $250 a week to feed 4 (or sometimes more) people. That of course does not take into account the change in the things I now choose to buy and the amount in comparison that I have to spend or the ages and tastes of the people I need to feed.Along with that clothing, furniture, housing, utilities, cars and petrol have gone up too, but so have wages.I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison of wages and living costs for the same period of time.
When I was 17 I started work full time and was really proud and excited when my weekly earnings reached $100 for the first time. I thought I was great. Now I work part time, 20 hrs per week and my pay does not go far at all, even though it is a nice supplement and we need it.
When I started driving at 17, the price of petrol was 15 cents a litre. Now it is $1.24 per litre and not so long ago it was as high as $1.87 per litre. It is good to see that world oil prices have dropped but I reckon it will be only temporary.
Well I had better finish on that subject because otherwise this could become a very long rambling post.