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The Price of Things Today

I’ve been trying to save money around the house. I switched from an air-miles reward credit card to a simple cash back one, as I’m not going anywhere anyway. (The card is a good deal: Chase’s Freedom Visa pays up to 3% back on purchases). We do almost all of our food shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop, which has a very minor mark up, so we are saving money there.

Still there are things I want that I can’t get at the coop, such as Progresso lentil soup. It’s one of the concessions I make to convenience in feeding the kids. Nina loves it, even if it does break my heart just a little bit to hear her call out for the “canned lentil soup” instead of my outrageously delicious Turkish version (which I’ll write about later, I promise.)

The coop doesn’t sell the soup, but at least two grocery stores in my neighborhood do. The closest one to my house has it at $2.99 a can. A larger store a few blocks away sells it for $2.69.

I’ve yet to develop the skill (and patience) to compare prices and really shop around, but I hope to learn to do so soon. (A master of saving money is my friend Vespucci. He’s a shrewd shopper, and a home gardener. The New York Post just did a video feature on him.)

Still, I make an effort. On Sunday, I walked to the larger grocery store and bought four cans of the soup with my cash-back credit card, saving more than a dollar. On the trip back home, I felt both proud and foolish. Proud to have saved the dollar plus. Foolish for being proud.

But then I read a harrowing story in the New York Times magazine by an economics reporter who has tangled himself up in the financial crisis. He borrowed too much money to buy too big a house. He and his new wife couldn’t slow their spending, and now they are facing foreclosure. A cautionary tale, indeed. Made me feel much better about saving that dollar.

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