Barriers of budgeting

By Dawn Booth, Managing Editor of Connect Weekly

Residents are undoubtedly feeling the effects of the economy with a new school year in full force.
In a recent release, the National Retail Federation (NRF) – the world’s largest retail trade association – forecasts consumers are cutting down on their school splurging from last year.

According to the NRF’s Back-to-School Spending Survey, the average family – on a national level – with children in grades K-12 plan to spend $630.36US on electronics, apparel, and other school needs.

Closer to home, there are some key factors as to why many may not have been as frivolous with school item spending.

Closer to home, there are some key factors as to why many may not have been as frivolous with school item spending. The decline in the price of oil and the dry weather conditions in Canada’s cattle heartland has created a double hit on Alberta consumers’ income. Those who have tried to cut corners at local retailers on school supplies – by buying online or out of the city, have probably not noticed a significant change due to the price hike at our grocery stores.

In July 2015, Statistics Canada released data stating the price at slaughter for 100 pounds of Alberta beef rose to $192.80 in May.

My last trip for groceries showed this impact. The bill of almost $300 (for a family of five with three children aged four and under) left me sitting down at the kitchen table to crunch the numbers. One package of lean ground beef cost me $11.90. Months ago, the same package cost about $4 less. Statistics Canada shows retail suppliers are the highest since 1995.

So, how do we save and “mind” our money when the prices to crucial necessities are spiking? Well, there are hopes that the recent universal child-care benefit payments from the federal government have helped residents with their additional back-to-school spending, and it will continue to pay for expensive grocery bills.

In the meantime, we can try to limit stops to the stores that have Halloween decorations and Christmas items on display – because no one is ready for any of that yet – and focus on this new fresh start to the school year.

This isn’t the first time our community has felt the effects of the economy and it won’t be the last, but the benefits are we can closer recognize the things we actually need, and the things that we end up placing on Fort McMurray’s “Too Good Too Dump” Facebook page.


– Connect Weekly –