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FirstPerson: Cutting back on Memorial Day

Nightly News viewers submit their stories about how the economy is affecting their holiday plans.

I wonder if our elected officials are having to make the same cost cutting measures that a large majority of us are? I do not believe that they are, as nothing is being done. We have an energy secretary saying that nothing needs to be released from the reserves to bring the average working family relief. If a person makes minimum wage, it takes nearly a whole days pay to fill up the gas tank, yet he sees no need? Our entire government system is a farce. Of the people, for the people, and by the people...what a joke!

Marnie Wade

Montgomery AL


This weekend I am not going anywhere. Usually I go camping. I just retired this year and the cost of food and gas is more than I can afford.

This weekend I will be expanding my garden space and put in more vegetables than I usually do. I cannot believe the cost of green beans and watermelon.

Karen Bultman

Evansville IN


The high cost of gas is putting a serious dent in my Memorial weekend plans. I will not be driving anywhere that is not preplanned. I will be participating in festivities that are in my neighborhood that I can walk to. I am a single parent with 2 children and the rising cost of gasoline and everything else has eaten into my dispensable income to the point that I can't afford vacations away for my children and I.

Tatia Hartfield

Keller TX


I read articles like this one and articles on "money-saving grocery tips,” and I discovered that I was already doing pretty much everything they suggested. So "the pundits" have to come up with better suggestions.

One ironic turn of events is that in one local supermarket I find organic, free-range eggs for $2.49 a dozen.

Well, since regular eggs are, like, $1.89 a dozen, I decided to go ahead and buy the ones that are 60 cents more. I figure, I'm getting overcharged every single other way and this way I'm serving healthier food. Not to mention that the hens aren't subjected to as much suffering as the non-free-range hens.

Another thing I do is put in a $3 contribution to a local food bank that you can pay at the register. The cashier scans a card with the amount on it and it's added t o your total bill. Same logic -- as long as I can afford to pay my groceries, I want to share with others. I can relate; been there.

May be there again one day.

However, I definitely buy less.

I'm underemployed right now -- no serious work in two months and just started a part-time job, so our cushion is long-gone.

In order to pay my health insurance (I pay my own because I freelance), I finally dipped into money that was supposed to go to the rent.

I owed 3 months' health insurance and wasn't about to have that canceled; I need health insurance more AND my landlord isn't going to throw me out for one month overdue rent. How's that for a tacky decision to have to make?

Ellen Appelbaum

Brooklyn NY


We not only took our "Memorial Day" vacation last week to avoid higher prices at the pumps, but we probably won’t be doing any major grilling out or celebration in order to keep to our budget for the rest of the summer. It’s a sad time in America when people who work hard and should be (and used to be) considered the "middle class" are now living paycheck to paycheck and could lose everything if much more hits the pocketbooks. What do we tell our children why we have to stay home this summer? I guess it’s a good time to become green and start growing our own produce, baking our own bread, and limiting the meat.

Jenna North

York NE


Our family will forgo our traditional get together on Memorial weekend. Gas here is $4.00/gal plus grocery increases. Each family will stay home and do [their] own thing. Only thing not increasing is income. Me, I'll spend extra time working in the yard.

Don't think the Bush family will worry about curtailing any activities.

June Coleman

Fort Worth TX


This Memorial Day we plan to drive approximately 450 miles round trip to see family. Estimating our van gets 18 mpg on the interstate, it will cost us about $100 at $4 per gallon for just the gas. If we have a barbecue while we're there, according to calculations, we will spend a few dollars more than we did last year, which could be easily offset by making a couple small adjustments, like not buying paper plates, not buying paper cups etc. We will go, and we will have fun, and our kids won't remember a single lick about the pain at the pump, just like I didn't remember anything about sitting for hours waiting for the chance to buy a tank of gas back in the 70's.

Not unlike most media outlets at present, you prey on fear, and our natural tendency to look at a situation with a certain amount of negativity. Your article is void of any real content, and you never offer solutions. Here is a solution to oil prices and the reason you won't print my story. I am paying $4 a gallon for gas, and helping to slow economic prosperity by not having any disposable income. I am not rich, don't blog, have 3 kids, a used van wtih 126K on it, a Honda Civic with the same and I don't care. I paid cash for both because I saved. I put 20% down on my house, paid for my own college, invested, and don't have any credit card debt. My wife and I have 3 kids, all under 7 and will all be attending private school, not because of wealth or status, but out of a system of beliefs.

I even know what my pastor believes, because I wasn't asleep in church for the last 20 years. I am one of the countless masses who are disappointed with your slant and I will not accept that this is an impartial news source.

For Memorial Day, my plans also include visiting a cemetery to remember the massive sacrifices my ancestors made so I could hit the road on Friday, and so a member of the senate could fumble around for the word "NATIONALIZE" while trying to pass blame for the hopeless lack of leadership organizations like yours continue to support.

Please don't disappoint me on Tuesday by finding out that you passed over my perspective because it differs from yours. My kids are a photo op waiting to happen, and ironically enough, I'm only 33, so you could call me a gen X'er if you wanted to and try to figure out where I went wrong. It sucks to pay this much for gas, but we had to have seen it coming, and I pray you will help environmentalists the world over pull their heads out of the oil sands long enough to see that their plans to save the environment are harming our most important resource.

Ross Fey

Luverne MN


Spending less this weekend? Are you kidding???

I've been spending less on everything, including food choices (my choices have been limited by increasing prices of everything) since we started slipping into recession LAST YEAR (well ahead of when the lying media said we are going into one). Everybody I know is in the same boat.

Basically, we are heading to a two-class system: the rich and the poor. Remember how well that's worked through history? Social unrest will be rampant and there will be riots in the big cities; mark my words.

Anyway, I'm staying home and eating cheap like I have been.

Dale Briere

Char IL


I hope the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are doing everything possible on their end to keep the prices as low as possible because maintaining the same profit margins today could backfire over the long-term. Although I've always shunned the grocery store brands, now I always give them a try before concluding that they will not taste as good. And, guess what? Most of them are just as good, so I would not go back, even if I could, unless the name brands LOWERED their prices dramatically. Everyone should give grocery store brands the 'ole college try--you might just find yourself a new, much cheaper favorite--and we can all silently but effectively revolt en masse. EVERYTHING that goes into my grocery cart is subject to elimination if the price is not right--and I've never, ever watched prices at the grocery store before.

Tina Schutz

Winter Garden FL


With gas prices soaring, our family owning a SUV and living paycheck to paycheck, it is impossible for us to even think of vacationing or getting away from our home in San Diego. It would cost too much in gas to drive just up to Los Angeles at this point.

The gas is basically destroying our small fixed budget that we live and survive on every 2 weeks on paydays. We have had to cut back in how much food we are buying - buy the cheaper items and just don't go out at all. This is awful for a hard-working couple with kids to do nothing but work every week and sit home.

Tamara Henley

San Diego CA


I live [in] Delaware, Ohio, and work in Columbus, Ohio, and was born and raised in Pennsylvania. Due to rising gas prices, I could no longer afford to make my student loan payments, which fell into default, meaning I am not eligible to receive the economic stimulus rebate. With the cost of gas causing the cost of everything to go up, I can no longer afford to make my trips home to visit my family.

This is especially frustrating as I drive a car that gets an average of 30 mpg, not the SUV's that most people are driving. I can barely afford to buy food for myself anymore, as I have to put gas in my car to be able to drive to work, and pay rent, and utilities. My credit is being destroyed because I can barely keep up with my bills anymore, and I barely spend money. It seems anymore that I am working just to pay to make it to work.

I long ago had my cable shutoff, and now only use the Internet at work on my breaks. Now with no end to the rising cost of gas in sight, I am lost with what I am to do. Due to the amount of time I spend travelling to work, I don't have the time to take on a second job, and it is too expensive for me to be able to move closer to where I work.

I am 32 years old, and should not have to take on a roommate, and should not be borrowing money from my parents, but this is the state of our country now where the government has put in place laws which make it impossible for people like me to survive on our own anymore. I would like to see them live on my salary for just one year with no investments to keep them going.

What I make is good money ($23 per hour) by all means, but it is barely enough to survive on anymore. I am lost with what to do, and have nowhere to turn. I haven't seen my family since Christmas, and they only live 3 hours away, and it looks now that I won't be going home this Memorial day either. I now truly understand why people turn to crime.

The real problem is that our senators, and governors are all invested in these oil companies, and are seeing great profits from their stocks, and since they all make alot of money, they don't fell the impact as much as those of us that are working class citizens. If they only had to experience life like the rest of us for even just one year I bet there tunes would change about everything.

Jeremy Grove

Delaware OH


Will be spending a lot less. We usually do Ribeye steaks and racks of ribs with a lot of sides--macaroni salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc.

This year it will be homemade hamburgers with french fries and soda instead of beer. The ground beef was bought on clearance a few weeks ago and frozen --I'll thaw it this weekend for use.

Katie McCort

Sacramento CA


We planned on driving to the coast just for the day but because of fuel cost we will be staying home. We no longer have any wiggle room even using credit cards. I'm now looking into a second job so my daughters can go to a community college. Our dreams of retirement have faded. I pray we can keep our home. What does the future hold for our kids? We need change!!

Mark Ulm

Stockton CA


My wife and I will be driving my Honda Accord instead of her Jeep to save on gas. We will also be shoping for our BBQ food at Costco just to save a little green.

No trips for the Jenkins Family so we will stick close to home and ride our bikes around the neighborhood instead.

Carter Jenkins

Arvada CO


My wife and I just got home from grocery shopping. I am still in shock. I never thought we would end up paying more for onions ($1.18 Lb) than we did for oranges ($.99 Lb) We are retired and on a fixed income and are really concerned with rising food prices due to the cost of fuel. We have already cut back in our drives by car. Now we are cutting back in the quality of food we are buying. Healthy foods are falling by the wayside for cheaper brands etc. There does not seem to be an end to this foolishness in site. We fear we are heading for a major recession.

Bennie Smith

Boyd TX


Yes, I spend approximately $200 a week on groceries for a family of 4, and that’s using coupons and watching what I buy. No more food stockpiling, I just get what I need. When it comes to a party or picnic the same rationale will apply, don't over buy get what I need.

Fred Wendell

Hamden CT


This memorial day cook out, instead of our usual ribs, we are having burgers. As bleak as it sounds, next year we may have cup of soup!

Laura Sudderth

Marysville CA


Having just returned to work after being downsized four months ago, I am very price conscious. Cutting out all non-essentials. This means downsized invitations for dinners to just family. We also have found it more affordable to bake desserts, eat more fresh fruit and we've planted vegetables and fruit trees in the garden-instead of flowers this year. Store brands are showing up more often in our shopping selection, as well as eating at home instead of restaurants. Renting DVDs instead of movies. Bringing store purchased candy with us IF we decide to go.

The past two weekends, our sons friends have spent the evening out back making smores in our chiminea. Low cost, high fun entertaining is what we call it.

Victor Rivera

American Canyon CA


No. If you are worried about pickles going up .20 and are sweating having a BBQ over it you've got bigger problems.

Eric W

Los Angeles CA


We've cut back in most ways...groceries, driving, entertainment. We airpop our popcorn instead of using microwave popcorn, we check out movies from the library for free, instead of renting, we check almost all items to see which is the best buy per ounce, our pets now eat generic brand pet food and often, we do, too. We are enlarging our garden space from 20 ft. by 30 ft. to 1/4 acre, we planted 8 fruit trees this spring, and planted 6 20 ft. rows of 4 kinds of berries. We have only l acre or we'd have even a bigger garden. My husband bought a motorcycle to commute with, we are saving for a hybrid, we have our large sized diesel pickup for sale...haven't driven it since Dec. and put our credit card in our safety deposit box at the bank, so we aren't tempted to use it. Those are a few of the ways this family of 5 are cutting back, and still are struggling to break even.

Jane Bryce

Lebanon OR


For the past 7 years, my husband and I have traveled to his parent’s home in Ohio. This year we are skipping the trip. We have a gas guzzling SUV and an old Saturn that get horrible gas mileage. It is a 5 hour trip we simply can't afford this year.

Since this year, like many of our neighbors, we are staying home our neighborhood is having a cook-out. It is potluck, which will cut down on the costs. A shared meal is always cheaper. And, I have been going to garage sales this spring to find the basics. I have all kinds of new-in-package napkins, mismatched of course, but each package only cost me 25 cents. And left over birthday supplies like plates and cups for 25 to 50 cents a bunch have also allowed me to furnish all the paper goods. No one cares that some plates or napkins have balloons on them, and others snowmen. What we care about is getting together and celebrating "family-style" even if we can't be with our families.

Kristen Carpenter

Chicago IL


This weekend - we will be grilling some filet mignon and lobster tails on Saturday - to be enjoyed with a vintage cabernet sauvignon ('97). On Sunday, we expect to have some veal chops and Dungeness crab legs with some delicious Northwest microbrews..!! A great weekend....

Lex Wright

Issaquah WA


What does next week bring?

We were planning on having a large cookout this weekend but we can't justify spending the money on the food for it. So our holiday weekend will be quiet.

The gas prices have restricted our spending on so many levels. I have always budgeted monthly bills such as the mortgage, electric, cable, etc etc and we always did ok. It never crossed my mind that even though we managed those bills, something like gas would come along and just add expense the way it has.

Luckily, we don't have any real credit cards to pay off. I feel lucky in some ways but I can't imagine how some families are dealing with this. I have no doubt that if things get worse, we'll have two classes, the Really Rich and the Poor.

Steve Glidden

South Windsor CT


I live in a small town in CA that nomally lags a few cents behind the nearst large city. Last Sun. (5/18) gas was $3.99, Mon. I filled up for $4.05, and today (5/24) it is up to $4.25. Twenty-six cents in six days? Yeah, we're staying home. We can't even afford to travel an hour to Yosemite or the coast.

Kelly S.

Dinuba CA


Our plans this memorial day weekend to go boating and camp out were dashed by the ever rising prices at the gas pumps. We decided to save the money and stay home and cook out. Its less expensive and not worth really doing this year. Ten gallons in the boat 40.00, twenty gallons in the camper 80.00. Payment for camping fees 45.00 The look on our faces after we tried to buy food, Priceless.

Joe Raines

Willmar MN


I am a school teacher from Alabama. I will be off work on Memorial Day, but my husband is in the logging business and is working 6 days a week—12 hours a day, in order to pay the high cost of fuel to run his equipment. He will be working on Memorial Day--as he does every day except Sunday. The rest of the family will be cooking out at home, enjoying burgers and home-made ice cream. Of course we'll save some for Dad.

Kathy Johnson

Cleveland AL


My husband and I are so strapped financially! We are a family of 3 adults and 3 kids. We are in the mortgage crunch with a house payment at 4K a month and outrageous utilities. We make over $100K a year and we cant afford gasoline!! We are spending over 1K a month in gas alone. The only plan we have for this weekend is church and straight home. We feel like we are prisoners of our own home. Not only are we not going anywhere for the holiday weekend we have changed our whole entire lifestyle. Work and home. Home and grocery store. If the cost of living goes any higher I don't know what we will do.

Kathryn Rollins

Phelan CA


i'm broke and my future is ruined...Thx to our government my 401k is gone

Andy Iles,

Florence KY


For those on fixed income which is almost everyone because most work is paid by the hour. We have no choice but to cut back on spending and travel. Paid by the hour employees can only work a limited number of hours because time dictates that there are only 168 hours in a week and we can’t work enough of those hours to keep up with rising food and fuel cost.

America could easily correct the oil shortage and high fuel prices if the oil industry would allow it. Alternative fuels are readily available at little cost. We could end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil easily within 2 years if known technology was released. We are America and I hope soon we will wake again as we have in the past and face this challenge of energy dependence.

Alvin Stafford

Spartanburg SC


With gas prices soaring I am not planning any vacations this year. Usually I will take one 1500-3000 mile vacation in June. And then usually a 750-1000 mile in September. This year plans a re for absolutely nothing. I can not even afford to drive 140 mile round trip with my truck to the cabin I own in the mountains. I can take my econo car over, but can't haul anything, otherwise to take the truck over which gets 10-11.5 mpg. I just can't afford it to haul $30 worth of garbage out!

Graham Wilkins

Medford OR


We are really suffered with the impact of the high cost of gas. This is the only time in twenty years since we migrated here feel the agony of the situation brought by the virtual recession in our american dream.

Rosauro Delacruz,

Canton MI


High gas and grocery prices have impacted our holiday greatly. As operators of a vacation resort on Bull Shoals Lake in southern Missouri, we are currently enduring the worst Memorial Day ever. People are concerned about how to pay bills, so they are not taking vacations, even shorter ones such as long holiday weekends. Normally our resort and boat dock would be full, this year we have a less than 50% occupancy.

We had no last minute panic calls from those who'd failed to plan their weekend getaway earlier. Usually we turn away prospects due to lack of space. Not so this year! The whole summer looks much the same and I'm hearing from my guests that they are afraid to spend money on a vacation as they may need it later to pay bills, put food on the table or gas in a vehicle so they can get to work.

So in our case, not only are we dealing with a definite decline in business, but in personal income as well. We too are faced with rising fuel, grocery and energy costs. Those costs won't lessen just because business is slow. Small businesses are feeling the pinch just as badly as other consumers, except we have no control over our income. If we have business, we have income. If we have less business, less income. Yet we still have to maintain our business, pay the bills, try to pay ourselves something, and hope there's money to do the improvements necessary to attract customers in the future.

It would not be quite so frustrating if I didn't read stories about record profits for big oil, while I'm staring at a pile of bills and wondering how I'm going to pay them when business is so slow. And it does not look like it will get any better soon. Maybe we'll be able to hold on, maybe not. It will depend on how long prices stay this high and how long people are afraid their jobs may not be around.

Uncertainty about jobs, as well as high prices, have made many people afraid to spend money on discretionary items like travel. If I spend that money this week, will I regret it next week when prices have climbed even more? When people are worried about keeping necessities available, they sure aren't going to be in the mood to go on vacation.

It's hard to combat that mind-set, even with top-knotch advertising. If you can afford the advertising! And to add to the problem, we've received record rainfall this spring so our lake it at record levels which has prompted a spate of rumors that the lakes are closed! Some areas are closed due to high water, but most businesses are quite able to cater to vacationers and would love to see them! If hard times make for tough folks, then I guess I'll be pretty tough when this whole mess resolves itself. Whether I'll still be in business is another story.

Loretta Edwards

Theodosia MO


Soon as I'm able to buy a 50mpg car , I will do so in a blink of an eye. The car and oil people are in cohouts with one another to use oil and materials for making cars so as to prop up the stock-holders incomes on their shares in the stock market.These people control the emmisions laws so that no country can sell their cars in the USA. There are vehicles available that get three times the mileage that the american made vehicles get on a gallon of fuel. USA auto manufactures should be making everyday vehicles for the purpose of shopping and traveling to work on little fuel use and good efficient parking in tight places. Keep the big SUV's and Pick ups for long hauls and vacation only. This will reduce the fuel by one half and keep everyone happy, including the auto makers. Engineers…get to work now!

Bohdan Markow

Staten Island NY


I was hoping to drive from San Diego to Santa Cruz, California for the 24th Annual Longboard Surf Contest normally held at Steamer Lane around Memorial Day weekend each year. But, the gas alone for the 950 mile round trip would cost over $175, which I can't afford. This contest normally attracts surfers from all over the state and the country, but I talked with one of the contest organizers who said that there are over 100 fewer contestants registered this year than in past years, and most have cited the cost of gas as the reason. I'm hoping the lack of participation this year won't affect sponsorship and funding for future contests. If so, this terrific annual tradition may wind up being yet another casualty of greedly oil company executives and OPEC members.

Karen Grube

San Diego CA


yes it sure made the difference for me. I would have enjoyed doing something on this special weekend of the year but would never even come close to paying bills more less having enough money left to continue going to work just to hand over all of my change left over to make the government richer while me and my friends cut all luxuries from our life to just make it to work to survive. I guess working for a living has no rewards any longer. it would take ten years to save enough for one moderate week off. It makes you want to just give up.

Dick Moore

Twin Lake MI


Hello. I work at an automotive repair service center and usually the week before memorial is hectic with people wanting to rush their cars in for last minute maintance and inspections or repairs. Due to overpriced gasoline and diesel fuel this week has been actually slower than normal. From the few customers we have had this week none are planning a trip and will not be this summer. just FYI I work in the suburban Chicago area and that actually represents a good cross section of the country.

Terry Baize

St John IN


Fortunately for me, I am cheap! I do NOT spend more money than I make, I do NOT own a house with a payment I can not afford. I just refinanced to take care of a credit card bill and to pay off my car so those are DONE and I do NOT plan on buying anything on credit unless it is an emergency. As far as my car goes? Anyone ever see the movie Uncle Buck? Well my car will have to be smoking as bad as his did for me to even CONSIDER buying a new car. Yes I am going for the cheapness hall of fame.

I think that we as Americans think we are all millionaires and are determined to LIVE like them even if we are not. Well I say its time to wake up and smell the coffee. Everyone says it's the lenders fault but it is just as much the buyers fault as well for NOT asking and being honest about how much house they can afford. Whatever happened to living WITHIN your means? Whatever happened to being happy with decent health and your family instead of what can I buy myself or what should I buy little Johnny or Uncle Jim? How about giving them your time and more importantly how about taking time for YOURSELF? Somehow we have all forgotten this! Its sad.

This Memorial Day weekend we need to remember those who have died fighting for the very things we complain about and we need to realize just how lucky we are and it is NOT about the money.

Michael Petta

Egg Harbor City NJ


We are cutting expenses in every aspect of our daily lives to accomodate the high fuel cost.

1) Buying in bulk for food--Costco, Walmart

2) Staying home to watch movies on cable

3) Vacation will be limited to going to the local beach and coming back home on the same day

4) This one we really like--our three girls are asking their boyfriends to come to the house to pick them up instead of using their cars to go on a date

Miguel Salomon

Miami FL


I spend a good portion of Thursday on my lunch break and Friday (I took a days vacation) shopping several grocery stores and WalMart to buy my food for the weekend. It is a major effort to make sure you look at the sale papers and map out your trip in order to use the least fuel to get to all the stores for the sale prices. Gone are the days when you could go to just one store and get all your groceries. I found a huge bargain at Kroger this week (chicken breast $.99 a pound) It is probaby the last time you will see them on sale for some time for I am filling my freezer so that this summer I will be able to barbeque. One package normally sold for $5.14 I bought for $1.90. That is worth shopping around. Most people will not give up their time to look at ads and go get a sale like this. It takes a lot of planning but I am trying to get the most bang for my buck in Raleigh, NC.

Robin Langley

Knightdale NC


I just graduated from college. I returned to school 25 years after graduating high school. I have accumulated 30,000.00 of debt in school loans so that I could increase my salary by about 10,000.00 annually. Now with what it costs me in travel (gas) increases and loan payments I make less money then when I started reeducating myself. I was originally so proud of my I feel just completely defeated. American dream or nightmare? Tracy B. R.N. so what...

Tracy Barbiero

Hamilton NJ


Based on your analysis it looks like the all american weekend. The two products you reported with the lowest increase in cost between 2007 and 2008 were beef (the all american favorite) and beer. Nothing else need to be said. Cutting 2008 holiday BBQ to beef and beer is this years most cost effective hip enhancer. Staying at home saves additional bucks + makes the roads safer for those fools that want to play in the social circles. I couldnt be happier with your report.

Earl Porter

Roseville CA


This Memorial day may just be the last one family spends with an elderly member whose health is declining. Because of the high costs of gas and groceries it just isn't in our budget to make the trip from Massachusetts to Buffalo New York this year and my signifigant other's gramdmother is ailing.

This I'd have to say is one of the hardest implications from the inflating costs we just cannot afford to pay.

Chrisine Ugaz

Hingham MA


Spending less?...NOT! Flying to Vegas, then S.D.. Gonna see Cher before she retires. Gonna have me a big steak at Stack and watch Cirque du Soleil.Then I'm gonna spend a week on the beach in La Jolla getting brown. Americans, KEEP SPENDING! Travel and have a nice time. The "recession" is almost all a fear factor started by the media, but if you buy the negative press, you are causing economic hardship.

Jeff Chastain

Mount Vernon WA