Despite all the tweaking I have done to our budget, I’m still not able to pay my bills. It’s not much but I’m at least $60 to $100 short each month. When it’s $60 that’s easy for me to cover. I just cut something out. But when it is $100 and more, well, that’s another story. It gets to be a bit hard when you’re $100 short. That’s too much to cut.

I’ve cut everything extra out of my expense budget. We are only spending money on necessities like food, gas, energy, emergencies (i.e. our doggie needed Tick Medication fast! she already had one bout with Lyme disease and after spending hundreds of dollars on meds to cure her, yes! buying tick medication right now, in spring time, is an emergency. it can’t wait.)

It was hubby’s birthday a while ago and our daughter sent him a $100 gift card. “Don’t spend it” I said. “save it for an emergency, like when we can’t afford food or meds or something.” Can you imagine thinking like that? It was hubby’s personal birthday present and I was saving it for general use. Not personal use. He did use the gift card for one personal gift, however. He wanted to go to our local diner for his birthday meal. The local diner was a favorite of ours. We used to go there quite frequently before the pandemic hit. They had a senior menu that for only $10.99 you got a full course dinner which also included soup or salad (in additional to the entree) coffee or tea, rice pudding or apple pie for dessert. Entrees included such old favorites as meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. Other choices were a broiled fish dish, a roasted chicken dish or a beef stew over noodles like grandma used to make on those cold winter nights. Well, you get the picture.

We went to our old fave diner for the first time, this past week, in over two years. The first thing I asked for when being seated was a copy of the senior menu. The young hostess excused herself to ask management. She came back to tell us that the diner didn’t offer that anymore. Apparently the young waitress never even heard that her employer once offered such a thing. After being seated in a booth, we looked at the ‘limited menu’ our server told us about beforehand (as a way, I suppose, to prepare us for the sticker shock).

The waiter was correct. The prices at this once-affordable diner were too high for us. I scanned the menu and tried to find something inexpensive. Such as a hamburger, but even that was high priced at $14. My old fave of a half rack of baby back ribs went from $14 to $29. You’re right. That’s a shocker. Hubby wanted a souvlaki. I wanted to hide under the covers. I looked for a bowl of soup but knew that it would come from a can. It wouldn’t be fresh. So I decided to look at the sandwiches. True, I didn’t want a sandwich for dinner but I also didn’t want to blow the gift card. We still stuck to our budget. I always felt safe in the sandwich category section, anyway.

I found a fish sandwich for only $8.99. Cole slaw, pickel, lettuce and tomato as well as a home-baked bun included along side, what I thought would be a piece of fried fish no bigger than the palm of my hand.

This is what I (unexpectantly, but happily) got: a whole fish fillet side!

For $8.99, this turned out to be a good deal!

I saved the bun for later (which I had, toasted, for breakfast). The sandwich was a meal IMHO all by itself. Hubby’s choice came to $12.99 but I felt good knowing I didn’t break any budget. Nonetheless, nothing about my monthly expenses has been solved. Despite all eliminations of unnecessary spending and all fine tuning of our passive income, inflation and the rise in gas and energy costs still are causing me to be short each month.

It’s a conundrum, for sure, that one can only hope will get better in the long run. In the meantime, I will continue to rob from Peter to pay Paul and dream of a life that used to be, but will never more. This is my new reality and I have to deal with it somehow. Someway.

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