The other day I got a postal from my propane company. I knew it couldn’t be an invoice because we pay as we go. In full. Perhaps it was a letter or something touting a new feature or business proposal. I wouldn’t know till I opened it up.

What was it? It was a BILL from my propane supplier charging me $130 for non-usage!

WTF? You read that right. My propane supplier was charging me a fee for NOT using enough propane over the course of their calendar year (July 1st to July 31st the following year) This company has been our supplier for twenty-one years. They have seen our usage go from 1200 gallons per year to 1000 gallons per year to 750 gallons per year and now that we put in the wood-pellet burning stove this last winter, according to our supplier, we only burned 350 gallons this last calendar year. Their minimum amount of gallons that MUST be burned per year is 500. So, we’re 150 gallons short!

Lord help us if we think the government is going to help any of us!

Apparently, what’s good for the environment and supported by the new green machine isn’t sitting well with our fossil fuel supplier. I understand their frustration but why should we be penalized for just doing what we’re supposed to be doing: cutting our carbon emissions into the environment?

Before I called our propane supplier, I did some research and apparently this is a common practice to bill a customer for non-usage. You could work out a deal with them and ask them to do an immediate delivery and have that amount calculated towards the yearly quota but when we checked our propane levels we couldn’t even muster up 100 gallons, so we wouldn’t meet the minimum. I did call the company and tried to work out a plan but they wouldn’t budge. They wanted the $130 fee and if you have any experience with energy suppliers, you know NOT to argue with them! If you do, you might not get your next delivery on time. Our home still needs propane in case of an emergency, power outage or to heat our hot water (switching to all electric is not cost effective at this time) I just shrugged and mumbled to myself that the fee was just ‘the cost of doing business’ and settled upon that.

Not so my husband. He immediately picked up the phone, dialed into the propane supplier customer service, smooth talked one of the (female) reps he knew quite well (reminding her we’ve been with them for twenty-one years and oftentimes winter in Florida, thus the non-usage……which was a teeny-tiny little exaggeration) and viola’ the fee was reduced to $64, which was more reasonable. It really shouldn’t have been anything BUT as my husband often says ‘that’s the cost of doing business‘. So, he paid it.

End of story.

You’re damned if you do. And you’re damed if you don’t. Either way, the powers that be are going to get inside your wallet. Only thing you can do, if ever, is make it as painless as possible. In the interim, hubby and I saved thousands of dollars since we installed that ever-loving wood pellet stove over a year ago and $64 dollars was a drop in the bucket.

In these unsettling time, my husband and I have to only concern ourselves with whatever directly affects us. This is the only way, I am finding out, that we can preserve what ever mental health we have left. As fixed-income retirees we have to narrow down to what we can control and what we can not. To be more specific, we’re only concerned with anything that has to do with Social Security and Medicare. Come January 1st, we’re supposed to be getting a $159 additional inflation fighting amount in each of our Social Security benefits (click here for that info). The additional $318 monthly will come in handy. Also, according to the new Inflation Reduction Act (which doesn’t reduce inflation whatsoever) we are only concerned with the $2,000 cap on Medicare drugs (click here for that info). All of this will benefit us come the next year and that is all we are concentrating on. Also, New York State just passed a law that will further reduce property taxes for anyone over the age of 60 (which we both are) and again, this will benefit our bottom line and we are only interested in what affects us directly. Click here for more information.

In the interim, food inflation, energy/fuel costs and higher prices on just about everything is still our Number One concern. We continue to cut costs, reduce our output, eliminate non-essentials and just plain simply go without, all to make our monthly bottom line balance. Gas prices have come down in NY to $3.99 a gallon but that is only because globally EVERYONE has cut back on their driving which in turn has cut back on demand. Less demand mean less in pricing. Inflation is still a BIG problem for all of us.

Here’s the current administration, as it continues to lie to the American people and tell us that inflation is only at ZERO percent. Really? Just more mis and dis-information, which is why we don’t pay attention to any of this crap. Pardon my language (but there is no other way to describe it). We just concentrate on ourselves and what directly affects our day to day living.

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