I found a dollar bill on the floor yesterday. It was there, fair and square, sitting on the ground in-between two parked cars: theirs and mine. No body was around. I looked. So, I picked up the dollar bill and thanked the spirits and put it in my almost empty wallet. I only had a few coins in my wallet this week. When hubby was getting ready to leave for work this morning, knowing that he only had a few coins in his wallet also, I placed my new-found buck in his bill-fold.
The property taxes are due on my house by the 28th of this month. I mailed out the $1600 check this morning leaving me only $4 left in my checking account. In two weeks my school taxes on my home are due. That’s another $2375 due in just sixteen more days. I only have $1800 saved for that so far. Meaning, I need to hustle up $575 quickly (in addition to my regular monthly bills). I’m not berating myself for not accomplishing my savings goals anymore. I have found it near impossible to save money lately. How can you? When all the bills keep rising and rising. Income isn’t. You try to balance and cajole and re-budget, but eventually, it all catches up to you. Enter the financial squeeze.
Hubby woke up this morning with the usual complaint: nothing to eat in the house. Of course there is plenty to eat BUT it’s just not what you want. Rather than pack a lunch, he’s been itching to eat at the new recently re-vamped company cafeteria. He snubbed his nose to his usuals: peanut butter & jelly, tuna fish, grilled cheese, leftovers. He had an excuse for every single food item as to why he couldn’t eat them: can’t eat eggs more than twice a week, can’t eat tuna fish more than twice a week, can’t eat peanut butter and jelly more than twice a week, can’t warm up leftovers at work because there is no microwave, can’t eat cold cuts more than once per week, won’t pack an orange because he hates oranges, can’t take the fresh biscotti I baked because the almonds I put in them makes him ill……….the list goes on and on. He just wanted to eat out in that company cafeteria and spend money that we just didn’t have.
Hubby’s been spending $25 a day just on gas. Our budget for the month used to be $100. Now, we’re looking at upwards of $400 a month! Where’s that extra money to pay those gas bills supposed to come from, I asked? Of course our food budget is taking a hit because in addition to the shortage of money we have to spend on food, we don’t have the money to buy a wider selection of food choices. Eating out in the company cafeteria, while nice, isn’t going to help our bottom line. It’s just going to make our tight budget even tighter.
Throw in the fact that our property taxes have risen. Insurance for our home has also risen. The other day when I received our insurance policy renewal, it now had a hurricane deductible clause. If our home is hit by a hurricane, and not even living in the mountains makes us immune anymore, we have to pay a 1% of home value deductible before the insurance company will pay. There also was a rider setting a limit on mold and bacteria claims. And what was our advantage point for getting less insurance with higher deductibles? The company rewarded us with higher premiums. PLUS, now the payments are due on a certain date. Failure to pay on the certain date guarantees cancellation of your policy retroactively. Yup, that’s right! Cancellation will go back 30 days and any claims paid in that time period will be considered now null and void.
This morning, as hubby and I were discussing (rather loudly) his lunch choices, or according to him, his non-lunch choices, I opened up my Excel sheet where I record our monthly/daily expenditures. Right now, we have spent $398 on gas and only $355 on food. For the first time ever in my 60+ years of life, we were spending more on gas than food! This did not take into account that I have 1.5 days of dog food and snack bones for my pet. She’s going to need food soon also! With only $4 left in checking, clients who are delinquent in paying, a husband complaining there’s nothing to eat……..and the financial squeeze looming on paying our home taxes (plus personal taxes will be due on April 15th), I had no choice but to transfer $100 out of our precious saving account (that is earmarked to pay the property taxes) and threw hubby out of the house.
I had enough! I can’t do this anymore! I can’t balance anything anymore! I don’t think I can make it work anymore. I can’t take it! You want to continue to eat fois gras and pretend our lives haven’t changed, then by all means, here’s the money! Go f**ck yourself! Go to the company cafeteria. Eat yourself into oblivion. I don’t care anymore!
Hubby left and again, he had to stop off at the gas station to fill up his car. He drives around 150 miles per day for his job. And yes! he drives a fuel efficient car that gets between 35 and 40mpg. But it’s not working out like we planned. With the cost of gas at over $4.15 a gallon (and still rising) and the tightness of available money, it’s becoming a nightmare, with no end in sight.
While at the gas pump, the woman in the next booth came over to my husband and asked him if he had any money to give her. “I need money to buy gas” she said “to get to work. I don’t have any money to buy gas to get to work nor even come back from work and get home. Do you have any money to give me, man?” DH then realized the reality of our own financial predicament. He told the woman that he had just been fighting with his own wife over the tightness of money and our own inability to buy food and gas and pay looming tax bills.
“The only money I have that I can give you is this dollar bill,” he said and handed the woman the paper dollar bill I found in the parking lot yesterday. “Don’t worry about it, man” she replied and went back to her own car. DH finished putting $25 of gas in his car and then instead of driving to work, he turned around and drove back home. He told me of his conversation with the woman. I told DH “You don’t believe me. I’m telling you that PB&J and grilled cheese sandwiches are the best we can do right now. You can’t be picky about food choices anymore. This isn’t a game. It’s reality. Things are bad and they’re getting worse. Everyone is feeling it now. I’m doing my best to make all of this work and keep everything together. We have plenty of food. Just not the choices you would prefer.”
And with that, DH pulled a frozen Trader Joe’s turkey burger out of the freezer and made himself a sandwich to take with him to work. He also took an orange and a PB&J sandwich for a late night snack. Within 20 minutes, he was back in his car and on his way to work. He won’t be home again till after midnight.
And so the beat goes on.