Blog: Strike up the band - I'm getting a $3 a month raise

Word on the street is that we will be getting a raise in our social security. Woo-hoo. I think it has been a few years, and Lord knows we can sure use the money.

Sister and I have been making a list of all the things we will use the money for. Did I mention it is just a little under $3 a month for us? Well, let's see now.

In the past three years, our cable and phone has gone up $21. Our food cost has gone up probably 30 percent. My medical co-payments have gone up 10 percent, as well as the cost of our medications.0

Heaven forbid one of our dogs gets sick. We are looking at a minimum of a $100 office visit at the vet. Our gas and electric has increased, even being on the budget plan. We are very thankful at this time that the building we live in is owned by a wonderful family who has kept our rent the same for the past two years.

So again, we are trying to figure out just how best to use the new found riches. Setting sarcasm aside for a moment, what powers at be decided that our cost of living had not increased? Is this based on fuel prices, cost of milk, or what? Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that my social security is still here! It may be gone for the next generation. But, I still wonder where this raise in the amount of .03 has come from.

I can't help but compare it to playing the penny machines at the casino. How do you feel when you bet 40 cents, and you get a 5-cent win? Be honest, now. Don't you sometimes say to yourself, "If you are only gonna give me back a nickel, and just keep the damn win."

Some people are good with money, and some are not. There are people who have a tough time making ends meet, no matter how much they get. To these people I say, "None of my business what you do with your money."

As long as it does not affect me. Some people do really well on a very small amount of money. When I say "do really well," I just mean they are able to pay their bills and are still able to eat when they’re done.

Whether you were raised in a home that had all the comforts, or you grew up without desserts is a good way to judge whether or not your household was struggling. If you got dessert at the end of supper, you might be rich.

Sister and I remember having dinner at friends’ homes when we were kids. Some of them had salad with their meal. We thought they must be rich! And if there was dessert as well, we hit the jackpot!

It was not until we grew up that we realized how rich we were in so many other ways. We laughed a lot more than most of the other families we knew, and washing our socks in the bathroom sink at night seemed perfectly normal. When you only had the one pair that is just what you did. Our Mom only had two dresses, so she must have been washing them by hand a lot, as well. When that becomes your normal, you never feel deprived.

I know there are many people around my age who tell stories about how tough things were in the old days. Just because we did not walk two miles in the snow to get to school, (we did live in San Diego, after all) doesn't mean we were spoiled. We totally appreciated all that we had, and never took it for granted. Much different from the current "give me" generation.

It wasn't until I started earning my own living that I understood the true value of living on a budget. I had what I called the envelope system. Putting money in a bank always included paying monthly fees for everything. Instead, I had several envelopes neatly lined up in a box. They had gas, electric, bus pass, food, etc. labeled on them. Since I often got paid bi-weekly, I would put money away in the envelopes until the bills came in. A big splurge was buying cookies and filling up the cookie jar. When my kids saw that the cookie jar was full, they knew that everything was OK.

Funny, the things they remember to this day. We still talk about the cookie jar thing.

So, as we look forward to this new year coming and making light of the social security raise, we are still very grateful that we have a decent place to live, food in the frig, many longtime friends and a wonderful family.

No matter what your status is in life, having a cheerful, positive and even humorous take on things can make all the difference in the world.

Hope everyone had a most enjoyable Thanksgiving, and that you hang on to that festive feeling for as long as possible.

By the way, if you see me on the streets of Kingman, I will be the one smiling while I may be thinking of the many things I might do with my raise...