Sunday, May 3, 2009

A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE: No more, please!

A good guide in life is to never measure your treasure with money. That is a wise saying. None-the-less, money is important to our life styles. With a house that is constantly filled with any manner of food stuffs, last night Julie and I went out to dinner and paid $40 for the experience.

More often than dinner, which we normally do only after church on Sunday, we go out for breakfast. Usually at Sweet Henry's although we do Cracker Barrel and IHop's frequently. I try to have lunch with my children every now and then too.

Nearly all my grandchildren are grown but I have two little munchkins aged 7 and 11. Every month we try to take them to the Cracker Barrel for blue berry pancakes and shopping in the old fashioned store. And then there is our dinner group with whom we share a dining experience each month. This is a good life but it does take money.

Debt free, never using a credit card, my income from two pensions and social security provides me with sufficient funds for the necessary life plus surplus for fun and games. I am a fun and games guy if there ever was one. And I love the blessing of giving. Truly it is a blessing.

Again, this is the good life but it does take money. While the pension from my 10 years as a stock broker is about equal to my pension from 27 years as a senior industrial manager, still and yet, it is a fixed income.Now, of all people I understand fixed incomes. I've made a far better than average living explaining to investors that the dollar amount is irrelevant. The buying power is the only thing that counts. At age 78 my buying power is only a fraction of what it was at age 65.

Sadly, we have made adjustments. A good example is our Christmas giving. In previous Christmas we have given multiple gifts to each one of our large family. We have literally stacked presents all the way to the nine foot ceiling in our living room. What fun! Even more fun was to shop for those presents all year long, wrap and store them and anticipate the day we could present them to our loved ones.

Now, I only purchase gifts for my three children and the two little munchkins. Everyone else seems to be just as happy settling for home made jars of apple butter, jellies or jams.

Of course the social security checks adjust to the cost-of-living. Oh, well! That will take care of everything. RIGHT! Should it not be enough, why our benevolent leader will send me some spending money. Two hundred fity dollars this month. RIGHT! Who was the founding father that opined that the government could only give us what it first took away from us?

This reminds me of the big raise given to the miltary in 1950.

Although I do not remember the exact details, in 1950 there was a big noise made about a 3% raise given to the miltary. I do remember exactly how much I was paid a month when I was discharged. I was a petty officer 3rd class with 4 years, 9 months and 17 days of service. Including a $20 sea pay bonus, a $20 Battle Efficiency bonus and a $20 longevity bonus paid for having 4 years of service, I WAS PAID A TOTAL OF $134 A MONTH.

I didn't have to wait until I became an Associate Vice President of Finance with Prudential to understand the relativity of that 3% raise and buying power. Until we got that BIG raise the miltary did not have to pay taxes or social security and they did not have to buy their own clothing. The taxes and social security more than ate up the raise.

Although in the Navy, I ended up being injured overseas and in an Army hospital as my ship sailed off with all my gear. All I had was what I was wearing. In those cases what is left behind goes into the slop chest and gets doled out. My most prized lost possesson was my varsity football sweater.

When I was flown back to a hospital in the states it was the first time I had been north of Hawaii in almost three years. It was winter time and to me it was cold in San Francisco. I nearly froze! I did not own a pea coat. The new pea coat and minimum clothing, I never got a full sea bag again, kept me broke for months.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM EXPERIENCING WITH THE CURRENT "WIDELY ANTICIPATED" CHANGE.

Because of our total income my Social Security is, for the most part, fully taxed. My pensions are fully taxed. Although the upcoming increase in the tax rate schedules will be a direct tax, the indirect taxes are far worse. EVERYTHING IS GOING UP IN PRICES.

While food is the most obvious, Julie and I handle food well. We bulk buy and bargain buy. We raise our own food and can the planned excess. Gasoline seems obvious but we can control that to some extent. Along with the rest of the nation, we drive less.

The bill for natural gas for cooking and heating our home is more difficult to control. It has more than doubled in a very short period of time. While we used less this March than last March the bill more than doubled. It was $168 in March and $163 in April. I dread thinking what it will be come next winter.

A more easily seen comparison is the electric bill at the family retreat. In the winter when we only burn a few light bulbs the monthly bill is $8. It is now $12. That is a fifty percent jump.

Thankfully, I'm a country boy married to a country girl. A country boy can survive! With a country girl to keep him company, he will make survival a joy. BRING IT ON! Been there done that and I can do it again. You know what? I even enjoy the challenge.

Maybe I can take up SHINNY PLAYING again.
You ask what is "shinny". Why it is sort of like ice hockey but played using tomato stakes and a tin can. Been a while since I've played back in the 30's but I still remember how.

Uh, you ask why it's called "shinny"? We played it in the dirt road where we lived and any number could play, the more the merrier. The dust in the road needs to be at least a couple inches deep so you couldn't see exactly where you're swinging that tomato stick.

Not only was it played without shin guards, it was usually played in bare feet. If you couldn't hit the can you could usually get a well placed lick on your opponent's shin.

OOPS! Sorry! Yell, sure! Yep! Its called shinny!

You know what? Upon further thought, I think I'll skip taking up shinny again. UMMM

Pat Bracken:

"Why does a SLIGHT tax increase always cost you two hundred dollars and a SUBSTANTIAL tax cut only save you thirty cents"?

God Bless!

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