Monday, May 19, 2008

Tight Wallets and Tight Fists

Okay, this post may seem directly opposed to my last one about trimming our budgets, especially where eating out is concerned. I've noticed that when times are tough, we want to clench our hands more tightly around whatever funds we do have. No one's going to control what we do with our money, and yet it seems when the gas prices rise, we must adjust our budgets. Even if it's painful. I read somewhere that our gasoline consumption has not decreased from a year ago. Ironic. We still complain, and still pay at the pump.

During times of these skyrocketing gas prices and the carryover to our grocery stores, do you know who I really have sympathy for? People on fixed incomes that don't spend money on extras to begin with. I admit it. Right now, our budget has some padding for those nice little perks we enjoy. Sodas on the weekend. A night at the movies in town ($3 admission per person, so even that's cheap fun). A nice cut of steak (on sale).

When prices climb, people on Social Security don't receive any extra compensation from the very government that pays their meager pension. And those numbers of people are increasing in the U.S. day after day. Or think about a single parent, working a full-time job and trying to pay day care for several kids. It's crazy. My husband runs a day care and we know it's not cheap. And we've only raised our rates twice in 11 years.

I'd like to put this out there for people to consider: Who do YOU know that's on a fixed income or struggling? And I mean, someone who's struggling more than you think you are? What can you do to help them or make their load a little easier?

Mother's Day is over, but Father's Day is coming. We bought my mom a gift card to her favorite deli, so she can buy some sandwiches when she goes to visit my stepdad in the nursing home. Really, my mom has so much stuff, she doesn't need another knick-nack or Greatest Grandma T-shirt. When she had surgery in February, we got her a 3-month Netflix gift certficate. One of my sisters got her an assortment of meats from their local butcher. For Father's day, I'm going to send the dads some Dunkin' Donuts cards.

Other ways you can help someone on a fixed/limited income would be gas cards or postage stamps. Listen when they talk to you about things they'd like to do but can't. Sometimes those little perks help us through tough times.

The more tightly we hold onto what we have, the more that fear can turn us into misers. Remember, give, and it shall be given unto you.

Reminds me of a story I read once.

A man was having a conversation with the Lord and said, “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”

The Lord led the man to two doors. He open one of the doors and the man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.” They went to the other room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was a large round table with a large pot of stew which made the man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The man said, “I don’t understand.”

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “They have learned to feed each other."

Who can you feed?

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