How will I survive?
By Ginger Isham
August 7, 2008
With the price of gas, and predictions for high costs of fuel for keeping warm this winter, how am I going to survive on a budget and fixed income? There is no way I can control what I have to pay for gas or fuel except to shop around.
I am retired, so my health insurance is somewhat stable. I have limited control over some of my health costs. I need to visit my dentist on a regular basis, have routine check-ups and tests to prevent more serious problems and higher medical expenses. Here, I have some control. Exercise is a key to keeping well and feeling good. It helps keep the blood pressure down, the blood sugar under control, the body moving and the blood flowing. My diet and what I eat is a factor also of which I have control.
Even though the cost of food has gone up, I have some control in this area. I can use coupons and have more than one supermarket to shop at in close range. I can stick to the basics of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and protein, whole-grain breads and cereals. I do not have to make recipes that call for unusual and expensive ingredients or a lot of seasonings and ingredients. I can choose what quick method of cooking I use and length of time food needs to be cooked.
I can choose what I buy or make for family gifts, making sure they are practical and useful. I can visit the local discount stores for greeting cards or make my own. The computer has many verses for all occasions. I can wrap gifts in leftover wallpaper, use wallpaper borders with tissue paper, brown bags with markers, new towels or even the Sunday funny papers. I can recycle gift-wrap, like we always did at Christmas as a child.
I can use old puzzles and games with missing parts for crafts, such as filling in the outline of a flower, car or house with matching puzzle pieces as a frame for a gift for a grandchild, or I can help the grandchild make his or her own gift. I can buy inexpensive material or gently used material and make pillowcases as gifts.
I can make my own centerpieces by placing candles, outdoor greens and flowers in containers I have on hand.
I can shop for clothes and shoes only when there is a sale or I can visit the gently used shops. I remember the excitement of hand-me-downs as a child and in my own family today–the idea that something nice was free and did not cost anything!
I can watch movies at home rather than go out. I can make my own popcorn and snacks. I can invite friends in for movie night. I can bring out the old games of Scrabble, Checkers and Pictionary, and card games of hearts, rummy and flapjack. Today my granddaughter and I enjoy the card game Skip-Bo.
I can do all these things easily because I have had the luxury of learning how to do them in the past when I had the misfortune not to have so many stores available to tell me what I need to survive in this life.
Ginger Isham is a longtime Williston resident and former co-owner of Maple Grove Bed & Breakfast. She writes a biweekly “Recipe Corner” column in the Observer.