Falling Off My Very Own Personal Fiscal Cliff

31 Jan

by Roger White

 

Pardon me while I faint. KLOMP!

 

Whew. Okay, I’m back. You see, I just checked my bank balance after the deposit of my first paycheck of 2013. I was anxious—fretting is the better word—over what sorts of new and exotic deductions would further erode my take-home income this fine year. But I had no idea it would be this bad.

 

Well, my Social Security deductions went through the roof; health insurance coverage for my family soared like a Roman candle (ooh, ahh); and we just added our oldest daughter ouch ouch ouchto our automobile insurance coverage because she’s of that age so new and terrifying to all parents. Lindsey’s actually a good driver, but try telling that to a car insurance company. To car insurance companies, teenage drivers are like the proverbial golden geese, except with braces and acne and blue jeans full of holes.

 

Holy smokes. Counting federal income tax, Medicare tax, dental insurance, life insurance, anti-insurance insurance, death insurance, dismemberment insurance, dismemberment cleanup insurance, disability other than dismemberment insurance, retirement, retirement insurance, and, of course, insurance against not having enough insurance insurance, I’m practically taking home less actual money than if I wasn’t working. Counting cost of gas, car upkeep, work clothes, lunches, the imposition of regular hygiene, etcetera, I do believe I’m virtually paying for the privilege to go to work.

 

Wha? Wha happen? How did it get to be like this? I thought that after about 30 years of the daily grind, I was supposed to be doing at least okay, relatively speaking. And speaking of relatively speaking, I’m certainly glad my relatives are speaking to me, because I may very well have to hit them all up for some low-interest loans. These be hard times, people. And the weird part is, my family’s not extravagant. We really don’t have any corners to cut to re-mash our household budget because all of our cuttable cutting cornerscorners have already been trimmed long ago. We’ve cut so many corners that every piece of furniture in the house is circular. We’re so bent on cutting corners that we switched from Saltines to Ritz crackers. (Get it? No corners. Bah-doom boom.) We’re saving coupons, taking cold showers, eating at home, bundling services—you name it. We’ve bundled so many services that AT&T provides our cable, phone, internet, water, electricity, sewage, and even medical and pharmaceutical needs, I think. The last time I was on the phone to the AT&T technician in India about a cable outage, he reminded me that I needed my regular allergy shot. That’s how bundled we are. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch just about every day, and I’ve worn the same dress shoes since Bush was president—the first Bush, that is.

 

Yes, if this first measly paycheck of the new year is any indication, my little family has barreled over our own personal fiscal cliff. All we’re waiting for is the big thud. I’ve actually sought out assistance to soften the thud. I’ve been to many an online “cost savings” site. They all say about the same thing. Buy store brands. Duh. We’ve been doing that forever. And I must say, “Everything’s a Dollar” brand beer is quite the sacrifice. They say to use up your leftovers and freezer foods. We’ve done that. Just last week, we Our Gourmet Joeused up our last can of Manwich and our final jars of Tang powdered orange juice and Taster’s Choice instant coffee, all circa 1972, I believe. Another savings tip from these online cost-cutting gurus is to buy only what’s on sale. Well, we tried that one, but now we’re stuck with 30 jars of gefilte fish, 10 pounds of leeks, and two dozen turkey necks.

 

Who’s up for pot luck?

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

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