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One, two, three and stretch that budget

| Tuesday, May 22, 2007

With gasoline holding steady at north of $3.10 a gallon, it was time to take a hard look at the household finances. Either that or march into the managing editor's office and demand a raise.

Having never marched anywhere nor demanded anything, cutting spending seemed like a more realistic approach.

But one good thing about not making a lot of money is that your budget's not too complicated, so it wasn't like it was big hassle or anything:

Utilities?

If I used any less electricity I'd be Amish.

Food?

The last time I dined out was when I made a peanut butter sandwich and ate it on the back porch.

Entertainment?

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what the neighbor pays for our Wi-Fi.

Libations?

Sorry. That's a non-starter.

Get back to me when you've got something I can sign, Pelosi.

That left the mortgage and the transportation budget -- and refinancing the house seemed like it could involve, you know, signing a bunch of documents and stuff.

So the transportation budget it was. And since eliminating the daily commute to work by quitting my job is not one of the gasoline-conservation strategies AAA is recommending, I've pared back travel to the only other place I go with any regularity.

I've decided to switch gyms.

So take that Big Oil.

Until a few days ago, I belonged to your basic YMCA. The equipment's not real fancy, the locker room smells like a locker room, and most of the people seem to realize it's a long, long way from Venice Beach.

Yeah, it was just about perfect.

But the Y is 15 miles from home -- 30 miles round trip -- and with the cost of gas defying the conventional wisdom that what goes up must come down, the Y was a lack of luxury I could no longer afford.

Which has taken me, with no small degree of apprehension, to the fancy-schmancy gym barely a mile from home. The one with mini flatscreens affixed to the elliptical machines (wow, cable!) and a tanning salon on the premises (no thanks).

Yeah, the monthly fee is a bit higher, but when you crunch the numbers and account for the difference in mileage, not to mention travel time, it turns out I'll actually save a few dollars a month.

So take that Big Oil.

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