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Making Do and Making Things Last

The last several months have seemed like a return to yesteryear. I'm referring to the time several decades ago when we suffered through double-digit inflation, stagflation, the misery index, "Whip-Inflation-Now" buttons and. . . .

You get the picture. But it's not "back then." It's NOW! Back to rampant inflation. Back to high (and increasingly higher) gas prices. Increases in the price of one item leads to a ripple effect of price increases across the board. Gas price increases affect everything and everyone. Now we're experiencing egg-flation. We're having to pay over $4/dozen for eggs that just a few weeks ago were 98 cents. It's really squeezing our wallets!

And it had to happen (again) just when I'm going into semi-retirement! How will we get through it this time? Well, we've cut back on the number of trips we make away from home, doubling up, making every trip count for not one or two but several errands. We've begun buying more of our food items from among store brands rather than name brand products. But we're finding ways to deal with inflation by "making do," as they say. We have to!

As a writer who does a lot of research, I take a lot of notes. I was spending a lot of money on legal pads. A few years ago, however, I discovered a way to save money by not having to buy so many legal pads. At the same time, I could make a lot of junk mail work for me rather than merely filling up my trash can.

Any 8 1/2- by 11-inch junk mail that is printed on only one side, I set aside. If half or less of a page that is printed on the back is blank, I tear off the half that is blank and save that, too. When I've accumulated enough to make a pad, I glue together the top edges of all the sheets using Tacky Glue, holding the sheets in place with several binder clips. Then, when the glue has dried, I put duct tape across the end and connect it to the thick cardboard from old, used-up legal pads. Viola! A generic legal pad courtesy of the mass marketers! I do the same with the half sheets, making a smaller pad. Now when I'm taking notes, I don't feel so guilty using up paper unnecessarily.

Today, I also discovered how I had been making good use of my resources without even realizing it. It all started back in "the good old days" when we weren't worried about the effects of inflation on our budget. I was shopping for tires for our car, and when I was tempted to buy the cheapest set, I seemed to hear Daddy's words of wisdom: "Don't scrimp on your tires! Get good tires. You might have to pay a little more, but you'll come out better in the long run."

Well, I bought a full set of Michelin's Latitude all-season touring tires with a 60,000 mile warranty at $128 per tire. Not cheap in those days. They served us well. We kept them properly inflated. (Well, most of the time.) We had them rotated regularly. They took us on many long trips in all kinds of weather--snow, rain, heat, cold. They carried us on hundreds and hundreds of short trips to work every day, to church, to the store, and on day trips for sightseeing. Never had a flat. Never had a problem with uneven wear or anything else.

Today, however, I got the bad news. Those tires were on their last millimeters of tread wear. I had known that news was coming, and I dreaded it because I know how much more tires cost now than when I bought them before. After all, I just had to buy new tires for my pickup. But I pulled out the sales receipt for the tires to see how many miles were on the car when I bought them so I could determine how many miles I had put on them. I was in for a pleasant surprise!

Those 60,000 mile tires now have 78,847 miles on them, 15,570 more than the warranty was for! I'd say I got my money's worth from them, wouldn't you?

Researching available tires now, however, I was in for more surprises, some good, some not so good. The good news is that the warranty on the same type of tire has been increased from 60,000 miles to 65,000 miles. (Either a lot of other drivers have had the same over-warranty mileage that I did, or Michelin has improved that tire!) The bad news is the price. They are now running more than $75/tire more than they were when I bought them--in 2016!

So inflation might test our mettle and cause us to make some major adjustments in our living and buying habits, but as long as there's junk mail and Michelin, I'll do okay in those two categories!

Now if we could just convince the government to stop spending money they don't have and stop printing more paper, which causes each paper bill to be worth even less (now almost worthless!). Maybe the government people should try living the way we average Joes have to live, making do with less!

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