Writing this blog, I should be more aware than I am that my morale is to some extent dependent on having some discretionary income. This week sharpened that awareness a bit.
Dickens has one of his characters say, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”
That is, a dozen pennies are all that are between “happiness” and “misery.”
I was shocked to find this to be true — maybe not for happiness and misery in a deep sense, but at least for the distance between financial comfort and distress.
You know, if you have been reading this blog, that I have been unhappy at work, and that last month I went on a compensatory spree for things I enjoy, such as early-music concerts, Crane’s stationery (half off), and a trip to the nuns. I thought I could afford it all, and expected only some rueful feelings.
I just didn’t know how rueful until this week. Why, I wondered, was I having to debate whether to buy the $4 slice of Sicilian pizza or the $9 pasta dinner? (As you know, I live in an SRO without a kitchen, even a shared kitchen, so I tend to eat badly.)
In puzzlement at how my bank accounts had even less money than I expected, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t submitted last month’s prescriptions for flex spending reimbursement.
That’s too close a shave. Granted, the savings plan got fed as usual, as did the internet bill and the credit card and the loan, and the nuns received their donation for the visit. So compared to billions of people around the world, I am bellyaching. Still and all, to feel the lack of a mere four hours of gross income is way too close to hand to mouth living for me.