I was thinking about some things that I’m not going to be doing as much of for the foreseeable future, and how to wring the maximum amount of enjoyment out of them on those rare occasions that I opt to do them. These aren’t New Year’s resolutions; I gave up on those years ago. I’m talking about prudent financial decisions.

At the top of my list is eating out; it’s simply become too expensive to do regularly. Also, inconsistency was a key factor in my decision. I’m not alone; my friends admit they’re no longer comfortable with restaurant prices, and their level of interest in meeting for lunch or gathering for dinner has waned over time as well. Maybe it’s an age issue, but the older I get, the more comfortable I am eating at home.

However, when I choose to eat out, there are some things restaurateurs might keep in mind for luring diners into their establishments more often. Train the servers to listen, and the chef to read and comprehend the order instructions. For example, a note jotted on the order indicating “no onions” means leave them off, not a smaller handful.

With the high cost of meals today, I consider every morsel of food on my plate edible unless I’ve asked the server to return it to the kitchen for a do-over. That said, don’t stop by the table and ask, “Are you still working on that?” If the plate doesn’t give the appearance of being licked clean, then I’m not finished. When I’m done I’ll conscientiously put my silverware and various other items such as the silverware and unused butter dish on it and slide the whole thing a conspicuous distance away from me.

I’ve never been much of a drinker; I’m customarily the designated driver. Nonetheless, doctors tell me that a glass of red wine with dinner is a health-improving option, so I have one several times a week. However, grapes have become almost as valuable as chunks of solid gold; it’s no problem finding bottles of wine costing $20-$50 and higher if you’re into the elite ones.

From my perspective, this whole wine thing is another marketing sham. While some vintners may be better than others, I’ve simplified the issue. If I slightly enjoy the taste at the lowest price possible, then it’s good wine. That’s the gist of many things, personal enjoyment. It shouldn’t make a rip what a wine reviewer says; I’ve sampled some highly rated, expensive wines costing over $100 a bottle that taste like they’re moments away from being vinegar, and others that leave an unpleasant lingering aftertaste. My wine shopping ritual occurs infrequently and focuses on price and region. Anything under $10 a bottle and produced in Napa Valley California is in the running; ones below $5 are likely to go in the cart. I saw Chinese wine the other day and immediately had the taste of lead paint in my mouth — no thanks. Some, albeit few, things made in the USA are still the best.

A note to those serving wine in restaurants; when I order a glass of wine, please don’t pour me half a glass. I know, those stylish little measuring containers are trendy and savoring the aroma is voguish, but my doctor wouldn’t agree that smelling the stuff has an adequate health benefit. Fill my glass to within about an inch of the top and I’ll remember to leave a tip.

Like many retirees, I’ve reached a point where there isn’t much I need, but there are things that I sometimes want. That’s when shopping can be fun, because if it isn’t on sale and I mean darn near giving it away, I’m not buying it. I carry a little solar powered pocket calculator for figuring out those 66 percent off the lowest ticketed price marketing offers, but regardless of the deal my price ceiling on most items such as clothing and footwear is $10. Anything more than that and I can do without it.

Finally, I plan to do a lot more reading this year, and I’ve noticed that during hard times many people, especially older ones, read the Bible. For now, I’m going to re-read a couple of documents that Congress seems to disregard often, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Since I already know there’s no way of getting out of this adventure called life alive, I’m catching up on my actual personal rights, at least the ones we’re supposed to have as citizens. I need to refresh my memory about ways to defend myself against Congress.

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