In San Diego County, we’re not exactly in a remote Alaskan village where postal rate increases have sent the cost of a half-gallon of milk soaring past $5. But in the last little while, with gas and food prices rising, it’s getting trickier for folks — present company included — to balance the cost of living. I’ve been hearing a lot about various ways people are finding to make it work, but there are some tough stories along the way, too.

For some low-income San Diegans, there’s government help. But more than $100 million dollars of food stamp aid went unclaimed in 2004 and subsequent years: many people just didn’t know they were eligible. Advocates say the grocery and gas costs only underscore the need for the county to fill people in on the program. I wrote about the gap between the eligible people and the food assistance they could receive in my story today.

And I’ve heard about others, who don’t necessarily fit the food-stamp recipient criteria, but they’ve banded together as “spies” for the cheapest groceries and gas in the county, trying to save a few dollars here and there to survive in San Diego.

How about you? How have you had to change your driving habits or rent or mortgage costs or grocery-brand preferences in order to make it work here? Click my name below to send me your hand-to-mouth solution.

KELLY BENNETT

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