CRESTVIEW — Deborah Reynolds-Nash has seen the cost of living rise in her 57 years.

CRESTVIEW — Deborah Reynolds-Nash has seen the cost of living rise in her 57 years.

The Crestview woman has noticed the increasing costs of household products.

"Ever since they've (the children) been little, I've used Scott tissue," she said. "The tissue rolls are not as big as they used to be, and they're shorter than what they used to be. Everything's been cut down but the price."

Then there's dishwashing detergent.

"They cut the ounces down and the bottle looks real cute but it's smaller — and you're paying more," she said.

Small grocery bill spikes paled in comparison to the house insurance, which increased $200 per month this year, taking half her income, she said.

And last week, she noticed the rising cost in her electricity bill — almost twice as much to power her three-bedroom, two-bath home. That was a shock, she said, because she frequently used her fireplace throughout the cold weather.

Payment in pennies

"I normally pay my bills ... I have a list of everything I have to pay. I calculate the light bill to be about $140 (on average). That's what I had a credit union check for. But when I got the light bill, it was $225."

So she took matters into her own hands.

That meant getting $173 in pennies from Eglin Federal Credit Union and $50 in pennies from the local teachers credit union, and footing the rest of the bill with cash on hand.

"I took it (the package of pennies) home, unwrapped it and took it back to pay my light bill, and they refused to pay it," she said.

That surprised Reynolds, who noted that Crestview's Gulf Power Company office has a sign that says cash, money order and checks are acceptable payment methods.

"I had no idea, no earthly idea that they would not take my money," she said, adding she brought reading material to pass the time while a clerk counted the change.

Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power's corporate communications manager, said that wasn't an option due to the amount. 

“As a courtesy to the other customers, we ask that customers have large amounts of change rolled up," he said.

Life changes — new challenges

Reynolds said much has changed since 2007, when her husband, Charles, died.

"Life was good before he died ... I didn't have things to worry about. But now that it's me, I have to watch every cent. "

Reynolds worked in sewing factories and cosmetology prior to experiencing sickness that required her to have a bone marrow transplant. Most recently, she worked in laundry services on Eglin Air Force Base, she said.

Now, her working days are over, and that makes paying bills a problem. She draws Social Security disability benefits and smaller VA benefits because she and her husband divorced each other before remarrying  for just a few more years before he died.

Tricare helps, but with doctors as close as Crestview and as far away as Pensacola, Birmingham, Ala., and North Carolina, travel expenses, on top of everything else, are concerns.

Today's her deadline to pay the power bill in an acceptable payment method, and she'll do that, she said. But if it's not one thing, it's another.

"Soon as I think I'm getting over something, something else comes up" with her health, she said.

"Bills — that's where my money goes."

Staff Writer Matthew Brown contributed to this report.

RELATED: See commentary on this issue>>

Email News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.