Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2009

Sherry Hopkins

Money-saving ideas lead to reaffirmation of what’s valuable

This is part three and the last in my series on living on a single income, cost saving ideas and trying to come out ahead at the end of the month.

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We are now three weeks into our first month and all is good. Barring anything-unexpected happening we have fared rather well. At this point we have managed to save money to add to our savings account.

Last week we received Don’s 4th quarter 401k report and it was not a pretty picture. Like many of you we have lost almost 1/3 of his total 401k. We were in a conservative package and had no control over this depressing situation. We have decided however to look forward in hopes that the future will eventually bring a turnaround in the economy and our retirement savings.

You responded to my last two stories by telling me your own cost saving tips and they were many and worthwhile.

But first I want to ponder on another matter that is important to each of us.

Who are we without our stuff, our income? What is important to us really? What makes us laugh or smile or gives us a deep sense of peace?

In an article I read recently a poll question was asked, “What brings joy in your life?”  The overwhelming response was family.

That would have been my response as well and I was not surprised. But the next paragraph gave me pause for reflection. ““We spend less time with our families than any other generation on record.” Why you ask? We are working to pay for all our stuff.

Our children will not likely remember the new sofa, car or television but they will certainly remember if you were at their bedside to say goodnight or at the dinner table in the evening. They will remember your loyal attendance at a sporting event or a musical or dance recital. They will remember laughing together and talking with you about subjects that are important to them.

Will this economic crisis perhaps have a silver lining? Will it force us to think differently, live differently? “The cream always rises to the top,” it is said. Our families are certainly the cream and just maybe cutting back on our spending habits will allow our families to become as important as we say they are.

Now back to saving money. One reader hasn’t used their clothes dryer in years or ordered tea or soft drinks in restaurants ever. This reader also takes lunch to work and car pools when available.

Another reader checks out yard sales and second hand consignment stores and buys book for her children at the annual library book sale.

Many of you said you had gardens and canned your produce for the winter. That is a wonderful idea and one I hope to incorporate into our own lives this spring. I would like to have a raised bed garden so any tips you might have for me would be appreciated.

A reader in Senatobia saves lots of money by buying meat in bulk and dividing it into meal size quantities at home. This smart lady also buys her chickens whole and cuts them up herself. When I checked the difference in price of meat in smaller quantities and whole chickens I have to say I was shocked at the difference.

Overall this is a pretty easy transition and most satisfying. But I have to say saving money is hard work, physically. But at the end of each day I am tired with that job accomplished feeling. When I lay my head on my fragrant windblown sheets at night, I sigh a deep sigh and drift off to sleep counting not sheep but the dollars I saved today.

You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at