By Gary Foreman
learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning."
Recently I saw this quote and thought how it applied to our
financial lives. It was attributed to Mark Batterson from his book "In a Pit
With a Lion on a Snowy Day". Although I doubt that Batterson meant to talk about
finances, the quote certainly does apply. Especially today.
Many people throughout the world are re-evaluating their finances. They
recognize that they might not want to keep doing the things they did last year.
That means that not only do we need to learn new skills and methods, but we also
need to unlearn habits and beliefs that are part of our lives today.
If you think about learning and unlearning, you'll recognize that sometimes we
need to do the unlearning first. The reason is simple. If your habit is to stop
for a fancy coffee on the way to work every day, you can't learn a new habit
until you unlearn the old. So let's start with some things that you might want
to consider unlearning.
We need to unlearn the "things that we can't live without". For many of us it's
hard to imagine living without a dishwasher or a car. But, if we try we might
find that we can live without these things. Especially if we get creative in
looking for alternatives (like asking kids to do the dishes or joining a
carpool). You might want to think about all the must have things in your life to
see whether they really are that necessary.
We need to unlearn some pride. The "I'd never be caught dead..." syndrome. Would
you be embarrassed if your friends knew that you bought second-hand clothes or a
used car? Maybe so. But, if you're going to survive tough times, you'll need to
get over that embarrassment. You can't feed your family or pay the mortgage with
We need to unlearn evaluating ourselves in terms of our possessions. You are not
worth less than your neighbor because they own a newer or more expensive
vehicle. For many of us this could be hard to unlearn. Since childhood we've
assumed that our worth is based on how much stuff we have. But, unlearn it we
You may think of other things that you need to unlearn. Each of us walks a
different path through life, so we'll each need to make our own adjustments.
Once you've begun to unlearn, you can begin to consider some new things that you
may want to learn.
We need to learn to "make do". The time has come to question every purchase. Is
there some way to avoid spending money? Is there something that you already have
or could borrow, that would be good enough? We all need to learn to make do with
the things that we already have. It's an acquired skill.
We need to learn skills that are new to us. You can learn to sew. You don't need
to be good enough to sew your whole wardrobe. Just good enough to repair clothes
that need mending. You can learn to cook. You can learn to garden. Learn to do
household repairs. There are all kinds of things that you can learn to do. It's
especially easy with available instruction on the net. You have the ability to
learn. And, you'll have the will to learn if it becomes important to you.
We need to learn to make our efforts count. There are some tasks that can save
us a lot of money. But, others don't have such a good payback. If you're going
to take on extra tasks around your home, do those that will save you the most
money. Mixing homemade cleansers can save a lot of money for the amount of time
spent doing it. Same thing with hanging clothes to dry. But, there are other
things that just won't save much money. You'll need to decide which things are a
profitable use of your time.
Again, you'll think of other things that you need to learn. Don't be afraid to
take this opportunity to grow. Many great advances have grown out of adversity.
And, you're only beaten when you give up trying.
Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar Stretcher.com <
www.stretcher.com/r/103.htm> and newsletters
http://www.stretcher.com/subscribe/subscribeDS.cfm>. Not only does the site
host thousands of articles on various ways to save money, but you'll also find a
vibrant forum where people share their dollar stretching ideas. You can comment
on this entry here