Learning 101 - The Dollar Stretcher
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Learning 101

"Half of 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 designer clothing.

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 must.

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!


Published Mar 03 2009, 01:19 PM by Gary
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About Gary

For more than 25 years, Gary Foreman has worked to manage money effectively. Prior to starting The Dollar Stretcher, he was a financial planner and purchasing manager. While helping clients manage their hard earned money as a financial planner, he applied commonsense, time-tested techniques during the turbulent 1980’s. The experience convinced him that you didn’t need to hit the lottery to accumulate significant wealth. Following that, Gary had an opportunity to learn more about how to get the best value for a dollar spent in the corporate world. As the Purchasing Manager for a computer manufacturer, he was responsible for supervising over $10 million in annual purchases. Gary began The Dollar Stretcher website <www.TheDollarStretcher.com> and newsletters in April 1996. Over 300,000 readers benefit from the time and money saving ideas presented in The Dollar Stretcher newsletters each week. His mission is to help people "Live Better for Less". He also provides private label newsletters for companies wishing to provide money saving information for their clients and/or prospects. Gary lives in Florida along with his wife of thirty years and their two children. Much of his time is spent working with the men's ministry of his church. One of their ongoing projects is the "Holy Smoke BBQ" which sells bbq on Friday nights with the profits going to support local foster kids and orphans. When he has a free moment you’ll find him restoring a Checker station wagon nicknamed “Two Ton” or cruising in a '65 Impala SS Convertible with doo-wops playing in the background.

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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